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Sandy River Delta Hike

From Portland Hikers Field Guide

Mount Hood from the Sandy River Delta (Steve Hart)
Backwaters of the Columbia River are common in the area (Steve Hart)
Flowering trees near the old corral (Steve Hart)
A pathway hidden in the trees (Steve Hart)
  • Start point: Sandy River Delta TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Sandy River Delta
  • Trail Log : Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Distance: 4.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Year round
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Nettles

Contents

Hike Description

This hike explores a piece of 1400 acres that the state calls a "dispersed recreation site", north of Interstate 84 and east of the Sandy River. There aren't any official trails here, but the place abounds with old roads and footpaths. This hike is a perfect getaway for those without a lot of time. It's also a great place to exercise your canine buddies. On my last trip there were more dogs than people!

The road splits just past the gate and this hike takes the left fork, signed 181. The first part of the road is on top of an old dike through cottonwood trees. After a bit, the road/trail drops leaves the dike and crosses a lower, grassy area. The road climbs over another dike and works its way into another grove of cottonwoods. Soon, you'll come to the Sandy River Delta Dam, a pretty much forgotten man-made structure. Today the dam is nearly buried in accumulated sediment and it looks like a road paved with over-sized cobbles. There's talk of removing the dam and reopening this channel. Beyond the dam, there are two sets of power lines and the road forks again under the second set. Continuing on a straight course, on Road 182.

Road 182 gradually fades, but if you continue across the fields, you'll come to a better road, which is an extension of road 181. Turn right and travel northward toward the river mouth. After 0.3 miles, you'll quickly come to the Columbia River. Relax and soak in whatever weather mother nature is providing you.

When you're ready, return on Road 181 until you come to the first power line tower. From here walk straight south to the shore of the Sandy River. Turn left and walk upstream on an obvious path. Don't stray to close to the river as this section of the riverbank is being actively eroded by the river and the ground near the river regularly cascades into the river. In about a half mile, you'll return to Road 182, near the dam. After you cross the dam, you'll have a couple of choices. You can return the way you came, or you can take the first left and walk a single tread towards the east.

This narrow path passes through cottonwood trees and blackberry bushes. This trail can be muddy and there are several places where the plantlife forms a tunnel over the trail. After another half mile or so, you'll come out on another abandoned road near another tower. This is Road 180. Turning left will allow you to follow the old, silt filled channel to the river, where there are views of Vancouver and Mount Hood. Returning and heading to the right takes you past an interesting old corral back to the trailhead.

Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • None

Trip Reports

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Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver, by Douglas Lorain
  • Columbia River Gorge, 42 Scenic Hikes, by Don & Roberta Lowe

More Links

Contributors

Portland Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.