Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,720.00 ft (524.26 m)
Trail type
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Old-growth forest. Fishing. Swimming holes. Solitude.


Steep trail. Limited campsites.

Trailhead Elevation

1,920.00 ft (585.22 m)


Backcountry camping
Bird watching
Big Game Watching
Old-growth forest
Big Game Watching



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