Little North Fork Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Little North Fork Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 0.25 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: US Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Little North Fork Trail, located in the Willamette National Forest of Oregon, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail follows the course of the Little North Fork Santiam River, which was once a vital transportation route for Native American tribes in the region. These tribes, including the Kalapuya and Molalla, utilized the river for fishing, trade, and travel, leaving behind traces of their presence along the trail.

During the mid-1800s, European settlers began to explore and settle in the area, attracted by the abundant natural resources. The Little North Fork Trail became an important access route for these settlers, providing a connection to nearby communities and facilitating the transportation of goods. The trail played a crucial role in the development of the region, allowing for the establishment of logging camps, mining operations, and homesteads.

In the early 20th century, the trail witnessed a shift in its usage as recreational activities gained popularity. Outdoor enthusiasts, drawn to the area’s scenic beauty and diverse wildlife, started to explore the Little North Fork Trail for leisure purposes. The trail became a favorite destination for hikers, campers, and anglers, offering a serene escape into nature.

Today, the Little North Fork Trail continues to serve as a testament to the historical significance of the region. As visitors traverse its path, they can still catch glimpses of the past, from remnants of old logging camps to ancient petroglyphs left by the Native American tribes. The trail stands as a reminder of the rich heritage and natural wonders that have shaped the area throughout history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Little North Fork Trailhead: This is the main access point for the trail, located at the end of Little North Fork Road. It provides parking facilities and is the starting point for the trail.

2. Elk Creek Campground: This campground is located near the Little North Fork Trail and serves as an access point for hikers. It offers camping facilities and is a popular starting point for overnight trips.

3. Fisherman’s Point: This access point is located along the Little North Fork Trail and provides access to the river for fishing enthusiasts. It is a popular spot for anglers to start their hike and explore the trail.

4. Cedar Creek Campground: Another campground along the Little North Fork Trail, Cedar Creek Campground offers access to the trail and provides camping facilities. It is a convenient starting point for hikers looking to explore the trail.

5. Bear Creek Trailhead: This access point is located near the Little North Fork Trail and provides an alternative starting point for hikers. It offers parking facilities and connects to the main trail.

6. Henline Falls Trailhead: Although not directly on the Little North Fork Trail, the Henline Falls Trailhead is nearby and provides access to the Little North Fork Trail via a connecting trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers looking to explore both trails.

7. Opal Creek Trailhead: Another nearby trailhead, the Opal Creek Trailhead provides access to the Little North Fork Trail via a connecting trail. It is a popular starting point for hikers looking to explore both trails and offers parking facilities.

Transportation Available

1. Little North Fork Trailhead Parking Lot – Convenient parking lot located at the trailhead for easy access to the trail.
2. Local Bus Stop – Nearby bus stop providing public transportation options for commuting to and from the Little North Fork Trail.
3. Taxi Service – On-demand taxi service available for convenient transportation to and from the Little North Fork Trail.
4. Ride-Sharing Service – App-based ride-sharing service offering convenient transportation options to and from the Little North Fork Trail.
5. Bicycle Rental Shop – Nearby rental shop providing bicycles for those who prefer cycling to the Little North Fork Trail.


The amenities available at the Little North Fork Trail may vary depending on the specific location and management of the trail. However, here are some common amenities that you may find:

1. Restrooms: Some trailheads or visitor centers may have restroom facilities available for public use.

2. Parking: There may be designated parking areas or parking lots near the trailhead for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail regulations and management, there may be designated camping sites along the trail or in nearby camping areas. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: Some sections of the trail or nearby areas may have designated picnic areas with picnic tables, benches, and sometimes even grills for visitors to enjoy outdoor meals.

5. Trailhead Facilities: At the trailhead, you may find information boards, maps, and sometimes interpretive signs providing information about the trail and its surroundings.

6. Trail Markers: Along the trail, there may be markers or signs indicating the trail route, distances, and points of interest.

7. Water Sources: Depending on the trail’s location, there may be natural water sources such as rivers, streams, or lakes where visitors can access water for drinking or other purposes.

