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Honeyman State Park Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Cleawox Lake, Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
Shore of Cleawox Lake, Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
CCC bathhouse, Cleawox Lake, Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
Island in Woahink Lake, Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
Small beach on Woahink Lake, Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
Manzanita berries, Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
Yardangs and tree island in the sand dunes near Honeyman State Park (bobcat)
The various trail options at Honeyman State Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: MapBuilder Topo/Caltopo
  • Start point: Honeyman Sand Dunes TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: East Woahink Trailhead
  • Trail log:
  • Hike Type: In and out + loops
  • Distance: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 470 feet
  • High Point: 250 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, in summer

Contents

Hike Description

Honeyman State Park, with its popular sandboarding dune and two picturesque lakes, is a year-round destination but is far less busy mid-fall through mid-spring. There are several short hikes here that can be combined into one longer excursion or done separately, as you wish. The hike description follows the list below. All the mileages are round-trip from the Honeyman Sand Dunes Trailhead.

  • Cleawox Lake: 1.0 miles
  • Woahink Lakeside Trail: 3.3 miles
  • Woahink Lake North Shore: 2.8 miles + 1.7 miles for Woahink Lakeside Trail
  • Honeyman Dunes Loop: 2.3 miles


At the end of the last ice age, sea levels rose and river and creek valleys all up and down the coast were “drowned” (These non-glacial inlets are called rias). Sand dunes built up along behind the beaches and moved inland to dam the creeks, creating numerous multi-limbed barrage lakes behind the dunes. Cleawox Lake and Woahink Lake, both partially within Jesse M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, are the result of this process.

Jesse Millar Honeyman was an activist and president of the Oregon Roadside Council who promoted the preservation of beautiful scenery along Oregon’s highways in the 1920s and 1930s. She and Samuel Boardman, then superintendent of Oregon’s state parks system, worked together to add many areas on the coast to the state park system. In 1935, Boardman got CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) crews to construct trails and structures in the state parks. Several buildings and pathways in Honeyman State Park remain from that time, some of the best examples of the CCC’s work on the Oregon Coast. The park was dedicated in Jesse M. Honeyman’s honor in 1941. The state’s second-largest campground was added in 1950.

From the restrooms at the day-use area, find the trail that leads east along the shore of Cleawox Lake. You can see about half of the lake from this shore; the other half is a long narrow arm that is the drowned valley of Buck Creek. Sand dunes moving about 15 to 20 feet a year are filling in the lake little by little. In the summer, Cleawox Lake resounds with the chatter and laughter of swimmers, paddleboaters, and sandboarders sliding down the dune to the west. You’ll walk past picnic tables under shore pines and large waxmyrtles. A floating dock allows you to scope out the lakeshore for great blue herons, grebes, geese, buffleheads, and other waterfowl. Salal and evergreen huckleberry form an understory along the trail. Western red-cedar, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and rhododendron are also part of the forest mix here. At a junction at the east end of the lake (You will return to here), go left. Cross the boat launch ramp, and pass a vehicle pullout with a memorial to Jesse Honeyman. Hike in along an inlet colonized by slough sedge, and pass some picnic tables to reach a rental shack and the old CCC bathhouse, now a concession building and restroom on the National Register of Historic Places. You can walk past the swimming beach to get views of dunes across the lake and reach a covered picnic gazebo also constructed by the CCC. Then return the way you came to the junction just past the boat launch at the southeast corner of the lake.

Go left here, and hike up to where the park road splits. Take the left fork for about 40 yards, and find where a trail crosses the road. Head left into a dense evergreen huckleberry thicket and pass an old pumphouse. Reach the Cleawox Lake-Honeyman Bike Trail Junction, and go left on the paved bicycle path. Walk by a gated maintenance yard, and then cross Highway 101 on a wide bike/pedestrian overpass. Wind down, keeping right at a switchback, and make another switchback under tall Sitka spruce and Douglas-firs. You’ll see the sign for the Woahink Lakeside Trail, first constructed by the CCC around 1938, then abandoned, and recently resurrected.

Take this 1 ¾ mile lollipop loop, hiking on a rooty duff tread above the shore of Woahink Lake. Woahink is much larger than Cleawox Lake, and most of its shoreline is in private hands. It is also the deepest lake of the sand dune lakes, about 75 feet at its greatest depth, which is 36 feet below sea level. Its convoluted shoreline comprises several drowned creek valleys and perhaps an ancient channel of the Siltcoos River. You can see a picturesque forested islet across the water. Pass a memorial bench to a couple who vacationed in Honeyman State Park for 60 years, and then reach a boardwalk and wooden steps. Wind up into dark woods above a sword fern gully. Reach the junction for the loop at the end of this trail, and go right. Pass through a thinned wood of young Douglas-fir and hemlock before dipping into a mature forest. Reenter the thinned area, and then reach the lakeshore thickets again. Hike up the sword fern gully to the junction, and turn right to return to the trailhead for the lakeshore trail.

Go right here on the paved bike path, passing a large Sitka spruce. Go straight when you come to a paved road, and arrive at the group campground. Go right at a junction, and drop to Canary Road to cross a bridge over one of the several arms of Woahink Lake. At the other end of the bridge, go right on an old road that burrows through a dense thicket to reach a small beach. A trail ascends to your left to a covered picnic shelter, where you can go right on a shore trail past picnic tables. Wind through a tunnel of evergreen huckleberries to reach a second bridge on Canary Road. Cross this arm of the lake. A trail leads in after the bridge to reach the large East Woahink Trailhead, with its boat launch and picnic area. This open area was once a shady forest that was destroyed in the 1962 Columbus Day Storm. After exploring the lake shore here, return the way you came using the trails (Don’t use Canary Road: it has no verge). Cross the overpass over Highway 101 and, at the Cleawox Lake-Honeyman Bike Trail Junction, keep left on the bike trail.

Descend through tall second-growth Douglas-fir to reach the B Loop of the campground. Go right and then left, with the campground’s yurts to your right. Keep straight on the campground road to a junction with a two-way road. Go right and then left on the main campground road. Make a right onto the F Loop, passing the campground’s Welcome Center. Walk around the outer F Loop. Just past Campsite 262, find the Dunes Trail leading up to the sand dunes area.

Bear right on the trail above a sandy sink which has an old vehicle track running across it. Before the forest edge, bear left and wind down through a shore pine/manzanita thicket. Then slog up the steep slope of a large oblique dune whose summit is 250 feet above sea level. Posts mark the boundary of the heavily tracked ORV area down to your left. From the summit of the dune, you can see to the thickets of the swampy deflation plain, then the coastal foredunes and the Pacific Ocean. Make your way towards the tree island ahead. In the winter, this summit is incised with wind-sculpted gullies known as yardangs. Angle down the dune’s steep north face when you reach the tree island, and hike east along the dune’s base, passing a closure sign, until you reach a foot trail heading north along sandy hummocks bound by invasive European beachgrass. Drop down into a wide sandy bowl, and then angle right up a sand gully. From the crest of this dune, descend again to take the obvious steep path up the next dune ridge. The crest here affords a stunning view over Cleawox Lake. You’re also above the park’s sandboarding slope, which you need to angle down to reach the wide path that leads to the Honeyman Sand Dunes Trailhead.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • $5 day-use fee or State Parks Pass
  • Day-use area open dawn to dusk
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, campground
  • Dogs on leash
  • Pets not permitted on the Cleawox Lake beach
  • Share paved trail with bikes

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

Note that none of these guidebooks describes all of the trail options:

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan

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.