CANNON BEACH, Ore. (KOIN) — Ecola State Park, a very popular spot for visitors for hiking and scenic view of the Pacific Ocean, remains closed until further notice after a sliding hillside is impacting the only road into and out of the park.
Just up the road from the state park is a known, active landslide. With all the rain at the Oregon coast — Since January 1 they’ve had about 10 inches of rain above normal — the hillside is on the move. It’s impacting the roadway and causing issues on a trail.
About 2 weeks ago park rangers started noticing the road sinking a bit. Then a culvert separated because the land slid and pulled it apart. Park rangers repaired it but over the past few days it dropped out again. That made the road surface uneven and unsafe.
Drivers were getting stuck as they tried to navigate around the trouble spots.
Sunday afternoon, park rangers decided to close the park until further notice. Since then they’ve also discovered some landslide-related problems below the road on the Crescent Beach Trail. Trees have uprooted and some of the trail is gone, dropped to the beach below.
Park Ranger Russell Bowen told KOIN 6 News some of the Crescent Beach Trail sheared off and dropped to the ocean below. There are also visible cracks in the ground.
“We’re seeing cracks that we’ll have to come back and look at over time and when we do re-route in the future, make sure we’re past those in a safe spot,” Bowen said.
“Trees falling over as a result of the landslide, which of course then uproots the soil and so forth,” said Ecola State Park Manager Ben Cox. “There’s erosion issues because now the root wads are not holding together the soil, so it just makes the problem worse.”
Cox said they need things to dry out a bit. Eventually they may try to add some more drains under the road to see if that helps stabilize the area.
“As the moisture falls from the sky and permeates the ground and moves through the soil and rocks, and the entire hillside is kind of slowly on the march,” Cox said. “Entire sections of the hill sort of creep out and down and when that happens, even if the surface is in good shape, of course the base underneath it is slowly moving toward the ocean.”
They hope to have things figured out withing the next couple weeks. But for now, Ecola State Park remains closed for safety reasons.
“Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do as humans to stop the mountain from moving, so it’s all about mitigating what’s here,” Cox said. “It’s a temporary fix for a long-term problem that we’re going to have to re-strategize.”