Park at the trailhead at group picnic area A. Instead of heading uphill on wide, gravel trail, cross the road to the picnic shelter and find the trail heading downriver (west) above the crumbling banks. Immediately enter mossy, sun-dappled forest, with the Sandy River below on your right. A couple of steep side trails descend to a wide, sandy beach along the river. Follow the river approximately one mile, keeping right at all forks, until you come to trail post C at a restroom turnaround. Follow the road right (north) for 50 yards to trail post B on the opposite side, where you’ll make a U-turn and and head south.
The trail now undulates through ancient forest, sprinkled with bleeding heart and other wildflowers, and makes several creek crossings on rustic wood and earthen bridges. Keep right through two forks, then left at trail post E. Next, at trail post F, the path intersects a gravel road; turn right uphill to trail post G. Here you have the option of continuing a shorter 4-mile loop, or adding an additional 2 miles by heading up the road to the 2-mile loop around Elk Meadow. The meadow loop offers more forest, and occasional views down on the Sandy River, and extending east to Mt. Hood.
Continuing northeast from post G, the next forested mile passes the campground, then eventually comes to a T-junction. Turn left (north) to a secluded picnic shelter near the river at trail post K. Turn left (west), once again following the Sandy River downstream, keeping right through forks with trail posts L and M. The trail then diverts upland on a newish detour, above a section that has subsided down the riverbank. Use the campground road to continue a short ways, then pick up the riverside trail again just past the amphitheater. Cross the boat ramp, then reenter forest above the river for the last half-mile back to your starting point.
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo