Steam Donkey

Brief description:

This Tillamook State Forest trail is more than half way to the coast and is accessed by a turn off at the Sunset Rest Area. This trail is part of the Northern Route.

Distance: .8 miles

Walk duration: 20-30 minutes

Travel time to trail head: 50 minutes (43 miles) from the Sylvan interchange on Highway 26 to turn-off from Highway 26 at the rest area.

Elevation change: about 120 feet – minimal!

Trail Log: Configured like a figure 8, these two short trails comprise an interpretative trail that attempt to give you some idea of what it was like to log these hills in the early 20th century. As an “interpretive trail”, I think the concept fails to connect. But as a walking trail that shows off the huge stumps of yesteryear and the charm of our deeply shaded forests,  the Springboard trail (.3 miles) and the upper Dooley Spur Loop Trail (.5 miles) easily succeed.

Both trails are well maintained and there is a nice bench near the interpretive sign at the midpoint of the figure 8 – where the two trails join. The signage does give a good description of the logging rigging that was used, but it’s unfortunate that they could not leave an actual old steam donkey in situ to help bring this early logging technology to life.

The fact that the hills all around have now been obscured by the new growth which makes it more difficult to envision the scale of the operation when it was operating in the 1920’s.

But the walk is certainly to be recommended. I’ve driven by this rest area for years and have never stopped to consider this little trail. Now I will cheerfully recommend it as a very worthwhile diversion for the 20-30 minutes it takes to circumnavigate the two trails!

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