Categories
Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast

Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End – 3/13/2021

We were hoping for some nicer weather on the Saturday before the dreaded “Spring forward” which always seems to be the harder of the two time changes to adjust to. In addition to adjusting to the struggle, adjusting to the change springing forward also meant losing an hour of light in the morning when we like to do our hiking. We got our nice weather so we headed out to Lincoln City to explore some of the nearby trails and cross off another of Sullivan’s featured hikes at Roads End Beach. The hike at Roads End (#35 in the 3rd edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range) was one nine remaining featured hikes in his third edition which we reverted back to this year due to not knowing when (if) the final featured hike in his 4th edition, the Salmonberry Railroad, will reopen to hikers (post).

The Roads End hike is a roughly 2.8 mile out and back along Roads End Beach at the north end of Lincoln City which gave us an opportunity to add some mileage to our day and check out two other nearby destinations. The first of which was a quick stop at the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge just south of Lincoln City. With the time change not yet happening we were able to arrive early and start hiking by 6:30am and more importantly drive through Lincoln City without any traffic to speak of.
IMG_0631

The refuge offers a single trail, a short lollipop loop (just under a mile) around Alder Island. Canoeing and kayaking is a popular activity here. It was in the mid 30’s as we set off from the small parking area so there were no human paddlers out yet but the frosty temperature didn’t dissuade others.
IMG_0632Mallard pair

IMG_0635Canada geese

IMG_0642Goose and a mallard in the channels.

While the Sun wasn’t quite above the Coast Range great blue herons were already busy working on building a nest in some trees across a channel.
IMG_0639

IMG_0643

IMG_0645

IMG_0647

It wasn’t just the bigger birds that were busy. A ruby-crowned kinglet was busy in the brush.
Ruby-crowned kinglet

Approximately .2 miles north of the parking area we made a hard right turn crossing over some water to Alder Island and the start of the short loop.
IMG_0656Several interpretive signs were placed along the loop.

IMG_0657A reminder that COVID-19 is still an issue.

The trail passed through stands of alder as it followed a small branch of the Siletz River for .3 miles before reaching a bench facing the main branch of the river. There were a number of ducks a geese in the channel but the highlight came when Heather spotted something heading down to the water on the far side ahead of us. It was a river otter! This had been one of, if not the, most wanted animal sightings on our list of critters we’d yet to see while hiking (or driving to a hike). Unfortunately the otter was too quick and far enough away in the low morning light to get more than a blurry photo of it swimming across the channel.
IMG_0662The larger muddy area along the bank ahead on the right is where Heather spotted the otter.

IMG_0665Alder lined trail.

IMG_0659Blurry photo of a non-breeding male hooded merganser.

Blurry River OtterThe blurry river otter.

IMG_0670Another mallard

IMG_0672Canada geese

IMG_0678

IMG_0681Siletz River

The bench might have been a nice place to sit for awhile had it been a little warmer but we needed to keep moving so we continued on the loop which led us back along the main river channel,
IMG_0685Western grebe

IMG_0688Goose and a bufflehead (the duck not the post)

IMG_0689Bufflehead

IMG_0697

IMG_0701Spring is coming!

We completed the loop and headed back to the car just as the Sun was cresting the foothills.
IMG_0702

We then drove back through Lincoln City (still with very little traffic) and made our way to the parking lot at the Roads End Recreation Site.
IMG_0703Sentry at the Roads End entrance.

We weren’t quite ready to head out along the beach though. Before doing the featured hike we planned on visiting the increasingly popular God’s Thumb. We were hoping that 7:30am was still early enough to avoid the crowds that were sure to show up later in the day. While there are two closer trailheads (The Villages and the Sal La Sea Trailhead), parking at Roads End meant having access to bathrooms and not having to move the car again.

God’s Thumb (arrow) from the Roads End parking Area

We followed the Oregon Hikers Field Guide directions (see link for God’s Thumb above) to make our way up through the neighborhood between Roads End and the Sal La Sea Trailhead.
There weren’t any people but the neighborhood was fairly active.
IMG_0712

IMG_0715

We passed a single car parked at the trailhead as we continued on by a gate across an old roadbed.
IMG_0717

IMG_0718

We had walked up some steep hills through the neighborhood and that theme continued on the old road bed for .4 miles before leveling out at a ridge top junction.
IMG_0722It’s hard to tell just how much uphill this is. Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy.

IMG_0723A little easier to see the uphill here, this was near the top.

IMG_0724The junction.

We turned left at the junction following the ridge out to The Knoll, an open space overlooking Lincoln City to the south.
IMG_0725

IMG_0729

IMG_0733The Roads End parking area is the open green space in the center along the ocean.

IMG_0731The Pacific Ocean.

IMG_0735Roads End Point jutting out to the north.

IMG_0737The Knoll

We returned to the junction and continued straight following the ridge north.
IMG_0738

IMG_0740Snow queen

IMG_0744More signs of Spring, salmonberry blossom and buds.

