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Sutton Creek Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Sea Lion Point from Holman Vista, Sutton Creek (bobcat)
Coast silk tassel (Garrya elliptica), Sutton Creek (bobcat)
Spruce contortions, Sutton Creek (bobcat)
Sandy slope, Sutton Creek Loop (bobcat)
Looking over Sutton Creek, Sutton Creek Trail (bobcat)
The two loops at Sutton Creek (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: USFS/Caltopo

Contents

Hike Description

The northernmost stretch of the Oregon Dunes, the largest area of sandunes on the North American continent, is just north of Florence. Here, Sutton Creek meanders through thickly vegetated older dunes before reaching a deflation zone and foredune area and then the Pacific Ocean. Two connected loops take you through this landscape dominated by shore pine and Sitka spruce, and you’re never far from Sutton Creek. The creek and nearby lake are named after Orrin Sutton, a homesteader in the area.

Take the paved trail to the right of the restrooms: this path leads out to the Holman Vista. You’ll hike through a thicket of salal, waxmyrtle, and silktassel under contorted, windswept Sitka spruce. The silk tassel (Garrya elliptica) blooms here in winter displaying pendulous chains of flowers all around the parking area. Reach a viewing platform that looks over Sutton Creek to the oceanfront dunes. Looking north, there are seasonal lakes, the low profile of Cape Mountain, and Sea Lion Point (You should be able to make out the entrance building to the Sea Lion Caves). The platform is named after C.D. (Dave) Holman, editor and publisher of the Siuslaw News and a tireless advocate for conservation of the Oregon Dunes.

Return to the parking area, and take the trail leading out from the northwest corner of the lot. Immediately, you’ll come to a junction. Going left takes you down to a ford of Sutton Creek and then out across the dunes to Baker Beach. To continue on the loop, keep right, and hike up a thickly vegetated dune playing host to gnarled Sitka spruce festooned with leathery polypody ferns. Hike through an understory of waxmyrtle, salal, evergreen huckleberry, and silktassel. At a break in the vegetation, get a view north to the deflation zone colonized by shore pines and a depression which becomes seasonal lake. A spur left leads to a view over Sutton Creek to a stand of alders. More rhododendrons, which bloom here in May, enter the mix as you switchback up another forested dune shaded by shore pines. A viewpoint offers an expanse of Sutton Creek from above. Drop to a footbridge and a junction closing the first short loop. Stay to the left and come to the Sutton Creek Loop-Sutton Creek North Trail Junction, and go left at a kiosk to walk over a footbridge spanning Sutton Creek.

The creek here is hemmed in by a thicket of escallonia, an imported species from Chile. Switchback up, drop a little, and switchback again under a canopy of shore pine. The path undulates and winds on ancient dunes before reaching a crest that has been colonized by invasive and spiny gorse as well as Scots broom. Skirt the edge of a more open dunescape, getting views north to Cape Mountain. Drop to the Sutton Creek North-Alder Dune Trail Junction, and keep right. The sandy track rises into the dunes again, reaching a trail junction at a swing dangling from a fallen Sitka spruce. Go right here to get frequent glimpses of Sutton Creek below. Pass a gnarled cedar at the site of an old bridge crossing, and hike above the creek with Douglas-firs now in the mix. At a junction, go right over a footbridge to reach the Sutton Campground.

Make a right here along the road that traverses the B Loop. Past Campsite #23, make a right on a short trail that arrives at the A Loop. Walk to the right, passing the group campsite and restrooms. Take the trail leading through a tunnel of evergreen huckleberry, hiking above an oxbow meander on Sutton Creek. Wind through a wood of rhododendron and large spruce to switchback up and then drop. The trail braids briefly at a set of steps before switchbacking up an old dune ridge from the creek. Drop to a junction at a grassy expanse known as Bolduc’s Meadow. The place was once a resort, constructed in the 1930s, of several small cabins. Nothing remains of these structures and the meadow is now a favorite run for local dog owners. Keep straight across the meadow, and pass the Sutton Creek Loop-Sutton Creek North Trail Junction and footbridge. At the third junction, go left to take the shortest route back to the parking area. Undulate through dense thickets before arriving at the Sutton Beach Trailhead.


Maps

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass) required
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, viewing platform, interpretive signs
  • Dogs on leash
  • Beach access closed: March 15th – September 15th (Snowy plover nesting area)

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • 120 Hikes on the Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Day Hiking: Oregon Coast by Bonnie Henderson
  • Hiking the Oregon Coast by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Hike America: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Oregon Campgrounds Hiking Guide by Rhonda & George Ostertag
  • Siuslaw Forest Hikes: A Guide to Oregon’s Central Coast Range Trails by Irene & Dick Lilja
  • Oregon’s Best Wildflower Hikes: Northwest Region by George Wuerthner
  • Hiking Oregon by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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.