Horse Creek South Trail Hike

Central Oregon Coast, Oregon

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Horse Creek South Trail Hike


  • The Horse Creek South Trailhead sign.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Truck turnaround next to trailhead parking area.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • The Horse Creek South Trailhead.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana).- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Moss clings to anyting and everything.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Douglas fir pinecone.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Hanging wing-moss (Antitrichia curtipendula).- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Posting when entering the Drift Creek Wilderness.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Eyes on the forest, not on the trees. - Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • A drop of water clinging to a western hemlock. - Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is a common sight along the entire length of Horse Creek South Trail.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Abundant and lush vegetation in this rain forest. - Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • There are several nice features to pass through along the trail.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Exposure increases toward the end of the trail.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Drift Creek is your reward for the effort.- Horse Creek South Trail Hike
  • Drift Creek running high in January. - Horse Creek South Trail Hike
Overview + Weather
Old-growth forest. Fishing. Swimming holes. Solitude.
Steep trail. Limited campsites.
Logging operations in the area during weekdays. Keep an eye out for logging trucks on NFS Rd 3446.
Central Oregon Coast, OR
Pets allowed: 
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,720.00 ft (524.26 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,920.00 ft (585.22 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


Drift Creek Wilderness area is situated in the heart of the Siuslaw National Forest. The area features access for hiking, backpacking, fishing and camping.

Three trails provide access to Drift Creek, a tributary of the Alsea River, which carves through the remote coastal canyon. All three trails are challenging and difficult to connect with each other, and each offers a slightly different experience.

The Horse Creek South Trail offers access to the south side of Drift Creek and begins at a small parking area along Forest Service Road 3446. The trail can really be separated into two distinct sections.  The first section starts off as a gentle descent through a second-growth forest. The trail is fairly wide open and follows an old logging roadbed. 

The trail begins to change dramatically as it reaches the border of the Drift Creek Wilderness. Both the terrain and the foliage begin to radically change. Large Douglas fir, western redcedar and western hemlock fill the forest. In addition, the trail also narrows and starts to descend more rapidly.   

From the trailhead to the creek you will lose a total of 1,720 feet, and 1,200 feet of that is in the final 2 miles. Unlike the other trails in the area, you will not find many areas for camping upon reaching Drift Creek. Only a few campsites have been cleared, so plan to arrive early. The water level is typically fairly high from late fall through spring, and access to the creek can be very limited. The creek is also a spawning ground for Chinook and coho salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout.

For a longer trip, consider linking the Harris Ranch Trail or the Horse Creek North Trail. This will require multiple vehicles and route finding, but either route can make for a great addition to the adventure.

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(58 within a 30 mile radius)

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