Friday, May 11, 2012

Cedar Butte

Cedar Butte

Cedar Butte is a short steep hike that is more about the adventure of getting there than about the actual time on the trail. This is you chance to do some relatively safe exploring of the Tillamook Forest lumbering roads and perhaps learn a bit about the history of lumbering and its affects on Nature and Oregon.

So, first some standard safety equipment. We are going to be traveling on dirt and gravel roads, some with pretty significant potholes and ruts. You don't necessarily need an Off Road capable vehicle, but you probably don't want a standard family sedan either. I would say that a Subaru Forester is fine (hey, that is what I drive) but a Prius probably is a little iffy. This is a road clearance thang. You also should have a compass and a good map. You can't trust you cell phone, you won't have a signal for much of this drive.

I think the right thing to do is to stop at the Tillamook Forestry Center. It is on the way from Portland to the Trail Head along route 8 anyway.
Tillamook Forestry Center. Check it out.

Stop in and walk around. Go up into the fire watch tower (that is so cool). If you have time, watch the 15 minute movie on the Tillamook burn. Walk out back and enjoy the views of the Wilson river, perhaps stroll a little way down the side trails. Hmmm, perhaps we shall come back and do some Wilson Trail hiking on another day.
Above all, take in the fact that this really expensive center was built with private lumbering money, presumably for the purpose of making clear cutting more romantic. I don't remember seeing any pictures of clear cuts and actual lumbering when I walked through there. Not sure why. Don't worry, we will see plenty on our little drive.
While we are here, stop in the gift store and get a map. You could make do with the free little handout they give for Cedar Butte, but if you really want some fun, get the $10 large map. That will let us explore more.

Now we get in our car and head down route 8 a few more miles toward the shore. Be looking for the signs for Cedar Butte road. It is well marked but it is a very hard right hand turn onto the old road. Cross the bridge over the Wilson and now we are on a dirt road.
This road isn't very wide and you will be tempted to drive in the center (in the ruts). There are many blind curves and with all of the people who surely must read this blog, there are going to be a lot of cars coming and going. There could also be very large lumber trucks. So driver so around curves and watch yourself.

We have a 5.7 mile drive and since we are going slow, it will take a while. I encourage you to stop often and look around. Evidence of a LOT of historic lumbering. You can see all of the cleared areas and try to guess how long ago various sections were cut.
Stay on the main road. Pay attention to little marker signs at major intersections. It was pretty easy to follow the "Cedar Butte" signs. Eventually you will come to an opening with a sign marking a place to park cars for the Trail Head.

What a beautiful view of the Clear Cut !! Off to the East we can see Kings Mountain. No snow on it. So what did I see from Saddle the other day? Ahead of us we can see some rock that is this side of Cedar Butte. We are going higher up than that.
The trail head is off to the left about 100 yards away. A little hard to find, look for the wood sign post. The first part of the trail winds through a old clear cut. Not sure why they took these trees down, they were not very big.

Then we get into the forest. The trail is going up up up. This is a very steep, but very short trail. 3/4 a mile. I did it in around 40 minutes (1 way).
This forest has sticks and branches all over the ground. It looks like a forest fire nightmare in the making. And the trees are not very old. Perhaps 20-30 years?
Here is my thought, these trees are young, growing quickly, and very crowded together. They are making a lot of branches as their lower ones die and fall off. So you get this forest floor that is filled with their debris instead of the healthy fern and sallel that you will see in a more mature forest (and further up the hill).

Keep going up. You will quickly hit the crest of the hill and follow that a ways to the summit. There is a nice place for a couple of tents in the cover of the trees at the top. No water, of course.
The Butte itself is a big rock with a nice view to the West. There are a couple of benches up there to sit on. I was lucky enough to be up there a couple of years ago when a Scout troop was putting these benches in for an Eagle Scout project. Thanks Guys !!
If you have a sunny day, sit and rest awhile. Take in the view. A little later in the summer there will be a nice selection of wild flowers. Today I only had Glacier Lily.

poor lonely glacier Lily

From the Butte. Looking West to the Sea

So, we go back down. Now, want a little more adventure and learning? Let's drive back to the main road along an alternate route. You really need the good map for this, by the way.
A Warning: At this time there is active lumbering going on on this route. Among other things, this means there are some new roads that are not on the map. Don't take those.

Go ahead down the road that the trail is beside. This takes you around to the west side of Cedar Butte. Eventually you will come to some real logging equipment. When I was there  there was a drag line and crane for pulling logs out of the valley and one of those cool log trimmer robots at the top. It was a Thursday afternoon around 5:00 and there was no one there. Not sure when loggers work. Down the road blocked by the crane is an old piece of equipment that I have visited before. We were going to go there. It is an old water tank. Probably for a steam donkey. You can see it on Google Earth :).
Back in the car. Follow the map, we are taking the Cedar Creek road back to the road behind the Forestry Center. Once you get past the lumbering, this turns out to be a much better road that the other way. Lots of designated camping sites and such down by the river. This may be a fun place to come back to some weekend. Set up a base camp and do some hiking in the area.
Could be loud in the summer, this is OHV and dirt bike territory.

Some active logging around the corner.


  1. Sounds like an interesting place to take my ATV and look at the logging equipment (on a weekend so they aren't working)

    1. Wow, Harry, you left this comment years ago, And I missed it. Because I always try to say: Hey, Thanks for leaving a comment !!