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Oregon Coast Trail Updates

100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range, 4th Edition (c)2018, 2016.  (Next reprint with updates, April 2020)

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-- #4 Astoria -- If you choose to drive up to the Astor Column, note that parking is now $5/car/year. 

-- #10 Tillamook Head -- Overnight parking is no longer allowed in Ecola State Park, so the camp shelters on Tillamook Head are for Oregon Coast Trail backpackers only. Firewood gathering is not allowed, but backpackers can buy campfire wood at the site. 
Even Lewis & Clark noted that landslides are a problem on this headland. A slide in 2017 has closed the 1.5-mile section of Oregon Coast Trail between the popular Ecola Point Picnic Area and the Indian Beach Picnic Area. It is possible for adventurers to scramble through, but not safe and not officially allowed. Construction of a new trail, higher up from the unstable cliffs, is scheduled to begin early in the summer of 2019, and may be completed by fall. In the meantime, Oregon Coast Trail hikers have to walk the road 1.5 miles, which is narrow and dangerous too. A different landslide in 2016 hit the Oregon Coast Trail about 1.5 miles south of Seaside (2.8 miles north of Tillamook's head tip). Fortunately, hikers have beaten out a detour path above this slide. Also, the viewing platform at the Ecola picnic area was destroyed by a landslide in November 2015, but a new platform has been opened nearby.

-- #13 Salmonberry Railroad -- "No Trespassing" signs posted at the trailhead on Lower Nehalem Road in early 2017 have closed this hike. Negotiations are ongoing with the railroad's owner, the Port of Tillamook Bay. The signs are partly a reaction to an incident where a dog fell through a hole in a trestle and died. The POTB fears liability, but "has limited ability to enforce" its signs, so locals still use the route. Until the signs are removed, do not follow that example.

A landslide in 2018 covered the railroad grade at the 1.3-mile mark, between Buick Creek and the Third Bridge. A crude trail has been opened across the slide, but it is slick when wet.

The Port of Tillamook Bay wants a consortioum of private nonprofits and public entities to raise $20 million to buy this rail line and develop it as part of the Rails-To-Trails program. By allowing hikers on the relatively safe, maintained lower 4.8 miles of the route (as described in the book), positive publicity has helped raise $2 million in donations to date. It makes sense for the POTB to ban adventurers from other, dangerous, remote portions of the rail line until they can be improved. But it does not make sense for the POTB to deny hikers the chance to see this relatively safe, maintained portion and get enthused about the entire project.

-- #14 Angora Peak -- At the 2.9-mile mark, when you have passed the cliff viewpoint by half a mile, you won't find an orange cairn. Instead, just 150 feet before the grassy roadbed ends, blue ribbon now marks the deer trail up to the right. Of course the ribbon may also be gone when you get there, but the trail is now more obvious, although it has some small briar vines. After 0.2 mile you will reach the open, grassy saddle. Then turn left on an old roadbed. But be warned that, after just 30 feet, blue flagging now marks a rough, brushy 1-mile route to the left that contours around the hill to a different viewpoint saddle. Ignore this detour and continue up the old roadbed to the right, climbing 0.1 mile to the 4-way junction. The dilapidated rock shelter is still to the left. To the right, the viewpoint is still there, but the board bench has collapsed.

-- #21 Cape Meares -- The landslide continues to shift and erode. If you are hiking from the beach at the town of Cape Meares up toward the cape itself, be aware that the bank is constantly eroding. The rope that helped hikers clamber up this embankment from the beach vanished in early 2017 when more of the bank crumbled. In July 2017  new rope was put on an easier scramble route up from the beach, just 15 feet beyond the creek (instead of 100 feet beyond the creek). To make a loop, some hikers are returning on the closed portion of the paved Three Capes Loop Road. This is allowed, but is very long.

-- #23 NEW TRAIL -- Connecting with the Banks-Vernonia Trail, the 22-mile Crown Zellerbach Trail opened to hikers, bikers, and equestrians in 2018. The route follows an old railroad grade from Knott Street in Vernonia (less than a mile from the terminus of the Banks-Vernonia Trail) over a 1200-foot pass and down through Scappoose to Dike Road at the Multnomah Landing on the Multnomah Channel of the Columbia River. Parts of the new 22-mile trail parallel the paved Scappoose-Vernonia Road. Trailheads with parking are spaced at 3- to 5-mile intervals. An online map of the new route is scheduled to be posted in June 2019.

-- #28 Miller Woods -- A new numbering system has been added to the trail marker posts, so the recommended hike now starts at post #1, and continues to post #14, 13, 12, and so on back to 1. The recommended loop trail around the preserve's perimeter also has two new switchbacks, increasing the loop mileage by 0.2 mile.

