In 1886, seven years before the Wilson River Toll Road was opened, Walter Smith and his brother Isaac made a 13-mile rugged hike into the Wilson River wilderness to settle the wild land on which they had made a claim. During the years that followed the Smith Family created a robust homestead where they tended a garden, planted an orchard, developed other timber claims, and even managed a post office for the Upper Wilson River Valley. Eventually the homestead evolved into a road house outfitted with 11 additional rooms to board travelers headed between the Oregon coast and Forest Grove/Portland.
Today, with modern transportation, the site is an unlikely stop for most folks who are heading out to the coast. The Smith Homestead Day Use Area is a surprisingly quaint and relaxing stop that is located in the heart of the Wilson River Recreation Area just up river from the Tillamook Forestry Center. Whether you are passing by en route to the Pacific or camping at nearby Elk Creek, Jones Creek, or Keenig Creek Campgrounds, you'll find the old homestead site a perfect location for jumping into the deep pools of the Wilson River for a refreshing swim, posting up for a day-long picnic, or perhaps even hosting an event in the well-crafted learning and picnic shelter.
Note: Whether you are interested in hosting a birthday party, wedding, workshop or family gathering, to make reservation for the Smith Homestead Learning/Picnic Shelter contact the Tillamook Foresty Center, 45500 Wilson River Hwy, 503.815.6800. The shelter can accommodate roughly 75 people.
The Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests are 45 minutes outside of Portland’s backdoor and one of the state’s best keep secrets. But these forests also have a fraught history with logging, fires and more logging. They are now 50 to 70 years into the recovery process and offer prime habitat for vibrant communities of fish and wildlife, as well as an immense array of recreational opportunities. The Wilson and Kilchis rivers host globally important runs of Chinook, chum, coho and steelhead. Both forests provide camping, biking, fishing, hunting and hiking grounds for thousands of Oregonians, and they also provide over 400,000 people with clean drinking water.
Wild Salmon Center is a founding member of the North Coast State Forest Coalition, a diverse group of over 100 businesses, governing bodies and nonprofits working to leverage public support to increase forest and streamside protection along the North Coast. These popular and biologically important areas deserve real protection. That’s why we’re asking state and federal leaders to protect 33,000 acres of land around the Wilson and Kilchis Rivers and another 8,000 acres around Kings Mountain. It’s no easy task ensuring a future for these forests but this is where you can help.
Learn more about the North Coast State Forest Coalition, on their website. Join in the coalition by signing up for their newsletter and signing on to the latest action alerts to protect the Wilson/Kilchis and Kings Mountain.