This Overgrown Boardwalk Trail in Oregon Leads to an Enormous Red Cedar Right Off the Beach

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Adventures, Beaches, Hiking

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There are few things in this world as awe-inspiring as standing beside a really old tree—like hundreds of years old. And, you may be surprised to know that one such majestic giant is walking distance from downtown Rockaway Beach! Right off Hwy 101, and about half a mile into the overgrown, boggy Rockaway Beach Old Growth Cedar Preserve, is a tree so big it would take more than eight people holding hands to get all the way around it!

This enormous western red cedar (commonly referred to as the “Rockaway Big Tree”) stands at 154 feet tall, is roughly 49 feet in circumference, and is covered in huge lumps of gnarled bark. Although this isn’t the tallest tree in our state, it is one of the biggest by mass and it’s impressive to say the least. Experts estimate it’s between 500 to 900 years old!

trailhead sign
Trailhead sign, Just keeping up with the Joneses Google Local

The other cool thing about this tree? It’s super easy to get to! There’s a universally accessible boardwalk trail (meaning even those in a wheelchair can enjoy it) that’s only 1.2 miles round trip that starts in the parking lot at the preserve. The trail is very family-friendly, even if you’re pushing a stroller, making this an incredible opportunity for the entire family to experience this wonder of nature. Once you make it to the tree, you can take the same trail straight back, or there's a short loop option that’s fun to take, but almost always muddy—you’ve been warned!

boardwalk
bend in walkway, QPhoto503 Google Local

This mammoth cedar certainly is reason enough to visit, but the entire area is gorgeous in its own right. Throughout your hike, you’ll be surrounded by Sitka spruce and other large (but not huge) red cedars, alder, hemlock, and plenty of skunk cabbage that lie within the 45.6 acre preserve. The whole area kinda feels like you’ve just stepped into a rainforest. And, it’s close enough to the beach that you can still feel the nice ocean breeze come through! 

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big tree
Big Tree sign, Ben Perkins Google Local

You can do this beautiful, short hike any time of the year, but the boardwalk will get slippery so watch your step if it’s been raining. There's a decently sized parking lot for the preserve right at the big welcome sign for Rockaway Beach on the 101 so you can’t miss it, and the trailhead and path is well marked so you won’t get lost. When you do go, remember the entire area is protected and its preservation depends on hikers staying on the path, so don’t wander off!

Address: 947 Hwy 101 So, Rockaway Beach, OR 97136


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Written By Diana Flowers

Diana is a writer living in Portland with her delightful son and crotchety cat. Growing up in the area, family vacations were often to nearby destinations reachable by car. She has since expanded that love of local road trips and has been all over the great state of Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest, frequently pairing backpacking trips with exploring new towns and regions.

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