Hike Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,108 ft
Highest Point: 605 feet
For many reasons, we chose God's Thumb for our last hike along the coast. First, the name was 'click bait' for anyone who enjoys an adventurous hike. With a name like 'God's Thumb', who wouldn't be intrigued. I was hoping that Angel's Landing in Zion National Park and God's Thumb might share something in common. Secondly, it was just the right length since after the hike we faced a long drive to Crate Lake National Park in Southern Oregon.
WARNING: Parking at the trailhead is scarce and fiercely policed by local residents. Consider parking at Roads End State Park and walking up NE Sal La Sea Drive to the trailhead instead. We were lucky we followed the directions to the trailhead using AllTrails and found one of the few authorized parking spots at the end of NE Sal la Sea Drive. Just make sure to obey the signs on the road where parking is not allowed.
After parking close to the trailhead, we headed to the gate marking the start of the hike and followed the signs for ’The Knoll’. This old road bed was originally used by a local quarry.
After half a mile the trail split to the left and we followed the partially overgrown path to an opening called 'The Knoll'. This open space provides outstanding view of Lincoln City and beaches for as afar as the eye can see.
Even on a cloudy day there were great views of Devils Lake and the hills surrounding Lincoln City.
We returned to the main trail and we found ourselves entering this strangely lighted space portal.
Passing through the portal, we entered an old-growth forest.
We were surrounded by Sitka spruce. These trees grow in the cool, moist maritime climate from Northern California to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, seldom straying far from salt water environments.
These giants are the third-largest tree in the world after redwoods and Douglas-fir. They average 125-180 feet tall and three to five feet in diameter.
Moss covered almost every surface sometimes growing so thick it doubled the size of tree branches. Unlike English ivy, mosses and lichen aren’t parasitic and do no harm to trees except for the added weight they bring to covered surfaces.
MYTH: Moss has been used as a natural compass around the world, but beware! Moss could grow anywhere as long as there’s water, and that means not just the north side of surfaces. For instance, the direction of prevailing wind and rain can influence where moss grows. So don’t rely on it if you’re lost in the woods.
After half a mile the forest gave way to a grassy and tree covered hillside.
Thistle grew in bunches among the grass and ferns.
These meadows are environmentally fragile areas, so stick to the path and don't create any new trails across the grass. It wasn't long before we heard the sound of waves crashing on the beach.
The trail weaved in and out of short treed areas before narrowing and providing the first glimpse of God's Thumb.
This spectacular outcropping of basalt juts above the ocean like a gigantic thumbs-up.
To capture a sense of the scale, I've included this photo of a person standing by the tree on the summit...it's bigger than it appears in many of the blog photos.
I think there is where I am suppose to acknowledge that I might not have been totally transparent when I described the hike to Dave. This is the look of a man who is not thrilled with the path that lies in front of him
This part of the trail is highly exposed and eroded in some sections. To say, 'stay on the trail, be cautious, and aware of your footing' is stating the obvious.
There is no way of getting around it; there were steep drop offs or cliffs to either side. Slip to the right and you plunge straight down to a rock covered beach. Trip to the left and it would be a long way before you stopped tumbling. This trail may not be for everyone!
Here is a better view looking down from the summit that captured the steepness of the cliff face and how close the trail was to the edge. If it's raining or muddy you might want to think twice about continuing. People have had to be rescued from this part of the trail.
For some reason it didn't feel as bad when we were walking down from the summit. We were walking more confidently this time around. It might not meet the criteria of a 'knives edge' trail but it was just as fun.
After navigating the cliff walk, there was a brief but steep climb to the summit.
The views from the top made the heart-pumping section of trail all worth it. Great views to the south of Lincoln City and the endless miles of beach.
Dramatic cliffs led to secluded beaches with waves pounding the craggy coastline.
Sweeping coastal view to the north of Cascade Head.
I captured a few last pictures of Dave on the summit.
God’s Thumb was a Lincoln City secret for decades. The spread of online information combined with moves by the city to open the area has allowed many more people to experience one of the state's most beautiful spots.
Now it was time for us to continue our Oregon adventures inland with a trip to Crater Lake and Mount Hood.