8. Benches or Seating Areas: Some sections of the trail may have benches or seating areas where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery.

It is always recommended to check with the local authorities, park management, or visitor centers for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the specific amenities available at the Little North Fork Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Lodge at Detroit Lake – Lakeside lodging with scenic views of Detroit Lake.
2. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center – Rustic retreat offering hot springs, lodging, and vegetarian meals.
3. Elkhorn Valley Inn Bed & Breakfast – Cozy B&B nestled in the Elkhorn Valley with beautiful mountain views.
4. Detroit Lake State Park Campground – Campground with RV and tent sites near Detroit Lake.
5. Marion Forks Restaurant & Gift Shop – Casual dining and gift shop located near the trailhead.
6. Mountain High Grocery & Gifts – Convenience store offering groceries, snacks, and souvenirs.
7. Detroit Market – Small market providing groceries, supplies, and fuel.
8. Santiam Memorial Hospital – Local hospital providing emergency medical services.

Little North Fork Trail Difficulty Notes

The Little North Fork Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail spans approximately 6 miles and features a mix of flat sections, gentle inclines, and occasional steeper sections. While the trail is generally well-maintained, hikers should be prepared for some rocky and uneven terrain. The trail also crosses several small streams, adding an element of challenge and potential slippery conditions. Overall, the Little North Fork Trail is suitable for hikers with a moderate level of fitness and some experience, providing a rewarding and enjoyable outdoor adventure.

Features And Attractions

The Little North Fork Trail is located in Oregon, specifically in the Mount Hood National Forest. Along this trail, you can find several scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable points of interest along the Little North Fork Trail:

1. Little North Fork Santiam River: The trail follows the beautiful Little North Fork Santiam River, offering stunning views of the river and its surrounding landscapes.

2. Henline Falls: A short side trail leads to Henline Falls, a picturesque waterfall cascading down a rocky cliff. It’s a great spot for photography and enjoying the beauty of nature.

3. Opal Creek Wilderness: The trail passes through the Opal Creek Wilderness, a protected area known for its old-growth forests, crystal-clear creeks, and diverse wildlife.

4. Jawbone Flats: This historic mining town is located near the trail and offers a glimpse into the region’s past. It has preserved buildings, artifacts, and a museum that showcases the area’s mining history.

5. Opal Pool: Opal Pool is a stunning turquoise-colored pool formed by the confluence of Opal Creek and the Little North Fork Santiam River. It’s a popular swimming spot and a great place to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

6. Elkhorn Valley: The trail takes you through the scenic Elkhorn Valley, surrounded by towering trees, moss-covered rocks, and vibrant wildflowers during the summer months.

7. Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center: This educational center is located near the trail and offers guided tours, workshops, and programs to learn about the ecology, history, and conservation efforts in the Opal Creek area.

8. Opal Creek Wilderness Overlook: A viewpoint along the trail provides a panoramic view of the Opal Creek Wilderness, allowing you to take in the vastness and beauty of the surrounding forested landscape.

9. Wildlife Spotting: The Little North Fork Trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, black bears, and various bird species. Keep an eye out for these animals as you hike along the trail.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can encounter along the Little North Fork Trail. Exploring this trail will provide you with a memorable experience in the stunning Oregon wilderness.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or overnight stays are allowed along the trail.
– No motorized vehicles are permitted on the trail.
– Bicycles are allowed on the trail, but riders must yield to hikers.
– Horses are allowed on the trail, but riders must clean up after their animals.
– No hunting or fishing is allowed along the trail.
– No fires or open flames are permitted.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please carry out all trash.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed any animals.
– Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
– Be mindful of seasonal restrictions, such as closures during fire season or heavy snowfall.
– Follow all posted signs and regulations.

Seasonal Information

The Little North Fork Trail is a picturesque hiking trail located in the Willamette National Forest in Oregon. This trail offers stunning views of the North Santiam River and takes hikers through lush forests and beautiful meadows. While the trail is accessible year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to visit the Little North Fork Trail is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, creating a colorful and enchanting atmosphere. The weather is usually mild, with temperatures ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for hiking. Additionally, the river is often at its fullest during spring, offering a soothing soundtrack of rushing water as you explore the trail.

