For our first contribution to The Collection, we will stay close to home. You’ve just gotten off the river and want to squeeze another fun activity into your day. Look no further than Buck Creek Trail System.
Flowing into the White Salmon River just south of Husum, Washington is Buck Creek. While the small tributary does not support whitewater recreation, the surrounding land attracts recreation enthusiasts of nearly every other genre.
The Buck Creek Trail System, located on Department of Natural Resource Trust Land and Natural Area Preserve, covers the small, but steep, Nestor Peak.
Mountain bikers often push through the grueling 6-mile climb along the gravel road to the top of Nestor just for the legendary descent. Some organize shuttle rides with friends, to optimize the downhill rush and minimize the uphill struggle. The reward: a long, not-incredibly-steep, single-track all the way back to your behicle.
Hikers enjoy the feeling of seclusion and solitude on lower elevation trails that follow along Buck Creek.
While these trails do not offer sweeping vistas of surrounding mountains, they do provide an intimate setting for an afternoon in the outdoors. Buck Creek Falls is a small waterfall within the first 1/2 mile from a parking area. The pool below offers a refreshing retreat from the dry, hot summer air.
Both of these options, the mountain bike ride down from Nestor Peak and the Buck Creek hiking trail, are easily accessible for folks with less time. Visitors often add on a hike or ride through the Buck Creek Trail System to another activity, such as whitewater rafting or wine tasting.
A detailed trail map can be found on the Department of Natural Resource’s website.
For one hiking option (with access to Buck Creek Falls), follow the Northwestern Lake Rd off of Hwy 141 for several miles. A parking area with restroom facilities will be on the left. The trail crosses the creek immediatly and heads south.
For biking, park at Buck Creek Trailhead #1 and begin your climb. This parking area can be found by turning left onto Nestor Peak Rd soon after passing Northwestern Lake.
If you have more time, there is a longer loop option. The loop climbs up Nestor peak and continues on to Buck Creek Trailhead #2. This trailhead can also be accessed via the Monte Carlo parking area, just off of Oklahoma Rd to the west. To make it back to your car, turn right onto Buck Creek Trail at the intersection. A jeep trail will also enter here, so be sure to stick to the bike path.
This portion of your ride, or hike, will follow Penny Ridge and cross over a dirt road numbered B1300. Eventually the trail parallels the creek again and meanders you back to your vehicle at Buck Creek Trailhead #1.
Nestor peak offers a closer, and easier, option for folks wanting to take in the spectacular views and incredible environment of the Columbia River Gorge. Trails are well maintained and fairly well marked.
Just be sure to watch out for mountain bikers during the dry summer months. They reach pretty high speeds descending the peak.