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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

Old Salmon River Trail #742A

Updated: Apr 21

A meandering hike along the Salmon River near Welches in Mount Hood National Forest.

Salmon River

Trail Name: Old Salmon River Trail #742A

Access: Trail

Distance: 5.79 miles round-trip

Point to Point Distance: 2.79 miles (one way)

Elevation Range: 1098' to 1637'

Ascent/Descent: +354 ft /-385 ft

Trail Type: Point-to-point (2.79 miles). I did this trail as an in and out.

Permits/Fees: Northwest Forest Pass (for parking)

Notes: The road isn't plowed during the winter so be aware of road and weather conditions before attempting to access this hike during the winter months. There are two sections of trail that are short road walks.

Location: Near Welches in Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon, U.S.A.

Administration: Mount Hood National Forest

Ranger District: Zigzag Ranger District

Date: 2-6-2024

A few summers ago my mom and I took a drive down FS 2618. So, I have been wanting to do this hike for a while.

We had a large snow storm hit the Willamette Valley in late January and I was waiting for snow levels near Welches to go down so I could access the trailhead. The weather and snow levels finally worked out so I could do this hike in February.

The Slab

The drive from my home was around 40 minutes. It was overcast and rainy. I was easily able to drive up to the Old Salmon River Trailhead and there were no traces of snow on the ground at that point. The rain still hadn't let up, so I bundled up in my layers and rain gear.

I brought my dog Jac along with me since he enjoys hiking too. The largest elevation, in terms of steepness or change in the trail, is the first section of trail near the trailhead. The trail descends down to the river and follows along the river through a beautiful old growth forest full of vibrant green moss, ferns, and large old growth trees.

The whole length of the trail was easy to follow. There were no blow downs across the trail. Many spur trails from the road come to the trail, but it's pretty easy to tell where the main trail continues. There are also many spur trails off the main trail down to the river's edge along the whole length. There were a few creek crossings. I was able to cross all without getting wet or having to walk directly through water.

Pretty Section along Salmon River

There was one creek crossing that was a bit more challenging than the others, but with a bit of route planning and slight gymnastics I was able to rock hop/jump my way across. None are technical — it's just avoiding getting wet. Waterproof shoes are probably a good idea this time of year. I wore my Keen Targhee III hiking boots.

There were a few muddy sections of trail, but nothing bad that was too deep or sticky. The trail is sandwiched between FS 2618 and the Salmon River. There weren't many cars driving down the road since it was a weekday, but there were some. The river was so loud it drowned out most of the road noise.

The forest was beautiful. Even without the river the forest itself would have been worth the hike. One of the info signs said some of the trees in this old growth forest are over 150 years old.

From the north end of the trail to the first road section, there were four small creek crossings. One of them was the more tricky one to navigate (45.30292, -121.94051). Around this point it stopped raining, for the most part. The first road section of the trail goes back Salmon River Slab (the Slab has 5 rock climbing routes ranging from 5.6-5.9). It's about 700 ft of road walking and is considered "part of the trail." At each trail entrance there is a sign making it easy to spot. The trail continues on from the Slab and goes behind the Green Canyon Campground.

According to the Forest Service website, it's around the campground where the two trails meet — Old Salmon River Trail#742A and Old Salmon River Trail #742. It's a little confusing map wise, but on trail it doesn't really matter. You just keep walking down the trail. Around the campground I came across some patches of snow on the trail, but it was easy to hike through.

The trail continues past the campground to another road section that's around 400 ft of road walking. Again, the entrances to the trail are marked with signs on both ends. The trail continues along the river to where it meets with FS 2618 by a bridge. This is the other trailhead end.

Longest snow section near campground

The Old Salmon River Trail #742 continues across the other side of the road and goes for many miles into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. I turned around at this end and hiked back the way I'd come. I saw more cars and people with their dogs along the trail on the way back. I didn't come across anyone else actually hiking the trail — all just took spur trails down to the river from the road or were along the road. During the Slab road walk section on the way back there were people parked and taking pictures. One person had a dog. It's more narrow in this section of road. Jac did so good — was pretty disinterested, no barking or pulling. He's gotten so much better in his older age as a hiking buddy.

I honestly probably wouldn't like this trail with all the people along it during the summer, but I really enjoyed it today when it was more deserted. Jac was pooped by the time we got back to the car. He got a treat for how good he was, and I got to eat a can of home canned peaches.

One of the easier creek crossings


How to get there (from Sandy, OR)



My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your safety, any possible injury, or anything that happens if you choose to follow anything on this website. Maps are not intended to be used for navigational purposes, but to give an overview of the route taken. By going outdoors you are solely responsible to know your strengths and limitations, be aware of current conditions and proceed with the appropriate caution. My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your choices and the outcome. Reference my disclaimer for more information on being responsible outdoors.

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