-- #31 Whalen Island -- Just a mile southwest of Whalen Island, the new 357-acre Sitka Sedge State Natural Area was purchased by the state in 2014. Once threatened by development as a private golf course, the property includes a mile of ocean beach, dunes, coastal forest, the south sand spit at the mouth of Sand Lake, and a large estuary crossed by a dike. Drive the paved Sand Lake Road (aka Three Capes Loop) south of Whalen Island 1 mile or north of Pacific City 4 miles. A parking area and official trailhead opened in 2018, and 5 miles of trails are hikable.
If you have the 2018 printing of the book, you will find a few short trails have since been built, making a better 2.8-mile loop possible. From the parking loop, follow the graveled dike trail 0.6 mile to the first of a series of forks. To reach the beach, fork first to the left, then again to the left, then to the right, and then to the left. (Left-left-right-left, got it?) When walking along the beach around the tip of Sand Lake's sand spit, be sure to stay on the wet sand near the waves, because the dry sand is closed March 15 to November 15 for snowy plover nesting. For the loop, leave the bayshore at a big signpost and follow a trail inland through the woods -- but after just 0.2 mile you'll reach a fork that is not on the map. Veer left on a new trail that takes you through the woods and past a bayside viewpoint to complete your loop at the dike.

-- #36 Harts Cove -- The bridge is washed out at Chitwood Creek, at the 1.3-mile mark of the hike, so you might get wet feet when crossing it in winter.

-- #37 Cascade Head -- The 2.4-mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail (here known as the Cascade Head Inland Trail) between Hwy 101 near Neskowin and Road 1861 was abandoned after a windstorm in about 2012, but volunteers began work clearing and reconstructing the trail in 2019, so it may reopen by 2020.
  
-- #44 Valley of the Giants -- This hike is now open only from December 1 to about August 1. The access road to this hike will be closed from the start of state-declared fire season (about August 1) to December 1 each year, beginning in 2017, unless you buy a $250 recreation access permit from the owner of the private timber road, Weyerhaeuser, at www.weyerhaeuser.com/timberlands/recreational-access.
     As of 2018, a slightly shorter driving route may be open. The route described in the book still works fine, but when you've drive 14.9 miles from Falls City, the "Keep Out" sign at the entrance to the old Valsetz townsite may be gone, and the gate into the townsite may be open, allowing you to drive around the shorter, right-hand side of the drained lake. Apparently this route, which is about 1 mile shorter, is now the preferred haul route for log trucks.

-- #46 Peavy Arboretum -- a new trail off of the Powderhouse Trail was under construction in the spring of 2018, which could eventually make longer hikes possible here.

-- #52 Brian Booth Park -- The "Winter Trailhead" access to the trails system off S. Beaver Creek Road reopened in August 2017 after state park officials resolved an easement issue with a neighbor.

-- #55 Yachats & Amanda Trail -- The recommended parking area for the Amanda Trail hike is on Yachats Ocean Road (not Yachats Ocean Drive). After hiking alongside Highway 101 for 0.2 mile, cross the highway at a sign for "Windy Wy" (not "Carpenter Drive") to find the Amanda Trail. A flood in early 2016 washed out the footbridge beside the Amanda statue, and swept away the concrete statue itself. The footbridge has been replaced, with a pivot so that it is less likely to be swept away. The original Amanda statue is truly lost, but it turns out that the artist had actually made three versions of the statue. The two surviving statues were owned by a pair of sisters in Waldport. They agreed to provide one for the trail, so Amanda is now back in place, in a slightly higher, less flood-prone location with enough space around her for ceremonies and small events.

-- #58 Heceta Head -- Tours of the lighthouse no longer go up the tower to see the lens. To see the lens at eye level, hike 300 feet up the adjacent northbound section of the Oregon Coast Trail to the second switchback.  

-- #59 Baker Beach -- A NW Forest Pass or other permit is now required at this trailhead.

-- #63 Kentucky Falls -- Both of the bridges over the North Fork Smith River at the lower end of the trail have been rebuilt, and the entire North Fork Smith Trail has been cleared and reopened. 

-- #65 Siuslaw Ridge Trails -- The "River Viewpoint" on the Old Growth Ridge Trail at Whittaker Creek is now so overgrown that it no longer has much of a view.

-- #70 & 71 -- Tahkenitch Creek and Dunes -- Dogs are now banned (even on leash) near the beach due to endangered snowy plover nests. A NW Forest Pass or other permit is required for parking, and cannot be purchased at the trailhead. The nearest vendor is at Tahkenitch Landing, a mile or so away.