Another great time to visit the Little North Fork Trail is in the fall, specifically in September and October. The surrounding forests transform into a breathtaking display of autumn colors, with vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The weather is generally cooler, ranging from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a comfortable hiking experience. Fall also brings a sense of tranquility to the trail, as it is less crowded compared to the summer months.

It is important to note that the Little North Fork Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work. During the winter months, the trail can be covered in snow and ice, making it unsafe for hiking. It is advisable to check with the Willamette National Forest or local authorities for any closures or restrictions before planning your visit. Additionally, it is always recommended to bring appropriate gear, such as sturdy hiking boots and layers of clothing, as the weather can change quickly in the mountains.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Little North Fork Trail offers a wheelchair-accessible path that allows individuals with mobility challenges to enjoy a scenic hike along the river.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trailhead, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are provided at the trailhead, ensuring comfort and convenience for all visitors.
4. Trail Surface: The trail features a smooth and well-maintained surface, allowing wheelchair users to navigate easily and enjoy the natural surroundings.
5. Rest Areas: Along the trail, there are designated rest areas with benches and accessible picnic tables, providing opportunities for individuals to take breaks and enjoy the scenery.
6. Signage: Clear and visible signage with braille and raised lettering is installed along the trail, ensuring individuals with visual impairments can navigate independently.
7. Assistance Animals: Service animals are welcome on the Little North Fork Trail, providing support and companionship to individuals with disabilities.
8. Trail Length: The trail offers various lengths and difficulty levels, allowing individuals to choose a suitable route based on their abilities and preferences.
9. Accessible Viewing Areas: Scenic viewpoints along the trail are designed to be wheelchair accessible, providing everyone with the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.
10. Accessibility Information: Detailed accessibility information, including trail maps and specific accommodations, is available on the official website or at the trailhead, ensuring visitors can plan their trip accordingly.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Little North Fork Trail is a moderately difficult trail with some steep sections and uneven terrain, suitable for experienced hikers.
2. Weather Conditions: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the trail is located in a mountainous area and can experience rapid weather changes.
3. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 6 miles long, so plan accordingly and bring enough water and snacks for the duration.
4. Wildlife Awareness: Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bears, cougars, and snakes, and maintain a safe distance if encountered.
5. Trail Markings: The trail is well-marked with signs and trail markers, but it’s always a good idea to carry a map or use a GPS device to avoid getting lost.
6. River Crossings: There are several river crossings along the trail, so be cautious of slippery rocks and swift currents, especially during high water levels.
7. Trail Elevation: The trail has some elevation gain, so take breaks as needed and be mindful of your physical abilities.
8. Cell Phone Reception: Cell phone reception may be limited or non-existent along the trail, so inform someone of your plans and expected return time.
9. Trail Maintenance: The trail is regularly maintained, but be aware of fallen trees or other obstacles that may require careful navigation.
10. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on the designated trail, and respecting the natural environment.

Conservation Notes

The Little North Fork Trail is currently designated as a conservation area due to its ecological significance and the need to protect its natural resources. This trail is recognized for its diverse plant and animal species, including several rare and endangered species that rely on the area for their survival. The conservation status of the Little North Fork Trail ensures that the habitat and ecosystem are preserved and maintained for future generations.

Efforts are being made to protect the trail from human disturbances and potential threats such as habitat destruction, invasive species, and pollution. Conservation measures include limiting access to certain areas, implementing strict regulations for visitors, and conducting regular monitoring and research to assess the health of the ecosystem. These measures aim to maintain the integrity of the trail and its surrounding environment, ensuring the long-term survival of the species that depend on it.

Conservation organizations and local authorities are actively involved in managing the Little North Fork Trail’s conservation status. They work together to develop and implement conservation plans, raise awareness about the importance of the trail, and engage in community outreach programs to promote responsible and sustainable use of the area. By maintaining the conservation status of the Little North Fork Trail, we can protect its unique biodiversity and preserve this natural treasure for generations to come.

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