Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area

Years before “binge-watching” was added to dictionaries and Black Friday was such a wildly popular phenomenon, several hours of each Thanksgiving weekend in my youth were spent sitting directly in front of our 14-inch TV, my elbows resting on the small hand-caned footstool my dad built (decorated with a dart hole I inadvertently contributed during its construction). The goal: consume as many episodes of The Twilight Zone as my parents would allow.

So it’s no wonder that as I read,

“You’re standing above a wetland that is 14,000 years old.”

emblazoned on an interpretive sign positioned along the boardwalk at Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area, the words entered my head intoned in a melodramatic voice reminiscent of Rod Serling.

The sign text makes a bold, impactful statement, lending perspective to our place in nature, a small drop in the bucket of the history of this planet. The Twilight Zone was intended to be thought provoking, so perhaps hearing Mr. Serling’s voice was more fitting than its initial apparent oddity.


Even so, when reading the interpretive sign in person, you have not woken to an alternate reality or crossed over to another dimension. The only twists you’ll find are bends in the boardwalk navigating through the tranquil wetland between campground and waterfront. The marsh’s creatures are not airplane goblins, snout-nosed humans, or creepy talking dolls, but instead the antithesis of these macabre players: feathered songbirds, swimming newts, and long-billed herons among other peaceful beasts.

Despite the park’s eerie name, twilight, at Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area, is not a zone but simply a time of day.

Wetland trail

200+ Steps

Camping and lake activities are popular at Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area and many other Oregon state parks, but the nature trail through a wetland thousands of years in the making is unique.

The trail, partially boardwalk, meanders through lush, boggy greenery. To those patient and sharp-eyed, it is also teeming with wildlife.

Longer than most 100 Steps walks, about 550 steps in total, en route you pass several educational signs. In addition to triggering recall of disturbing 1960s TV episodes syndicated in the ‘80s, the signs’ content expanded my botanical vocabulary. I learned a fen is similar to a bog or marsh, and sedge refers to what in simplistic terms is called swamp grass.

At the trail’s end, you’ll find a gravel lot, three picnic tables, and a view of Devil’s Lake as it melds into the diminutive D River.

Terrain: Gravel and then boardwalk, all nearly flat and wide enough to walk side-by-side. More gravel when the boardwalk ends.
Seating: Three picnic tables at the end, but no seating along the way.
Fee: No fee
Restrooms: No
Directions: Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area is accessed from Highway 101 in Lincoln City. Parking for the wetland trail is just before pay booth. The trail start is marked on the right not far from the stop sign.

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