#71 Tahkenithc Dunes -- A new cutoff trail has been signed through the dunes beside the forest from the north edge of Threemile Lake to a junction near the mouth of Tahkenitch Creek. The new "Tahkenitch Dunes Trail" is 1.0 mile long, but doesn't change the loop described in the book because most people will want to walk along the ocean beach for this mile rather than slog through the sand.

-- #75 Golden & Silver Falls -- The road to this park was reopened in early 2017, so you no longer need to walk 1.4 miles to the picnic area where the waterfall trails begin. You can drive there.

-- #81 Humbug Mountain -- In 2018 this trail was blocked by blowdown logs and the vegetation had grown up so there were no ocean views at all. Unless the trail is better maintained, the hike cannot be recommended.

-- #82 Sisters Rocks -- The trailhead on Hwy 101 is now completely unmarked, and the old road at the "parking area" is blocked by boulders. Park at the boulders and walk the old roadbed to Sisters Rocks.

-- #93 Vulcan Lake -- The Chetco Bar Fire of 2017 burned over the access road, the trailheads, and some of the area for the hikes here, including 2 miles of the Johnson Butte Trail between the Gardner Mine junction and Dry Butte. On the other hand, Salamander Lake, Vulcan Lake, and most of the Vulcan Peak Trail are not in the burn area. The trails are expected to reopen in the summer of 2018.

-- #94 Japanese Bombing Site -- The Chetco Bar Fire of 2017 burned around this area, but firefighters were able to prevent the fire from burning the route of the trail or the redwood seedling in the bomb crater.

-- #97 Damnation Creek -- The big footbridge just before the beach at the end of this hike has rotted so much that it has been closed. In early 2016 a sign was posted where the Damnation Creek Trail crosses the Coastal Trail warning that the lower part of this trail is closed. That is not quite true; the trail itself is fine, and it's not hard to scramble across the creek with the missing bridge to reach the beach.

-- #131 Fivemile Point -- The trail from the beach up to a viewpoint bench is so badly eroded that it is all but unfindable. Unless you're into scrambling and route-finding, just walk the beach as the book's text suggests.

-- #139 Windy Valley -- The Chetco Bar Fire of 2017 burned the lower trailhead on Road 1376 and the first 3 miles of the trail up to Snow Camp Mountain, but spared Windy Valley itself and the entire summit of the mountain, including the rebuilt lookout.

-- #140 Chetco Gorge -- This area burned in the Chetco Bar Fire of 2017.
-- #141 Tincup Trail -- This area burned in the Chetco Bar Fire of 2017.
-- #142 Upper Chetco River -- This area burned in the Chetco Bar Fire of 2017.

-- #144 South Fork Chetco River. The first 1.5 miles of this hike did not burn in 2017, but the rest did.

100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range, 3rd Edition (c)2014. (All of these updates have been included in the book's Fourth Edition)

-- #3 North Head -- The Westwind Trail from Beards Hollow to North Head has been abandoned, in part because the big trees there provide habitat for the endangered marbled murrelet, a sea bird. Signs have been removed, and the route is unmaintained, but adventurers are still allowed to hike the route. A paved bike path now parallels the highway, connecting the Beards Hollow Road entrance with the North Head Lighthouse Road entrance.

-- #15 Banks-Vernonia Railroad -- The entire 20-mile trail from Banks to Vernonia is now paved.

-- Tilliamook -- The Tillamook Air Museum remains open, but the private WW II aircraft have been moved to a museum in Madras because the dry climate there will preserve them better.

-- #21 Cape Meares -- A large, slow, ongoing landslide has closed the Three Capes Loop Road between the Cape Meares lighthouse road and the village of Cape Meares, perhaps indefinitely. To visit the Cape Meares lighthouse, you must now drive southwest from Tillamook to Oceanside, and then continue north to road's end at the lighthouse junction. If you are hiking the Oregon Coast Trail from the village of Cape Meares to the lighthouse area, be aware that the 5th Street trailhead in the town of Cape Meares is closed, and the landslide has left a jumble of trees and brush across the trail ahead. Instead, hike the low-tide route. This is still open because it skirts the south side of the slide.

Meanwhile, Big Spruce is now the largest known Sitka spruce in Oregon, so a new parking area and sign have been put at the entrance to the Cape Meares lighthouse road. A sign says the tree is 144 feet tall and between 750 and 800 years old. 

-- #23 Kings Mountain -- The Kings Mountain Trailhead is at elevation 700 feet, not 450 feet, so the hike's total elevation gain is 250 less than indicated in the info block.

-- #27 Pacific City -- The return loop along Nestucca Bay is now so faint that it is for explorers only. It is still more interesting than following the horse trail through the middle of the peninsula, but expect some exploration if you try the route along Nestucca Bay.

-- #33 Baskett Slough -- Jogging is now banned on the trails here because it disturbs the birds.

