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Rockaway Cedar Preserve Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Rockaway Cedar, Cedar Wetlands Preserve, Rockaway Beach (bobcat)
In the spruce swamp, Old Growth Cedar Preserve (bobcat)
Skunk-cabbage bog, Old Growth Cedar Preserve (bobcat)
Entering dense woods, Old Growth Cedar Preserve (bobcat)
The little loop at Rockaway Beach's Old Growth Cedar Preserve (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Old Growth Cedar Preserve TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Rockaway Cedar
  • Hike Type: Lollipop loop
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 20 feet
  • High Point: 60 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

At 154 feet in height and almost 50 feet in circumference, Rockaway Beach’s magnificent old cedar resides amid a tiny remnant of old-growth coastal bog among other large Sitka spruce and western red-cedar trees. Along this developed stretch of coastline, it’s a surprise to explore the dark interior of such a primeval swamp, the 45 boggy acres of the Old Growth Cedar Preserve. The tree and the bog are now accessed by a universal access raised boardwalk, opened in June 2019, that is half a mile long. You return via a short (and optional) loop from the old cedar that tunnels through the salal on a rough, rooty, squishy tread that treats you to close encounters with the Saltair Creek Marsh (hiking boots, not tennis shoes, recommended for this part).

The boardwalk begins from the trailhead on Highway 101, right at the welcome sign for Rockaway Beach. You'll proceed through a dense thicket of willow, with alder, hemlock, and a few Sitka spruce towering higher. Skunk-cabbage festoons the small open area in the marsh. Salal, salmonberry, and coast sedge form an undergrowth. Stark skeletons of deceased spruce jut skyward. At a junction, bear right over more marshland to pass into a dense, shady woodland where cedars become more prevalent. Evergreen huckleberry and red huckleberry can be found here. You'll pass a couple of large spruce trees and an even bigger stump to cross a high bridge over a depression.

Soon reach the new platform around the Rockaway Cedar, one of Oregon’s biggest trees in terms of sheer mass and, with its gnarly bark and contorted trunk, one of the most personable at an estimated 500-900 years old. Look up and note the hemlocks that sprouted high above and sent their roots down through the tree’s rotten core. The platform here was constructed to avoid soil compaction, so please stay on it. There's a picnic table for a convenient snack break.

You can acquire a closer experience of Saltair Creek’s soggy bottomland by taking the steps down on the other side of the old cedar. This narrow trail winds through tunnels of salal, evergreen huckleberry, and salmonberry, and you'll pass another ancient cedar. When you come to a spur off the main boardwalk, go left to reach a viewing platform with benches and a picnic table. Then return to the main boardwalk junction, passing first over Saltair Creek, and bear right for your vehicle.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Open sunrise to sunset
  • Dogs on leash
  • Port-a-potty, picnic tables on the boardwalk

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • The Disabled Hiker's Guide to Western Washington and Oregon by Syren Nagakyrie
  • 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast by William L. Sullivan

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.