Revitalizing the Salmonberry Trail. This 86-Mile Trail winds through valley and forest

Revitalizing the Salmonberry Trail. This 86-Mile Trail winds through valley and forest

The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA) and Tillamook County recently announced they have granted additional financial support needed to complete the remaining master planning for segments of the Salmonberry Trail, Oregon’s most ambitious rail-to-trail project.

The WCVA and Tillamook County each awarded $175,000, the combined total of which – $350,000 – will help finance the master planning of the18.6-mile canyon segment and the 15.3-mile river segment of the Salmonberry Trail, which are the remaining two of the four total segments of the 86-mile trail. Master planning on the coastal section was completed in 2017, and the valley section (from Banks to the top of the Coast Range) in 2018.

Funding from both counties is sourced from Transient Lodging Tax (TLT), and will be allocated for a study of the Canyon and River segments that will analyze the impacts and constraints of developing a recreational trail along the old rail corridor. Designs will be identified to help mitigate or eliminate multiple constraints. In addition, the study will evaluate rail bridges and tunnels to be reused or replaced for trail development, as well as provide detailed cost estimates of trail development.

The 86-mile non-motorized trail will wind through valleys and forests, along rivers and a historic railroad line crossing through Washington and Tillamook counties as it passes over the top of the Oregon Coast Range, connecting the coast and the Portland-metro area. The rail line has moved people and goods through the heart of Northwest Oregon’s most remote country and rich timberland—an area rich with history—since 1911. From the early logging camps to the monumental efforts to reforest the area devastated by the Tillamook Burn, and the development of vibrant dairy and wine industries in Tillamook and Washington counties, this passage has long played an important role in connecting Oregonians with the natural resources of their state.

The project began after a segment of the rail line was severed by heavy winter storms in 2007 in the Salmonberry Canyon area. The high cost of repairing the line combined with reduced use led to the Port of Tillamook Bay’s decision not to restore rail service through the canyon, sparking interest in a rails-to-trails project. The trail will serve diverse users from day hikers to trekkers and from families taking a morning ride to bikers riding the entire trail, and will connect into a wide network of existing recreational trails and parks, educational opportunities and heritage sites while providing a safer route for non-motorized users. The revitalized trail will also support local economies through tourism and recreation and connect Oregonians to nature by educating urban and rural communities about the importance of the railway and bounty of natural resources.

“We are excited to be a part of this great project,” said Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey. “Trails improve health and wellness, strengthen social and cultural relationships among rural, suburban and urban residents and help residents forge new ties to our past and future.”

The WCVA funded the first tangible element of the Salmonberry Trail last year when it dedicated the Manning Trailhead, adjacent to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will take the lead on the Salmonberry Trail coast segment planning study and final plan report, with support from the Salmonberry Trail Foundation.

For more information on the Salmonberry Trail project and planning process, visit www.salmonberrytrail.org.