-- #34 Valley of the Giants -- The driving route from Falls City to the trailhead includes two gates that are closed and locked at 5pm, so don't stay late! During fire season in late summer, the gates are always locked. 

-- #36 Drift Creek Falls -- A rockslide has made the waterfall itself a little less spectacular. When you set out from the trailhead, be sure to keep right at all junctions for the first mile.

-- #45 Marys Peak -- The entire summit area is closed October-December 2015 due to logging of invasive trees in summit meadows.

-- #47 Peavy Arboretum -- Running and jogging are no longer banned on arboretum trails.

-- #48 Finley Wildlife Refuge -- Jogging is now banned on the trails here because it disturbs the birds.

-- #49 Alsea Falls -- If you're coming from the north via the town of Alsea, the turnoff is now marked as the "Alsea-Deadwood Highway", and the route to the falls is entirely paved.

-- #50 Yachats & Amanda Trail -- A  1.1-mile loop opened in June 2013, providing a scenic detour near Smelt Sands Wayside on the opposite side of Highway 101. The new path is named the Ya'Xaik Trail (say YA-hike), using the Alsea tribal name for Yachats. Opposite the Fireside Motel, turn east on Diversity Drive, and park at the street's end. The trail climbs a wooded hill into the Siuslaw National Forest and then descends north to connect with a public path in the private Gerdemann Botanic Preserve (no dogs allowed), along a creek with shore pines and rhododendrons, to a collection of art galleries at Highway 101, north of the Diversity Drive trailhead 0.2 mile.

-- #56 Cape Mountain -- The drive to the Dry Lake Trailhead is 1 mile farther than described. From Highway 101, drive 1.1 miles on pavement and an additional 1.7 mile of one-lane gravel to the trailhead.

-- #57 Pawn & Pioneer Trails -- The Pawn Old Growth Trail is signed as closed due to a slide and a bridge washout, but the landslide is easy to cross and it's not hard to hop the bridgeless creek along the route. The Mapleton Hill Pioneer Trail may be somewhat overgrown with salmonberry brush, but it is hikable if you wear long pants.

-- #60 Kentucky Falls -- The upper part of this trail is fine. If you start at the lower trailhead on Road 23, however, note that the footbridge at the 1.5-mile mark is gone. You can cross the river OK in summer and fall, but it's tricky in the high water of winter. The next 1.5 miles of trail is so overgrown that it's almost unfindable. The 3-mile bridge is fine, although the trail is so overgrown that the bridge can be hard to access. The trail becomes easier to follow and less brushy upstream from there.

-- #61 Cape Mountain -- the name Tahautiita 'clover/grassy' (from the Siuslaw-Lower Umpqua word tsahauya, grass) was actually given to a ridge northeast of Cape Mountain.  Cape Mountain itself was known as Huwiina (hoo-wee-nah) meaning 'a high dark place'.  Heceta Head is ɫtuuwis. (Patty Phillips <miluk.language@gmail.com>)

-- #67 Tahkenitch Dunes -- Dogs must be on leash on the beach and kite-flying is banned to protect nesting birds.

-- #72 Fivemile Point -- The trail from the beach up to a viewpoint bench is so badly eroded that it is all but unfindable. Unless you're into scrambling and route-finding, just walk the beach.

-- #75 Bandon Islands -- A new blufftop trail from Coquille Point to Bandon's Old Town makes it possible to hike the suggested loops without walking so much along city streets. If you're hiking  the longest loop to the Devils Kitchen, note that the creek there has changed course, so you don't have to cross it at all.

-- #76 New River -- The gate at the Learning Center has been moved 0.3 mile closer to the river, so it is now possible to drive year-round to within 0.2 mile of the New River boat ramp.

-- #81 Sisters Rocks -- The State Parks bulldozed a new parking lot in October 2015, so this previously unmarked trailhead on Highway 101 will be easier to find.

-- #86 Lower Rogue River -- This trail downriver from Agness was being maintained by the Northwest Youth Corps in July 2015, and is expected to reopen when they are done, although washouts and slippery tread may remain, so hikers would need to use caution.

-- #92 Vulcan Lake -- When you turn right on Road 1909 for 13.4 miles, the book says to "keep right when in doubt", but some people have found a confusing fork along the way, where both routes seem equally unused. If you turn right on the incorrect route by mistake, however, it will quickly become obvious that you are on a dead-end road. Then return to Road 1909 and continue, following the "keep right when in doubt" rule.

-- #94 Japanese Bombing Site -- Be warned that Mt. Emily Road 1205 is a long, twisty gravel road. The route is not entirely uphill, but goes up and down. There are many junctions, but stick to Road 1205, which is usually the larger route. After 8.2 miles on this road, the trailhead is actually on the right-hand side (not the left) and is very well marked.

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