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Sundial Beach Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Looking across to Lady Island and Washougal from Sundial Beach (romann)
View across the Sandy River (romann)
Common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Sundial Beach (bobcat)
Sandy River mouth at Sundial Beach (romann)
The Sundial Beach loop described (bobcat)
  • Start point: Graham Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Sundial Beach
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 40 feet
  • High Point: 40 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

A paved section of the Portland Metro Area’s 40-mile Loop runs between industrial facilities and a Columbia River beach and the Sandy River, the whole area being part of the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park. Both sides of the paved trail were part of the Superfund cleanup following the demolition of the Reynolds Aluminum Plant (the site now occupied by a FedEx Package Distribution Center) after its closure in 2002. Unpaved trails lead from the tarmac path through a riparian corridor dominated by cottonwoods to Sundial Beach on the Columbia River. The loop at the end of the hike encompasses 16-acre Company Lake, also part of the Superfund cleanup. A note of caution should be added: the wooded areas are sometimes the camping places of transients and some may not feel safe straying from the paved trail, especially when alone.

A paved trail runs from Graham Road below a levee and passes a construction yard and sewerage treatment plant on the left. The trail rises to the top of the levee. To your right is the Sandy River, at the end of its run, and bordered by oaks and thickets of Armenian blackberry. Another option is a footpath that leads back along a large field east of the levee to Harlow Road.

Continue along the crest of levee, with a woodland of cottonwood, ash, and oak to your left. Meet a powerline corridor and pass a path leading right down to the mouth of the Sandy. Keeping to the levee path, see a wildlife habitat restoration area at a seasonal lake down to your right. Next, note the large FedEx facility, formerly an aluminum plant, to your left. Reach a four-way intersection, and go right on a gravel track, passing a gate into Port of Portland property.

The road bed heads into a riparian woodland of Oregon ash, black cottonwood, red osier dogwood, and Pacific willow. Blackberry runs rampant here as well. Pass a large, flat graveled area on your left and keep straight at a junction. Take a footpath where it peels off the grassy track into the blackberries. This leads out to the Columbia shore at Sundial Beach, with the Sandy River confluence to your right and Lady island across from you. There are shoals in the river here and wide sandflats at low river levels in late summer and fall. Heading right towards the Sandy gets you into increasingly soft sand with a chance of sinking deep.

Walk left along the sand flats, which jut into the river at low tide. In late summer, sneezeweed, Douglas’ aster and coreopsis bloom on the willowy verge. Reach the west end of Sundial Beach before a gravel loading dock (Gresham Sand and Gravel) and head up the bank, passing a makeshift brick-lined firepit. Go left on a grassy track in the cottonwood forest and reach a junction. Here go right, cross a shallow seasonal slough, and reach the northwest corner of Company Lake. A use trail leads above the riprap on the west bank of the lake. Scramble up to the levee where a pair of large pipes emerge and enter the lake. (If this route at the west end of the lake looks sketchy or under water, head east along the lake shore and go right the main entrance track to the area).

From the top of the levee, you can see the Sundial Road Trailhead, another access point to the beach. Walk east on the paved 40-mile Loop section, getting views of Company Lake to your left and the Troutdale Substation and FedEx facility to your right. Close the loop and head back to the Graham Road Trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash on the levee trail

Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • Green Trails Maps: Columbia Gorge West, OR #428S

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

More Links


Contributors

Oregon 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.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.