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Three Trails on Oregon Coast Closed Through 2023 Due to Damage

Published 06/03/21 at 3:35 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Three Trails on Oregon Coast Closed Through 2023 Due to Damage

(Manzanita, Oregon) – Three sections of two trail systems on the north Oregon coast remain impassable because of downed trees, and Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) recently announced they will stay closed for two years as crews work to take out the debris. All three are in Tillamook County: one trail at Cape Lookout and two at Oswald West State Park will be closed until at least spring of 2023.

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OPRD said the damage is extensive. It is working closely with FEMA and other partners at the federal level, along with private consultants, FEMA, Oregon Department of Forestry, South Fork Forest Camp and volunteers to map out the worst-hit areas and create a plan for reopening.

What’s Closed:

At Cape Lookout State Park, all of the North Trail is shut down from the state park on the beach and its day-use area through to the Cape Trail on the headland.

At Oswald West State Park, closed is the 1.4-mile section at Arch Cape, the initial portion of the Arch Cape to Cape Falcon Trail that runs from the north trailhead to the crossing at Highway 101. The second closure is that much-loved Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain Trail, from the trailhead at Highway 101 up to the summit of the mountain.

All three trails are part of the Oregon Coast Trail, a phenomenal hiking stretch that runs along the entirety of Oregon’s 362-mile-long coastline.

The downed trees come from a major windstorm that crushed much of the state back in September. At Mt. Hebo, top winds were recorded at 92 mph, tearing down forests throughout the Oregon coast but especially open headlands.

OPRD said these trails have been closed since Labor Day back in 2020, when the same winds that stoked and fueled the tragic wildfires around the state also knocked down about 185 acres worth of trees at Oswald West State Park and Cape Lookout State Park. Following that came a very wet and stormy fall and winter season, which knocked down more trees that had already been weakened. This series of inclement weather events also weakened other trees, further creating other dangerous situations in the woods.

Some sections of the coastline had 90 percent of its trees knocked over or in danger of doing so, according to OPRD. These were towering and regal trees that sometimes were as tall as 140 feet, including Douglas fir, Sitka Spruce and hemlock.

“We want to thank visitors for their patience as we work as quickly as possible to reopen these historic and culturally important trails,” said North Coast District Manager Justin Parker. “In the meantime, we encourage visitors to explore one of the many open trails along the north coast.”


Neahkahnie Mountain, courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium

The tasks of repairing trails and restoring the landscape is involved and complex, OPRD said. It requires first selectively removing fallen and dangerous trees that are 200 feet on either side of the trail, a job that must initially be done by helicopter. Some 67 acres of forest need to be carefully plucked in this way. Wherever possible, OPRD will leave trees to provide habitats for local wildlife.

However, this year’s tenuous wildfire situations kept crews busy all year and threaten to do so again this summer. It will be this coming winter that OPRD can even begin the massive job.

Once trails are clear, ground crews can safely enter the area to assess damage and rebuild trails, a process that’s expected to take a year.

“We are focused on keeping workers and visitors safe, while being good stewards of this public land,” Parker said. “We don’t want to rush the process, knowing that decisions we make today will affect how the forest looks for hundreds of years.”

Many other trails on the north coast are open, and in general the rest of the south and central coast trails are unaffected. Information on trails managed by OPRD is at stateparks.oregon.gov.

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MORE PHOTOS BELOW





Neahkahnie Mountain, courtesy Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium



Cape Lookout trailhead

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