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Devil's Staircase

OPB | Nov. 19, 2009 12:30 p.m.

There’s a place in the coast range so steep, rugged and disorienting that trails don’t go there. Many have trekked in and spent unplanned nights among the ancient trees trying to get out. That place is The Devil’s Staircase, a 30,000 acre area that redefines off-trail adventure. The reward for making it to the heart of this ancient forest, a chance to lay eyes on a rarely visited waterfall and swimming hole along wild, crystal clear Wassen Creek.

First Broadcast: 2009
Producer: Ed Jahn
Videographer/Editor: Michael Bendixen
Production Assistance: Jacob Holcombe
Special Thanks: Ross Bondurant (pilot)

A NOTE FOR OUR VIEWERS: Yes, we understand that we’ve just aired a story that makes The Devil’s staircase seem irresistible. Maybe you’ve decided you’d like to see it for yourself. So why won’t we tell you how to get there? In a word, ‘safety’. It’s hard to capture how disorienting this landscape is, even for the coast range. And GPS units absolutely do not work. Many experienced hikers have found themselves lost for days in the Devil’s staircase, and Search and Rescue teams are being called out frequently. From our own experience we can tell you that without a guide hikers could very well end up in trouble here, and we don’t want to be responsible for that. While there are no official guides or tours in the area, the advocacy group, Cascadia Wildlands, does occasionally lead trips for the EXTREMELY fit and prepared hiker.
More Information
Cascadia Wildlands
  • Please be aware that Oregon Field Guide and OPB do not endorse the positions of Cascadia Wildlands, a non-profit group that is actively campaigning for preservation of The Devil’s staircase as an official wilderness area.
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Major Support Provided By:

  • Dorothy D. Gage and Dan Stanton
  • Fred and Clara Dolen Charitable Foundation

Additional Support Provided By:

  • Kay Kitagawa and Andy Johnson-Laird
  • Christine and David Vernier
  • Coit Family Foundation
  • Beth Torry Miller Trust
  • Greenfield/Hartline Habitat Conservation Fund of the Nature Conservancy
  • The Roundhouse Foundation
  • Bonnie and Peter Reagan