Oregon’s north coast draws countless visitors from near and far seeking unique experiences, many of them hitting the trails for a hike they’ll never forget. From Astoria to Pacific City, Trailkeepers of Oregon volunteer trail crews play a…
When you picture the Oregon coast, visions of the Pacific Ocean meeting rocky shores likely come to mind. What you may not see are the folks working behind the scenes to ensure places like this remain accessible, enjoyable, and even educational! Along with our partners, Trailkeepers of Oregon has been working throughout 2023 to do just that.
Hiking trails are a very popular way to explore the unique and varied beauty of the Oregon coast. They also tell stories, winding through ecosystems and offering lessons to those open to learning. One such trail at Camp Westwind, aptly named the “Raindrop to Sea” Trail, takes summer camp and Outdoor School students on the journey of a raindrop through the watershed on its way to the ocean. TKO volunteers broke ground on this educational trail in July of 2022 and saw it through every stage of the process from scouting potential routes to finishing tread touches. TKO North Coast Stewardship Coordinator Carl, who lead the charge on the project, reflects as the tread was completed in late October of 2023: “The soil felt like cutting through a pile of rich compost, with abundant mushrooms, salamanders, slugs, and massive old ferns, but this is not to say the trail was an easy one to build. Steep cross slopes, huge tree roots, and massive fern root balls created complications as work progressed, and we adapted to work with the forest. As construction on phase 1 comes to a close, I’m endlessly thankful to all the volunteers who joined me for even just one day of work. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve immensely enjoyed getting to play in the dirt and gaze out at the sea arch at the end of the day with all of you. We’ll see you next year for phase 2!” Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, this trail will allow Outdoor School students to connect to the land, encouraging a lifetime of stewardship of Oregon’s natural places.
Some folks may be seeking a longer adventure – in which case, the Oregon Coast Trail offers 425 miles through beaches and public lands when hiked in its entirety – with a few caveats. About 10% of the route is on the shoulders of U.S. Hwy 101, and can be disconnected, unsafe, and even inaccessible in certain seasons. This is where TKO comes in. Coming in from access points including Boiler Bay and Rocky Creek, TKO volunteers worked to enhance these sections by improving trail tread, clearing overgrown vegetation, and removing obstacles. Some lucky volunteers even made a vacation of their service, camping for free with TKO at the beautiful Beverly Beach State Park. Although connecting the entire OCT will take several years, great progress is being made on this iconic long distance trail!
And somehow, on top of all this amazing work, volunteers from coastal communities also showed up for smaller trails across the region as well. Trail party events made improvements on the Amanda’s Trail, the Alder Dune Trail, the Saint Perpetua Trail, and more. TKO Central Coast Stewardship Coordinator Noelle W., says “It has been a privilege to lead volunteers on trail parties throughout the Siuslaw National Forest! I am new to the region and TKO and it has been incredible to witness the community that shows up to take care of their public lands.”
Caring for this large and varied set of trails requires a lot of time and effort, and we can’t do it without you. TKO relies on funds raised through donations from people just like you to maintain and expand our efforts to include more of your favorite coastal trails. Donate to our Legacy Builders fundraising campaign and show your love for Oregon’s coastal trails!
TKO would like to thank Oregon State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Travel Oregon, and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association for their support of TKO’s service in stewarding Oregon’s trails.