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Following a Raindrop to the Sea – Building New Trail for Oregon’s Youth

August 10, 2022

A view of the ocean from the knoll at Camp Westwind. A rainbow crosses the right side.

By Emily Akdedian

To the south of the jutting Cascade Headland and nestled against the Salmon River, Camp Westwind makes up part of the 102,110 acre Cascade Head Biosphere Reserve. Originally dedicated in 1976 by the United Nations (UNESCO), such reserves serve to attain quality education for all, mobilize knowledge for sustainable development, and build an inclusive knowledge society. 

It is the only biosphere reserve in Oregon and includes the majestic basalt headland, the entire Salmon River watershed and estuary, and a marine reserve with three surrounding marine protected areas. In service to the conservation value of this important ecosystem, the Westwind property provides a unique and defining opportunity for watershed education. Summer brings more than 1,200 campers to Westwind to experience the outdoors–close to twenty percent attend free or at a reduced cost. The spring and fall bring 1,500 students from districts around the state for multi-day outdoor school programs.

A map of the Raindrop to Sea Trail.

Westwind and TKO have partnered to build a new educational trail that will lead Westwind students from the high meadow ‘Knoll’ above God’s Thumb (where the weather is born), along a small-scale coastal rainforest watershed–traversing the percolating upper headwaters, the edge of Lost Lake and it’s remnant beaver dam, down the gorge and into a small estuary fan delta where the tributary meets the Salmon River along Westwind’s southern border. Learning circles along the trail will guide students through this journey to experience firsthand what happens to water as it passes from ‘Raindrop to Sea’. You can watch this Youtube series following a raindrop to the sea to get the virtual experience of this trail. 

Four people in hardhats talk on a trail in the forest.

In fitting compliment to the educational experience of this watershed trail, TKO volunteers have the opportunity to get involved in this project from the early stages, learning firsthand about sustainable trail design, construction, and how to reduce impacts to the environment while minimizing future maintenance. Come get involved in building an outdoor legacy for Oregon youth at Camp Westwind!

Please note: The Raindrop-to-Sea trail is not a public access trail, and you need to be a camper to hike the trails at the Westwind property. Trailkeepers of Oregon is supporting this project because outdoor school programs like Camp Westwind provide Oregon’s youth with access to important nature experiences and educational opportunities. These outdoor education facilities are very special, but their trail systems often lack the upkeep and care needed to serve our next generation of conservationists and stewards – that’s where TKO and you can step up. Funding for this project was provided by the Royal Little Family Foundation which has been an important supporter of the Westwind Stewardship Group.

Projects like these are only possible thanks to our generous supporters who donate their time and money to serve Oregon’s trails. This week (11/21-11/27), when you give a gift to support TKO’s work, you’ll also be entered to win some fantastic prizes! Check out our Legacy Builder’s campaign for full details.

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