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The Thumb via The Knoll Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View to Salmon River and Cascade Head from The Thumb (bobcat)
Sweet coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus) on the The Knoll Loop Trail (bobcat)
View to Devils Lake from The Knoll (bobcat)
In the alder-lined meadow on the way to The Thumb (bobcat)
On the south slope of The Thumb (bobcat)
The hike to The Thumb via The Knoll (road walk sections in orange; Xs mark No Entry trails) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: The Villages TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: The Thumb
  • Hike type: Reverse lollipop
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1180 feet
  • High point: 605 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On weekends


Hike Description

This hike takes you up along an elk–frequented ridge to a basalt formation known locally as The Thumb (or sometimes more colorfully as God's Thumb) on Siuslaw National Forest land. There are spectacular views from here of secluded coves, offshore stacks, and across the Salmon River, the great grassy promontory of Cascade Head. There are several ways to get to The Thumb. The one described here allows you to begin and end the hike in a woodland of mixed forest, parking at a cul de sac that was constructed for a failed development. Lincoln City purchased over 500 acres here in 2013 as the property went into foreclosure. The purchase protects the natural feature known as The Knoll, a spectacular viewpoint, and also includes planning for affordable housing. Note that the shorter and most popular access route in past years, from the end of Logan Road, crosses private land and is no longer tolerated. Another starting point for the hike is from the Roads End State Recreation Site, making your way up neighborhood streets, or you can begin higher up from the Sal La Sea Trailhead for a shorter in and out hike. Please stay on the trails, and respect all signs.

At the beginning of the cul de sac at the end of Devils Lake Boulevard, there's a parking pullout for a couple of cars. The trail leads west into The Villages Open Space from here and veers right to descend a slope among salmonberry, Scots broom, Sitka spruce and red alder. At a four-way junction, keep straight and cross a bridge over Logan Creek. Pass a gate and come to Sal La Sea Drive. Turn right to walk up this gravel road to reach Port Drive. There is space for parking on the right side of Sal La Sea here. Turn right on Port Drive and hike past the last house to reach a gate.

Walk around the gate, and take a grassy track leading to the right (the main track leads to a quarry). Hike up along this old road bed under red alder and Sitka spruce with thickets of blackberry, salmonberry, and elderberry. This trail can be quite muddy at times. Reach the crest of the ridge, known in these parts as The Knoll, a Lincoln City Open Space. Make a sharp left to walk out along this crest to get an expansive view to the south that includes Devils Lake, the spread of Lincoln City, the estuary of the Siletz River, and Government Point at Boiler Bay. Note that the local elk bed down in this meadow at night. Back on the main trail, continue north along the crest to a grassy clearing, and find the trail leading north along the ridge on your right. Hike through a mossy spruce forest and drop along the west side of the slope. This section of trail runs on private property with access generously granted to the public. Soon you'll rise to the junction with the remainder of the The Knoll Loop Trail. To complete the in and out hike to The Thumb, stay left.

From here, you can see the Salmon River estuary through the trees. Pass a Forest Service boundary marker, and then drop steeply down the slope to enter an expansive alder-lined meadow. The trail crosses the meadow and rises up a grassy hillside. Drop into woods on the crest, and pass another small field. The path rises and reaches a larger meadow, where it veers to the left. Reach a junction with a trail coming up from the private inholding of Camp Westwind and stay left. The trail from here drops steeply down the edge of a cove. This section can be quite muddy; combined with the steepness this can be a tricky section to navigate. Also make sure you don't step too close to the edge here as it is severely undercut in places. Then hike up to the top of The Thumb.

Take time here to admire the views north across the mouth of the Salmon River to Cascade Head as well as south to Lincoln City. The Thumb is part of a basalt dike formed during the late Eocene. The small cove below was created when the dike was breached and wave action began to rapidly gouge out the much softer siltstones and claystones of the Nestucca Formation, which the dike had been protecting. An even larger cove, formed in the same way, is just north of this one. Various stacks and rocks scattered below you near a secluded beach preview the eventual fate of The Thumb, which will become a isolated sea stack in time.

A trail descends the steep, grassy slope of The Thumb across the meadow below you. Note, however, that once in the spruce forest, you will reach the National Forest boundary and any further progress would be illegal. Instead, return the way you came to the The Knoll Loop-The Thumb Trail Junction and bear left to complete the loop.

The trail descends steeply on a mossy tread through a salmonberry/sword fern corridor under hemlock, spruce, and alder. After the path levels on an old road bed, you'll hear Logan Creek running to your right and the tread becomes rather boggy. You'll hike through shady hemlock forest and bear right at a junction. The route then drops into a dense wood of younger spruce trees and heads up a short, sharp rise before dropping to a junction. Turn right here, and keep left at the next junction to arrive back at The Villages Trailhead.

Directions from the Roads End Trailhead:

From the Roads End Trailhead, walk back to Logan Street and walk one block north to 61st Street, crossing Logan Creek in the process. Follow 61st as it curves to the left. Keep straight at Spindrift, and then make a right on 63rd. Cross Neptune Drive and then walk up to the left on Port Drive, which curves left along a ridge lined with residences. Swing right where Port Drive becomes gravel and keep straight at Sal La Sea Drive. Pass the last house and reach a gate.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Take care: there are steep drop-offs and unstable slopes
  • No facilities at The Villages Trailhead; restrooms, interpretive signs, and picnic tables at Roads End Trailhead
  • Take your valuables with you; do not leave bags visible in your vehicle

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast 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.

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