Running the Lewis River

A nice out and back trail. Usually run in the off season but it might make a neat weekend to run around St. Helens on Saturday and do the Lewis River trail on Sunday.

When To Do This Run

Guidebooks recommend the trail for Spring through Fall. I've know runners who have done this in winter. The high point is only 1800 feet but, the few times I've been here in winter, we've had to push through some snow at the upper end of the trail (up to a foot deep). If you run in winter expect to find some snow.

General Route Information

The route is pretty straightforward. You drive up to the Curly Creek Trailhead and get on the trail. I'd suggest heading 1/4 mile downriver to check out Curly and Miller falls. Once you do that you head up river. You can go 15.25 miles up river if you go all the way up to Quartz creek trail head.

The trail is generally in very good condition. There are a few climbs on it but nothing too strenous. I haven't explored this area extensively but there appear to be a number of other runs you can do. Quartz creek trail picks up at the end of this trail and ther are also numerous side trails. From there, if you want to add in more miles you can head up the Quartz creek trail.

Map pieced together from out of print guide book. Click for higher resolution map. After piecing this together, I discovered that the forest sevice has a pretty good map.

Maps and Reference Information

The appropriate USGS maps are Burnt Peak, Spencer Butte and Quartz Creek quadrangles. The appropriate Green Trails maps are 364 (Mt. St. Helens) 365 (Lone Butte) and 366 (Mt. Adams West) .

You probably want to check the weather before heading out. Cougar Washington seems to be the closest town with any weather information. This link may take you straight to weather info.

It's a good idea to check with the ranger before heading up to find out if there are any trail closures or other info. The Gifford Pinchot ranger station mantains a web site. The ranger station also has some good trail maps.

Mileage Splits and Time Estimate

The table below gives split distances.

Pt Split Mileage Overall
Curly Creek Trailhead
Bolt Camp Shelter
Forest Road 90
Lower Falls
Forest Road 90 (Quartz Crk Trailhead)

Driving Directions

It's about 81 miles from downtown Portland to June Lake Trailhead. It takes about 2 hours to drive to the start.

Take exit 21 from I-5 north, Turn onto SR 503
Follow 503 East for 21-23 miles
At Jack's Restuarant (climber registration) take 503 Spur to the town of Cougar
Drive through Cougar and the road becomes FR90. You are going to stay on FR90 for 20.5 miles (look for the mile markers on the side of the road).
Start looking for the signs for Upper Lewis River. While on FR90 you will drive around Swift reservior, pass Swift Campground and the Pine Creek Info Center.
Staying on FR90 take the right branch just past Pine Creek info center and driver through the Northwood area. \
After a couple of miles the road will split, take the left branch (still FR90) towards Upper Lewis River.
Take a left on the gravel road 9039.
Curly Creek Trail head is up the hill 1/4 mile past the river crossing.
To park at Curly Creek you must have a Northwest Forest Pass.

NOTE: This page contains running information for experienced ultra runners. Experience ultra runners are people who have already completed 50K, 50Mile or longer ultramarathons. The advice on this page is not directed towards hikers or typical 10k recreational runners. No guarantee is made about the accuracy of maps or information on this page. This page is only intended as a starting point for your own research on places to run. Always check route information yourself and be prepared.