If you are in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, you are surrounded by gorgeous hikes. Drive west, you’ll get views of the coast. Drive east you’ll get views of the beautiful Cascade mountain range. We have so many hikers here in Oregon that sometimes it can be hard to find a hike on the weekend (that isn’t raining!) that isn’t crowded but still has a beautiful view. One hike that I’ve found that meets all of the qualifications is Henline Mountain. Don’t get me wrong, PLEASE do all the popular hikes. They are popular for a reason! But once you’ve done them, Henline Mountain will be waiting for you!
To get there, drive east on highway 22 from Salem. About 22 miles down the highway you’ll pass the Gingerbread House on the right, shortly after you’ll come to a flashing yellow light, North Fork Road; you’ll want to turn left here. Drive approximately 20 miles down North Fork Road. Allow for a little extra time on this part of the drive, it can be slow as there are quite a few sharp turns. The road becomes less maintained the further you go. It will eventually become gravel, at this point you’ll want to watch out for some serious pot holes. Keep left for Road 2209 (passing the Three Pools turn off). There is a small parking area on the left for Henline FALLS trail head. This is not the right stop, keep going 0.8 miles further down the road. The Henline falls trail is a nice short walk to some small falls, which is worth the stop if you have some extra time. Watch carefully as the trail head sign can be easy to miss on the left. There is no parking, so you’ll want to park on the side of the gravel road. Register as a hiker at the trail sign; this is smart to do since its not a populated hike.
If you are hiking to the view point, which is beautiful and usually has the best view, it’s 2,200 feet elevation gain and 5.6 miles round trip. If headed to the summit, you’ll add an additional 2.2 miles to your hike, with a total of 4,650 feet elevation gain. This hike is open April- November and they do allow dogs on a leash.
The first portion of the trail is very defined and has a lot of switchbacks through a wooded area. The elevation gain of this hike is pretty serious, so if you have joint/knee problems this might be a doozie for you, especially on the hike down. There isn’t much of a view on the way to the viewpoint, BUT it makes it that much more amazing and special when you do get there. When hiking to the summit, this is a great place to stop and eat lunch or just lay in the sun for a little break. This viewpoint was actually the location of an old lookout tower, and usually has some red paintbrush, yellow stonecrop and purple penstemon if you go during the summer.
If you are feeling adventurous, head up the trail for the summit. The trail gets steeper and a little less defined in some areas, but still clear. You’ll have some outcroppings along the way up for some beautiful views of untouched foothills. If you have passed more that 2 or 3 hikers at this point, I’d be surprised! You may however hear some pikas when you get the rockslides. If you are like me, you’ll get excited thinking you’re almost at the summit about 4 or 5 times before you’re actually there, it’s quite deceiving! When you do finally make it to the summit, you may have a view, where you could see Mt.Jefferson, but you also may just be in the clouds! I have had both experiences and both are pretty cool in their own way. Make sure to look for the summit box and sign it!
Once you are back down the trail, be sure to stop at Three Pools to cool off in the summer, or the shorter 1.8 mile hike to Henline Falls if you still have daylight!