The trails presented on this website are a continuation of the trail selections first compiled by Jim Thayer and published in the trail guidebook, Portland Forest Hikes, published by Timber press in the Spring of 2008. Many of you may be familiar with a companion website located at “www.thayers.org”- a site mostly dedicated to chronicling the exploration and documentation of a vast web of logging roads and trails extending from Portland’s Forest Park – all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Beginning in mid-2010 the 100 pages of trail descriptions published on the “thayers.org” site will slowly be replicated and republished on this “Foresthiker.com” site. The purpose of this move is not merely to consume all my spare time, but also to allow for a more technically adept delivery of materials to the hiking community – such as allowing interactive capabilities, “smarter” search capabilities and the ability to download “.gpx” files for each of the trails. This new website has been built up using WordPress, an advanced content management platform that allows me, an amateur netizen, to support a wider array of functions that I could not otherwise design or support.
I hope that Foresthiker.com will soon become your destination of choice when inclement weather or busy schedules prevent you from being out in the woods!
The “thayers.org” website originally featured a collection of 20 trails that resulted from my exploration of what has been referred to as the “wildlife corridor” that sustains the continuing bio-diversity of Forest Park. Starting from the northern end of Forest Park I alternately rambled and bushwhacked my way north along the eastern flank of the Tualatin Range nearly all the way to Scappoose. That effort resulted in the discovery of 10 new trails that I explored and described in Portland Forest Hikes.
Once having crossed Rocky Point Road (just south of Scappoose) , I realized that ahead of me lay miles of untrammeled forest lands. In short, I had arrived at the end of the “wildlife corridor” and from here on I was looking at the vast expanse of Oregon’s North Coast forests. Rocky Point road effectively marked the northern end of the “wildlife corridor” and the northern boundary of the 20 trails collected in Portland Forest Hikes. Only one trail extends north of Rocky Point Road, and that’s the Joy Creek Loop located near the bottom of the road. Otherwise, this Rocky Point Road which also marks the northern end of Skyline Boulevard, marked the completion of my initial project.
But by this time, I was hooked on exploring these vast forests and I wanted to follow the forests to wherever they led. I needed a new excuse for my ramblings…That’s when I recalled the “Pacific Greenway” project that Keith Hay had proposed to the Friends of Forest Park. During the waning years of the 1980’s Keith proposed emulating the “Mountains to Sound” project that had succeeded in linking Seattle’s hinterlands to the coast. This gigantic effort had involved the establishment of a corridor of donated lands, easements and trails linking the slopes of the Cascades to the pristine beauty of Puget Sound. Keith had even secured funding from the Nature Conservancy to scope the magnitude of a proposed network of trails linking Portland and the Oregon Coast.
The Pacific Greenway organization is still listed in the National Environmental Directory as being headed up by Keith Hay. It is described as, “a far-sighted effort to create and preserve one or more important natural and recreational corridors between the Pacific Coast and the Portland Metropolitan region. Only motorized routes to the coast presently exist. The extension of Portland’s present open-space system to the Pacific, east to Mount Hood and the Pacific Crest Trail, and south along the Willamette Greenway, is a goal of the Greenway project. What resulted from Keith’s original scoping study was a plan for three trails to connect Portland to the coast, much like the trails linking Seattle’s hinterlands to the coast. The scoping project produced a map showing three possible routes to the coast. The first “Pacific Greenway” trail linked the Portland area to the coast via the aquatic route along the Lower Columbia – the route that Lewis and Clark took. Keith eventually described this route in his book “Columbia River Water Trail”, also published by Timber Press. The picture attached provides a glimpse of the Clatsop villages what the water route would have come across.
The final two routes were shown as heading westward from the northern end of Forest Park, along the hills flanking the northern boundary of Washington County. The northern route was depicted as heading north from Forest Park. The southern route was indicated as crossing US 26 west of Banks and heading towards either the Wilson River, or Salmonberry corridors. These two putative routes are reflected in Metro’s planning maps for regional trails.
In 2005 when I completed my initial hiking guide, Portland Forest Hikes I adopted an ambitious new goal: to walk the entire length of the two land routes to the coast. I started with the northern leg that curves around the top of Washington County, then parallels US 26, passing near Saddle Mountain and descends north of Seaside. But on the southern route, I decided to use the now abandoned Tillamook Railroad line that parallels the beautiful Salmonberry river. The Salmonberry corridor lies closer to the main stem of the westbound trail and it has no motorized traffic to mar the beauty of the passage. This route crosses US 26 and cuts through the hills to Cochran Pond which marks the headwaters of the Salmonberry. It follows the treacherous route of the old railroad over the next 18 miles of river to where the Salmonberry joins the lower Nehalem River before it spills into Nehalem Bay, just north of Tillamook.
In most cases, except along the Salmonberry, I sought the routes that went along the height of land, and wherever possible I choose roads that had little or no traffic, only using paved roads when passing through populated areas. The trails in this 2nd collection of forest hikes has been surveyed over the last five years, and represents a publicly accessible route using logging roads and trails that traverse the hills and mountains of Columbia, Washington, Tillamook and Clatsop Counties between Portland and the Pacific Ocean.
As in the previous trails described in Portland Forest Hikes, these trial descriptions include details instructions on the trail including my own maps, frequent color photos, and a comprehensive coverage of the fauna, flora and history of the area.