Located in the heart of Oregon’s Coast Range, Camp Wilkerson is the jumping-off point for several fun rides on the nearby, lightly-traveled forest roads. These gravel roads offer excellent all-weather footing, and the horse camp itself is a delight.
While some folks don’t appreciate forest-road riding, it does have its advantages. First, of course, is that you can ride year-round, no matter how hard it has been raining. Second, you can ride next to your fellow riders and actually have a conversation as you travel. And third, after a rain you don’t have to worry about wet foliage slapping your legs and drenching you as you pass by.
Camp Wilkerson has only one trail within its boundaries. The Liahona Trail is 3.5-mile single-track loop that explores the hills of this Columbia County park. In summer it’s a very nice trail, but in winter it can be muddy and slick.
The rest of the trails out of Camp Wilkerson are road rides that explore the beautiful forest around the park. You won’t get lost, because the various routes are all marked with wooden signs emblazoned with horseshoes and arrows indicating the turns.
From Camp Wilkerson you can do fun 5-mile, 7-mile, and 10-mile loops. Or you can do an 18-mile out-and-back ride to Camp 8, a historic logging camp near Vernonia. The 20-mile CZ Trail runs past Camp 8 and nearby Scaponia Park, both of which have trailer parking, so can drop off a trailer at one of these locations and ride to it one-way from Camp Wilkerson, continuing along the CZ Trail if you like.
THE HORSE CAMP
Camp Wilkerson’s horse camp has more amenities than most. Its six campsites have 4-horse corrals, picnic tables, and fire rings, along with potable water spigots at each site. All but one of the sites have pull-through parking, and all sites have room for 2 trailers. The camp has toilets, a manure bin, garbage cans, a covered group shelter, and hot showers within easy walking distance. Camp Wilkerson also has a large day-use parking area.
Camping reservations are recommended (503-366-3984). Fees are assessed for camping or for day use, and the camp is open year-round. (The showers, flush toilets, and the lodge are closed in winter, but portable toilets are available.)
From Beaverton/Hillsboro: Take US-26 west, then turn right on Hwy. 47. About 9 miles beyond Vernonia, turn right on Apiary Rd. and continue 7 miles to the park entrance on your right. From Scappoose: Take the Scappoose-Vernonia Road, drive 20 miles and turn right on Hwy. 47. Continue 4 miles and turn right on Apiary Rd. The park is 7 miles ahead on the right. From Rainier or Longview: From the Lewis & Clark bridge, travel west on Hwy. 30. At the top of Rainier Hill, turn left on Larson Rd. and then right on Old Rainier Rd. In 0.9 mile, veer left on Apiary Rd. Follow it 13.5 miles and turn left into the park.
The trails out of Camp Wilkerson are covered in more detail in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2013). Follow “NW Horse Trails” on Facebook, or go to www.NWhorsetrails.com.