Sandy River - Jim Slagle Loop Trail
ElevationAscent: 504' 154 m
Descent: -505' -154 m
High: 860' 262 m
Low: 372' 113 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)
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“This gem of a trail in Sandy River Park brings you to the Sandy River near its confluence with Cedar Creek.”— Kathleen Walker
Family Friendly This trail has some short, steeper sections down to the river, but most of it is easy for kids if they can make the distance.
The trail leads you to the shores of the Sandy River where Cedar Creek joins the main channel. The Cedar Creek Fish Hatchery is located upstream from the destination and fall Chinook salmon return to spawn when fall rains provide enough flow in the creek. They are easily visible making redds, and you can see males fighting each other. The Sandy River at the bottom of the trail is remote but can be crowded with folks fishing. Be careful of those casting lines. The water is cold and swift, and the river makes a large "oxbow" (u turn) just downstream with large log and debris jams. Swimming is not recommended.
The trail designer and trail namesake, Jim Slagle, located the trail to highlight the large nurse logs and nurse stumps (trees trees growing out of down logs and stumps), interesting hardwood trees, good views, and the largest western red cedar for miles around. This out-and-back hike can also be made into a loop or a figure 8 using the entire part of the Upper Sandy River Trail and Sandy River Midway Trail. This trail is a hidden gem in Sandy's largest park.
For one of the best viewpoints and photo opportunity in Oregon, stop at the Jonsrud Viewpoint 1/2 mile north down Bluff Road after your hike. The viewpoint overlooks Sandy River Park, the river's oxbow, Mt. Hood with a large green meadow below, Portland's water source the Bull Run Watershed, Mt. Adams, and Larch Mountain--a spectacular viewpoint! Bonus points for going at sunset for alpenglow on Mt. Hood!
Mountain bikes are allowed on this trail, although the last drop to the river is difficult for bikes.
Head down to the viewpoint after the hike and then into Sandy for a great meal, cup of coffee, or cold beer. AntFarm Cafe, Beer Den, and Tollgate Bakery are our favorite post-hike stops.
This trail was designed by a famous Northwest trail designer (and local Sandy resident!) Jim Slagle. It was the last trail he designed before his retirement after 40+ years of trail design including Sandy's other gem, Tickle Creek Trail and most of the trails in the Mt. St. Helens Monument. The local youth corps AntFarm worked with local trail builder Gene Tilgner to construct the Jim Slagle Loop Trail in 2015. The first section of trail was an older section of trail that was repaired. There is a rocky, wet area crossing, a large nurse stump with a tree growing out of it, and then a small creek with a culvert at side logs.
Continue north and cross over a large culvert that is another small tributary to the Sandy River. The trail then heads east and at a large cedar snag, there is an intersection. The Jim Slagle Loop turns to the left and going straight ahead is the short Sandy River Midway Trail that takes you back to the logging road (Upper Sandy River Trail). Turn left (north) to remain on the Jim Slagle Loop Trail. The trail crosses another small creek before coming out to a viewpoint towards the river. Along this section of trail is a very large big leaf maple tree that makes a handy snack or lunch stop. The trail then gets into thicker cedar forests with a steep side slope. The trail sides have ferns and "pistol butted" trees growing out of the slopes demonstrating the occasional landslides and loose soil. The trail drops into an open wet area and crosses a boardwalk/bridge made from parts of the old large fallen cedar tree next to the trail. There is private land adjacent to this spot, so please stay on the trail.
Head right after the boardwalk, and you come to a flat bench area of dense second growth western red cedar thicket located above the river. The trail then leads you to the largest tree (western red cedar) around--a great photo op! The trail then comes to the intersection with the upper and lower Sandy River Trail. Take a left to the head to the river.
Before the trail drops to the river, there is a short spur to a viewpoint that shows a small waterfall and the Sandy River beyond. Please do not cut switchbacks that drop to the river as this trail is difficult to maintain and is easily eroded. At the Sandy River, you may see some fishermen and women. The Cedar Creek flows into the main channel just upstream. There is a fish hatchery further up Cedar Creek which makes this confluence a popular destination for returning spawning salmon and folks fishing and fish watching in fall. A separate trail comes down to this point from the fish hatchery. The trail peters out at the river, but fishing trails lead downstream. Be careful, these trails are not designed or maintained, and can be unstable and adjacent to fast moving water. The ice cold Sandy River makes an "oxbow" (u shaped) turn just downstream. This causes fast, changing currents as well as large log debris jams.
This trail is a good place to come see salmon spawning in the fall in Cedar Creek after a good fall rain. There are also some spent dead salmon on the river bank that can attract bears and other wildlife, so keep an eye out and do not let your dog get anywhere near the carcasses if you don't want an emergency veterinarian trip. Once you head back up the trail, I recommend taking the Jim Slagle Loop Trail to return. It is amazing to have such a gem of a destination so close to Sandy.
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Land Manager: City of Sandy - Parks and Recreation