Distance: 0.8 miles | Difficulty: Parks Scare Me | Directions to Steam Donkey Trail: From Portland, take Highway 26 west for 45 miles to the Sunset Rest Area on the right. The trailhead and a sign with a map is toward the back of the rest area.
Most of the steam donkeys situated throughout Oregon’s timber country have long since left the forest. The steam-powered winches were critical components of logging operations in the late 1800s and early 1900s, helping men lift and drag massive wood trunks after they’d been felled. The very easy 0.8-mile combined interpretive loops of the Steam Donkey Trail provide a glimpse of that history, as well as a wonderful walk in the woods. And it’s all right behind a rest stop. Yep. A rest stop.
Starting at the trail map in the rear of the Sunset Rest Area, take a wide footbridge over the South Fork of Rock Creek to the first trail junction. This is where the lower Springboard Loop Trail begins. Make a right and follow the path through a peaceful forest comprising alder, Douglas fir and Western hemlock. Take note of the large stumps along the route; they’re a reminder of the logging that took place in that part of Clatsop County until the Wolf Creek Fire of 1933.
You’ll soon come to some interpretive signage and a junction with the Dooley Spur Trail. If you’re just in it for the lower loop, stay left here and follow the trail back down