IMG_0749Sitka spruce and ferns along the ridge.

At the far end of the ridge (after approx 1/3 of a mile) we came to another junction with a trail coming up from the trailhead at The Villages.
IMG_0750

Here we turned left and began a short descent that looked to be in some doubt due to several large downed trees.
IMG_0751The downed trees ahead in the distance.

As it turned out there was just one tree to duck under while the rest looked to have been recently taken care of.
IMG_0752The last of the tree fall.

The trail then dipped into an open meadow before rising again on the far side.
IMG_0754Mud had begun to be a bit of an annoyance at this point.

IMG_0756

After reaching the top of the hill the trail briefly continued north before turning left in a grassy meadow.
IMG_0759

IMG_0764Busy woodpecker

IMG_0766The trail getting nearing the turn left.

IMG_0769Lone tree in the meadow.

IMG_0771Lone robin in the lone tree.

From the meadow there was a view of Cascade Head (post) to the north and to God’s Thumb jutting out into the Pacific to the west.
IMG_0772

IMG_0776

IMG_0777

The trail to God’s Thumb crosses a narrow saddle before climbing steeply to the top of the thumb. We were thankful that it hadn’t rained for a few days which eliminated any issues that mud might have made with footing. We were also pleased that we didn’t see any other hikers in the area that we might have to pass on the way there.
IMG_0779Heather crossing the saddle (left of the big bush)

IMG_0801Cascade Head from the saddle.

IMG_0800Final pitch up to the top.

The view of Cascade Head was great from the thumb and we were able to enjoy it by ourselves.
IMG_0788Not quite to ourselves, we shared the space briefly with some chestnut backed chickadees.

IMG_0789

IMG_0795Cascade Head and the mouth of the Salmon River.

IMG_0792Roads End Point and Lincoln City

IMG_0790Rocks below God’s Thumb

We did actually see another hiker but he wasn’t coming down the trail to God’s Thumb, he was heading down to the ocean in the cove north of us.
IMG_0797

IMG_0798

After enjoying the view for a bit we headed back. We finally passed some other hikers just as we started down into the valley before climbing back up to the junction at the ridge end. It was beginning to be a fairly steady stream of hikers as we reached the junction where we forked left to make a loop out of the middle of the hike. The old road bed on this side of the ridge was much muddier than what we’d come up, but we also spotted quite a few yellow violets and a single toothwort along this route.
IMG_0807A reasonable representation of the wet/muddy conditions on this part of the hike.

IMG_0804

IMG_0815Toothwort

A mile and a half from the junction we arrived at the very crowded trailhead at The Villages. Here we turned left on a little path which quickly joined another old roadbed.
IMG_0818

IMG_0820

Less than a half mile later we were passing another gate along Sal La Sea Drive.
IMG_0828The gate and Sal La Sea Drive in the distance.

IMG_0829It’s not a hike at the coast without some skunk cabbage.

At Sal La Sea Drive I suggested turning left as it looked like the road would take us back downhill almost directly to the Roads End Recreation Site but Heather wasn’t sold on that. (She was sure there was a hidden uphill that would be worse than what we were facing to get back to the Sal La Sea Trailhead.) Never one to pass up a climb we turned right and headed up Sal La Sea Drive. It was a little over 3/4 of a mile back to that trailhead (where there were now 9 cars) and somewhere in there Heather realized she had chosen poorly. We then retraced our path from earlier back down to Roads End. Along the way we saw over a half dozen more deer among the houses which we found humorous, in the woods we saw no deer and a bunch of people and in the neighborhood we saw no people and a bunch of deer.
IMG_0833

While our plan to avoid people had worked well at Alder Island and for our visits to The Knoll and God’s Thumb there was no chance for privacy along the beach at Roads End. While it was busy it was a nice walk along the beach for almost a mile and a half to Roads End Point where continuing is only possible during low tides.
IMG_0836

IMG_0845

IMG_0849Coltsfoot

IMG_0852

IMG_0853An immature bald eagle flew overhead at one point.

IMG_0856

IMG_0863Little waterfall along the beach.

IMG_0866Roads End Point

IMG_0871Not going around that today.

We headed back saying one last goodbye to God’s Thumb and The Knoll before driving back home to Salem.
IMG_0878

IMG_0879God’s Thumb on the right.

IMG_0880Hikers on The Knoll

Our mileage for the day was right around ten with a mile coming at Alder Island, two and three quarters at Roads End and the remaining six and a quarter being The Knoll and God’s Thumb. There was 1420′ of elevation gain all of which was during the portion from Roads End to God’s Thumb and back. While we’ve had good weather for all three of our hikes thus far in 2021 this hike was the first to truly feel like Winter is coming to an end. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End

3 replies on “Alder Island, God’s Thumb & Roads End – 3/13/2021”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s