Distance: 5.8 miles (one way)
Walk duration: 2 hours 15 minutes
Travel time to trail head: 26 minutes (20.6 miles)
Elevation change: 520 ft rise in elevation from Scappoose to Spitzenberg Jct.
Brief summary: This once privately owned (Crown Zellerbach) logging road parallels the Scappoose to Vernonia road. This trail actually goes down to the banks of the Columbia at Chapman Landing about 2 miles east of US 30, but I have chosen to begin the trail description starting at the Trail’s intersection with Highway 30. Initially it runs straight through fields and next to homes before ascending slightly up the side of the eastern valley wall. From there it traverses the valley all the way to the westward turn in the Scappoose/Vernonia road at Spitzenburg about 5.8 miles distant. Most of the way is clear, with one washed out culvert that requires the hiker to descend to the creek and ascend the opposite side – not to difficult or deep.
The history of this trail begins in 1906 when Fred and Simcoe Chapman decided to construct a railroad to help them bring their timber to the banks of the Columbia River from where it could be transported to market. Consequently they constructed a rail line up the North Scappoose Creek valley, past Camp 8 – a major logging depot. In 1910 they built a 1712 foot tunnel to avoid the excessively steep grades in the upper reaches of the valley that gave them access to the “big Timber’ located in the Nehalem Valley. The tunnel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not part of the trail and it is not open to protect the public and the tunnel. There are side trails that lead down to the tunnel and I have heard reports that some intrepid (foolhardy) types actually traversed the partially caved-in tunnel taking about 90 minutes to get through. You won’t me trying that one – too muddy, too dangerous and too spooky!
In 1943, Crown Zellerbach, a major regional logging company acquired the rail line and using the excellent railroad grade converted it into a logging road. The tunnel could not be converted for log trucks, so a road was built to cross the pass above the tunnel. The tunnel has fallen into significant disrepair since that time.
In 2004, Columbia County purchased the Crown Zellerbach Logging Road from the Hancock Timber Company with grants from the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State Parks.
The first two miles (west of US 30) of the CZ trail skirt fields, cross a brook and bypass occasional house At the end of this flat and relatively open landscape the valley narrows and the trail become much more scenic. This is the location of the official CZ Trail head with lots of parking and located across from a convenience store.
Just beyond this spacious trail head, the trail enters the woods alongside the eastern wall of the North Scappoose Creek valley. From here the trail passes through mixed forest comprised of Alder, Broadleaf maple, Douglas fir and Hemlock. As you follow this trail you will cross these listed roads at the following distances:
Road or Obstacle: From last point: From Hwy 30
Highway 30 0 miles 0 miles
Wikstrom Road 1.7 miles 1.7 miles
CZ Trail head .1 mile 1.8 miles
Deane Road 1.2 miles 3 miles
Pioneer Road .1 mile 3.1 miles
Pond Drive .6 mile 3.6 miles
Walker Road .8 miles 4.5 miles
Earth slide .4 miles 4.9 miles
Alder Creek .7 mile 5.5 miles
Spitzenberg Jct .3 miles 5.8 miles
At Pond Drive the trail bends in a northeasterly direction and skirts around the east side of Heinen Pond – a small idyllic little pond set between the road and the CZ Trail. Walker Road is a paved rural route that crossed the trail as it climbs up the hill.
About .4 miles beyond Walker Road, a rock-slide has blocked the trail, forcing the walkers to scramble over a small mound of earth and rock before resuming the smooth trail.
At Alder Creek the water has washed out the trail and you will have to scramble down to the bottom of the wash-out and back up the other side – one of the few places where the trail is unimproved and required a short “scramble”.
A little bit (.3 miles) beyond the Alder Creek washout the trail turns Westwards and soon crosses the Scappoose/Vernonia Highway. The CZ Trail crosses the highway a few yards south of where Cater Road veers off to the NE and leads (via Sykes Road) into St. Helens. This marks the end of the Spitzenberg-to-Scappoose segment of this trial,
On the west side of the highway crossing is a wide open area (suitable for parking) that marks the beginning/terminus of the Summit-to-Spitzenberg segment of this trail.