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About 30 minutes from downtown Portland, Sandy River Delta is a popular destination for dog owners, with trails for hiking, horseback riding, and biking.

This 1400 acre delta was purchased in 1991 by the USFS and changed from a cattle ranch to its current condition with ongoing efforts to restore the native habitat. For the most part, other than the native tree cover of cottonwood, ash, willow and red osier dogwood, the ground forbs and shrubbery here are a dense display of non-native, invasive weeds.

Our trail loop begins at the parking lot, near the accessible restrooms and picnic area. The picnic area has a steep lip that may prohibit access for some wheeled devices. There is a map on the trailhead bulletin board near the restrooms, where you can plan your hike. There are also trail markers at each trail junction in the area.

We began on the Confluence Trail. This wide, hard-packed, natural surface trail cuts through a field of reed canary grass from the trailhead to a channel of the Columbia River and the Maya Lin Bird Blind. Close by the bird blind is a steep path down to the rivermore like a beaver slide than a trail—but, it is not an official FS trail.

From there, when water levels are low, a "user trail" winds through the willow/red osier dogwood forest, along the river. Along the shoreline, you would get views across the channel of the Columbia River to Gary Island. But, after a brief attempt, due to the challenging access to this area, the AR team abandoned further exploration and returned to the upper trails, the official FS trails, which proved difficult enough.

From the Confluence Trail, turn right onto the Meadow Trail. The trail bends and weaves through meadow, tall mullein stalks and black cottonwood and Oregon ash trees. At times the trail narrows to 2 feet in width with short steep grades and loose sand. We determined the easiest and most diverse loop would be to turn right (northwest) at Sandy River Delta Trail/Meadow Trail, then continue to the original trailhead. This route is approximately 3 miles.

Dogs are required to be leashed within 100 feet of the Confluence Trail on either side. There is a $100 fine for dogs off leash in this area as well as in the parking lot.

Sandy River Delta is open from sunrise to sunset (day use only).

Sandy River Delta

US Forest Service


Name: Sandy River Delta

Entry fee: $5, as of 2021click here for more information

Parks agency: US Forest Service

Contact: Edan Lira: (541) 308-1727; Forest Service: (541) 308-1700

Location: Columbia River Freeway (I-84), exit 18, near Troutdale

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Public transit: none

Length: AR suggested loop = 3.0 miles

How difficult do we consider it: the designated accessible trail is relatively easy for most users; cross trails are hard sand that may be loose and muddy with short steep sections, shared with dogs, off-leash and horses

Date of last visit: September 8, 2021


The Maya Lin Bird Blind was constructed for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Confluence Project in 2008. The slats of black locust wood each carry the name of one of the 134 species of plants and animals that the two explorers recorded on their journey.

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