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Alder Ridge Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Large Douglas-fir on Alder Ridge (bobcat)
View across the Sandy River Gorge from Alder Ridge (bobcat)
Cedar forest and loop trail around the meadow, Alder Ridge (bobcat)
Map showing the loop on Alder Ridge (bobcat)
  • Start point: Homan Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Alder Ridge Elk Meadow
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 380 feet
  • High Point: 705 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

The Homan Road Trailhead is the back door to Oxbow Regional Park's network of trails and is the official equestrian trailhead; there are no fee stations here although all park rules, such as a ban on pets, still apply. From here, you can hike down a series of switchbacks in lush coniferous forest to a 10-acre ridge top meadow. This meadow was carved out of the forest in the mid-1990s to provide a grazing area for elk and keep them away from surrounding farmland and nurseries. However, hikers are far more likely to spot the resident deer herd here than elk. From Marker H, on the northwest side of the meadow, a maintenance road leads down to connect with Oxbow's trails along the Sandy River.

Hike on a level trail past the Oxbow Regional Park sign on the left side of the dead end – to the right is a private driveway. These are lovely, lush woods of Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, big-leaf maple, and sword fern. Note that many of the cedars have had strips of bark peeled off of them; it is unknown why this was done or if this was an act of vandalism. Such stripping of cedars, which usually doesn’t kill the tree, was done by Pacific Northwest Natives: the inner bark of the cedar was processed into clothing. There’s a viewpoint to the right where you can look across the Sandy River Gorge although the river itself is not in view. The trail drops down the ridge crest, making fourteen switchbacks (the upper ones have railings) to the edge of a small forested plateau. Reach a three-way junction at Marker I. An Area Closed sign blocks a steep trail, now much obscured by blowdown and slides, that originally led from here down to the Ancient Forest.

Keep left at this junction and hike to a maintenance road and Marker H. From here, you can hike down the road to connect with the network of trails described in the Oxbow Loop Hike. Go right on the road to get a view of the meadow and see if any deer are out grazing. Elk from the Sandy River Gorge herd also visit the meadow, but are usually seen around sunrise and sunset. Back at Marker H, continue clockwise around the meadow. Walk in lush woods of cedar, Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, and hemlock. There’s a viewpoint through trees down to the river. The trail continues through cedar groves and passes the south side of the meadow heading through more deciduous woods of alder and maple. Notice a few big Douglas-firs here. Reach Marker I at the three-way junction, and go left to hike the 14 switchbacks back up to the trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No fees at Homan Road Trailhead
  • No pets
  • Open 6:30 a.m. to sunset
  • Campground, picnic areas, restrooms in lower area of the park


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan

More Links


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.