In the fall of 2016, Tillamook State Forest staff and equestrian volunteers completed the Step Creek Loop, which has been under construction for several years. For a while now, riders could travel the first half of the loop, but then you had to detour to a gravel road to complete your ride. After letting the trail settle all winter, in May of 2017, State Forest officials unveiled the entire completed loop. And horseback riders are loving it!
The new Step Creek Loop is just one of three fun trails you can ride out of Reehers Camp. Located in Oregon’s Coast Range near the town of Timber, Reehers Camp was once the site of a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp. Hundreds of young men called its barracks home from 1934 to 1941, while they worked on firebreaks for the Tillamook Burn, replanted trees, and built roads, trails, and telephone lines. Today, Reehers Camp is a well-appointed equestrian and family campground that offers access to miles of scenic trails.
The Gales Creek Trail is the primary trail out of Reehers Camp. This 12-mile (one way) route runs over Round Top Mountain to the Step Creek Trailhead, off Hwy. 6. The most popular destination along the trail is the summit of Round Top Mountain, which offers good views out over the Coast Range. The 7-mile round trip from Reehers Camp gains about 1,500 feet of elevation.
The 3C Trail (named in honor of the camp’s ties to the Civilian Conservation Corp, or CCC), connects with the Gales Creek Trail to create a scenic 2.5-mile loop with no elevation change. It showcases a variety of stages in a working forest’s lifecycle. Along the way you’ll see old-growth forest, recently-cleared forest, and tree plantations of various ages. For part of its distance, the trail follows the bank of the beautiful Nehalem River.
The Step Creek Loop connects with the Gales Creek Trail to create a 7-mile loop with about 400 feet of elevation change. It’s a fun and relaxing ride through pretty forest along the banks of Step Creek and Big Plenty Creek. As you ride, notice the four bridges that span the creeks. Imagine the challenges of getting the materials for these bridges to the worksites and then building them on-site without big power equipment. You’ll want to shout out “Thank you, trail builders!” as you cross each bridge.
Shaded by huge Douglas-fir trees, Reehers Camp has 10 sites with 4-horse corrals, plus 6 non-equestrian sites. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings. The camp is equipped with a vault toilet, potable water from a hand pump, a group shelter, manure bin, and garbage/recycling bins. The water pump is a long way from some of the equestrian sites, so you may want to bring a wagon or cart and some lidded containers to carry your water. The camp is open from May to October and charges a fee for overnight camping. Day-use parking is free.
From the junction of Hwy. 26 and Hwy. 217 west of Portland, drive west on Hwy. 26 for 32 miles. Turn left on Timber Road and continue 3 miles to the town of Timber. Turn right on Cochran Road and drive 2.5 miles to Reehers Camp.
The riding at Reehers Camp is covered in more detail in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel. (Ponderosa Press, 2017). Available at your local tack and feed store or at www.NWhorsetrails.com.
Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, June 2017 edition.