My Special Place at Soapstone Lake

March 13, 2017 (Updated March 22, 2017)

There are times when I just want to get lost — detach, unplug, disappear. That feeling only intensifies as the cabin fever tightens its winter grip.

But where to go?

The most popular trails like Cape Falcon in Oswald West State Park and Saddle Mountain are often busy with hikers trying to devour any morsel of infrequent sunny weather.

I need a spot with a bit more anonymity, somewhere that requires some effort to find.

That is why I chose Soapstone Lake.

Located within the Clatsop State Forest on the meandering Highway 53, it requires some determination to reach.

I hadn’t hiked Soapstone Lake Trail for nearly a decade. The previous time, it took me almost half my day to find the unmarked trail, though I remembered that as part of its allure.

Now, years later, I was eager to return to this secluded trail in a lush coastal forest.

You can find a paved entrance on the northeast end of Highway 53, with a parking lot just under the highway that has enough space for perhaps five vehicles at the most.

The trail is immediately stunning, weaving through mossy trees and ferns, often within earshot of Soapstone Creek.

Stairs in a mossy forest

This pleasant hike is fairly easy — there isn’t much elevation change — and it has a nice, wide path with several shaded places to rest along the way.

In due time the trail expands onto a meadow that was once the site of a former homestead. (Today you can see the remnants, Lindgren Cabin, at Cullaby Lake County Park in Warrenton.)

The meadow is quiet and peaceful; the kind of place that makes me want to stay there forever listening to the breeze.

Or, at the very least, have a picnic.

View of Soapstone Creek through the grass

After the meadow, the trail meets a series of stairs leading to Soapstone Lake. Then the path narrows around the lake for roughly a half-mile on bumpier terrain, passing fallen logs and sun-streaked spots.

Noticeably, there are newts. And you’ll probably hear them before you see them near the lake shore.

Side note: as with many trails in Oregon, leashed dogs are welcome here, but be aware that they may get distracted by the newts.

Throughout the Soapstone Lake Trail are foot bridges, which I believe are strategically placed to protect flora.

After the lake, the trail reaches another set of stairs and a small clearing before looping back to the beginning.

In all, the trail is about 3 miles. Depending on your hiking skill level, it should take about 90 minutes to 2 hours — depending how long you want to stop and appreciate the beautiful surroundings.

I often debate whether or not to talk about this special place. Should I just let the truly dedicated hikers find it for themselves?

But simply to have treasured coastal trails is not enough. Sharing places like Soapstone Lake Trail is to give them the love they deserve.

Besides, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels the need to walk into the woods and disappear for a short while.


Footbridge on the Soapstone Lake Trail

About The

Dan Haag
Born and raised in the great white north of Minnesota, Dan Haag felt the pull of the North Oregon Coast in the early 1990's. After realizing rain never needed to be shoveled, he married an Oregon girl and settled in Manzanita, where he currently works as director of the Manzanita Visitor Center. He is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of state and national publications. He spends his free time wandering the area’s many trails, supporting the Oregon wine and beer industry, perusing coastal bookstores and chasing his black Labrador, Lilo, along the beach.