I’m going to tell you about a hike that you have to take when you’re in the Portland, OR area. Saying that it’s not as well-known as the Forest Park hiking trail is an understatement. In fact, this easy 6.2 mile out and back hike is one that is only well-known among the residents of the Portland area.
The Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail on Sauvie Island takes you through a wildlife refuge, along a beach and ends at the smallest lighthouse in Oregon that is one of only two lighthouses in the state that aren’t on the Pacific Ocean. Access to Sauvie Island, the largest river island in the United States, is via the Sauvie Island Bridge on Highway 30.
You can find the trailhead at the end of Reeder road, but the locals usually start the hike on the beach. From there, hike North. On a clear day, you can see the tiny lighthouse that is your destination. After hiking about a half mile, the beach will end. At this point, look through the brush for a dirt access road. This is the trail. You will hike through a forest of cottonwood trees and through grassy meadows before reaching the Warrior Rock Lighthouse.
The lighthouse was built in 1889 to help guide traffic on the Columbia River past a bedrock reef. It’s now fully automated, but was once operated by keepers and housed the oldest fogbell in the Pacific Northwest. The bell now sits outside the Columbia County Historic Courthouse in St. Helens, OR.
If you’re a bird watcher, you will love this hike! Over 250 different bird species make their home on Sauvie Island. You might even get a glimpse of a bald eagle! Public access to some bird watching areas is limited during the nesting and hunting seasons from October 1 through April 30.
The grassy beach near Warrior Rock Lighthouse is perfect for a picnic and for wildlife watching. Rest, relax and enjoy watching the sea lions and birds before heading back to your car. As always, take only pictures and leave only footprints!
The trail is open year-round, but the best times to hike are from April through September. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail and a parking permit is required. You can purchase the permit at the store near the bridge to Sauvie Island. For more information about Sauvie Island and the trail, click here.