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Sword Fern Trail

Southwest Washington > Lewis River Region
45.8337, -122.3851 Map & Directions
Length
7.1 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
2209 feet
Highest Point
2187 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Moderate/Hard
The Sword Fern Trail is a nice loop option off the Bells Mountain Trail near Moulton Falls. Photo by Rod Hooker. Full-size image

This 2.5 mile long horseshoe trail is part of a nice 8 mile lollipop loop in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. Expect a shaded section of trail and to share the way with mountain bikers. Continue reading

  • Mountain views
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Good for kids

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
Rating
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Hiking Sword Fern Trail

The Sword Fern Trail is a 2.5-mile horseshoe-shaped loop trail accessed from Bells Mountain Trail. Four feet wide and moderate in intensity, it includes banked trail turns for bikes (thought no motorized use is allowed).

The path is through a third-growth Douglas and hemlock fir forest planted in the 1960s. There are no streams, (so bring all the water you need), a closed canopy (shade!), and the understory is sparse with namesake ferns and Oregon grape.

Despite the close canopy, there are occasional views east of the Dole valley and Silver Star Mountain beyond. 

Most people will access this trail from Moulton Falls County Park. Hike west for 0.7 miles and then turn onto the Bells Mountain Trail. From here, you'll head south for 1.4 miles until you arrive at the intersection of the Bells Mountain Trail and the Sword Fern Trail.

The Sword Fern Trail ascends towards Bells Mountain, levels near the top, then descends back to the Bells Mountain Trail 0.9 miles south from where it started. Logging roads lace the area and the trail crosses three of them. You can continue on the Bells Mountain Trail by turning right, or turn left, and hike back 3 miles toward the trailhead on the Bells Mountain Trail.

Washington Trails Association was the principal designer and developer of the trail and partnered with the Department of Natural Resources and Washington Conservation Corps. The trail is one of several new or planned trails in the Yacolt Burn State Forest by the Department of Natural Resources. 

WTA worked here in 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018!

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Sword Fern Trail

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 45.8337, -122.3851 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From I-205 or I-5, take the exit for State Route 500. Drive east on 500 until you reach NE Fourth Plain Road in Orchards. At the Fourth Plain Road intersection, continue north on NE 117th Avenue/State Route 503.

Follow State Route 503 north through Brush Prairie and Battle Ground. Turn right (east) onto Rock Creek Road. Rock Creek Road will turn into Lucia Falls Road. Access the trail from the west side of Bridge 120 or from Moulton Falls Park. Parking for 20 cars in a secondary lot above the falls is recommended. 

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Southwest Washington > Lewis River Region

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Guidebooks & Maps

Afoot & Afield Portland/Vancouver: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide (Douglas Lorain) - Wilderness Press

https://www.dnr.wa.gov/geo/yacolt.pdf

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Sword Fern Trail

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