ElevationAscent: 447' 136 m
Descent: -451' -137 m
High: 406' 124 m
Low: 92' 28 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“Explore the Sandy River and a variety of old growth, meadows, and sandbars all in one compact park.”— Karl W
Find the main trail along the raised bank of the river on the far side of the group picnic area if you parked along the road. The trail is flat and easy, made of either packed dirt, wood chips, or gavel fill in various sections. You'll have some nice views of the Wild and Scenic Sandy River along this first section, and should also take advantage of multiple paths that lead to the water's edge (or beaches depending on the season). This section of trail ends at the Boat Launch, so you'll have to run up the road a bit to reconnect with the trail at the amphitheater. The next section of the trail parallels the campsite road before going to the edge of a highly eroded section of river bank.
After the campground, the trail will drop down close to the river and become a fully mixed-use trail for biking, horses, and running. This section gets less use so it can feel very secluded aside from during peak season. Continue following the singletrack and checking out the river. You'll pass by the Group Camp 2 area and a narrow gravel road that leads to it (this is an option to shorten the loop). Continue along the river to the intersection marked "J." This side trail leads through some old growth to a secluded beach that is among the best.
Stay to the left on the way back to pass through the old forest on the inner trail, ignoring all the spurs to the various campgrounds. You'll hit the service road/trail that leads to the top of Alder Ridge, a flat plateau covered in meadows and old growth. The trail up is steep, and the only meaningful elevation change on the route. The top is super flat and an easy loop that is worth the time.
When you head back down you'll be right at the parking area, but it is worth it to head on a loop through the "Ancient Forest." So head south on the running-only trail at intersection "F." It will split at one point—consider taking the southern route because it has some huge downed trees to pass under, but they're otherwise the same. You'll then have two options to turn north at intersection "D," cross the road, and begin to head back. There is a clearing a few meters west from where the trail hits the river's edge that offers one more view of the river if you want.
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Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background