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North Oxbow Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Cobbled strand, Oxbow Regional Park (bobcat)
Riverside trail, Oxbow Regional Park (bobcat)
Glimpse of the Sandy River, Oxbow Regional Park (bobcat)
Trail route on the north bank of the Sandy River (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Oxbow Bluff TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Gordon Creek Road Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out or loop
  • Distance: 5.4 miles (in and out) or 3.6 miles (loop)
  • Elevation gain: 350 feet
  • High Point: 370 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Nettles

Contents

Hike Description

The undeveloped and forgotten wild side of Oxbow Regional Park lies north of the Sandy River and encompasses a high peninsula and cobbled Sandy River shores below a forested bluff. Access to the river is via an abandoned logging road. Fishermen's trails lead to the shoreline, which alters each year when the Sandy rages after heavy rain or snowmelt. This is a quiet place, suited to poking around, observing wildlife, and admiring the works of nature. There are few signs and no fee stations. The hike can be done as a loop using little-traveled Gordon Creek Road, or as an in and out if you want to stay away from rural traffic. A hike and bike is also an option if you leave the bike at the upper trailhead and begin your walk from the Gordon Creek Road Trailhead.

The access road curves down past the gate under cedars, Douglas-firs, and big-leaf maples. The understory is composed primarily of sword fern, snowberry, salmonberry, and Indian plum. You're on a high bluff above the Sandy with a view down through the trees of the river and across to the main section of Oxbow Regional Park. Pass a blackberry patch and stands of alders and then a second gate. The road continues to descend and makes a 180ยบ turn as you drop to river level. A spur trail leads right to the river bank. The main trail heads left from a grassy clearing back into woods of Douglas-fir, cedar, and cottonwood. Pick up another spur leading right to a beach on the river and a cobbled bar. See fishermen wading into the river on the other side of the Sandy. Along the river verge, logs have been positioned to help create spawning pools for salmon. Head upriver along the beach and then across the bar to a cobbled overflow channel and loop back. A path leads up the bank into the woods, where you locate the main trail and head right.

This trail rises slightly on an old road bed and then drops again. The tread curves left into blackberries. A spur leads right to a bank above the Sandy. Pass through a salmonberry/cottonwood bottomland before the path heads up a muddy bank and reaches a bench above the river. You can see a raft launching site across the river. Eroded bluffs on the other side reveal the deep deposits of ash carried down from a late 18th century Mount Hood eruption. Tree trunks, stark relics of a buried forest, stand vertically in the ash banks, exposed by river action. The trail passes across some soggy patches and drops. Gordon Creek Road is visible above. Carcasses of abandoned cars defile the steep brushy slopes. Saplings have been planted along here to restore the natural forest. A spur leads right down to the river for fishing access: keep left up to a parking pullout on Gordon Creek Road.

Retrace your tracks from here or, to make a shorter loop out of it, head up from the Gordon Creek Road Trailhead on the left side of the road, where there is enough of a shoulder. At the crest, turn down the Dead End road, and take the gravel track back to your car.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Open sunrise to sunset
  • No pets
  • No camping
  • No facilities

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain

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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.