Sections of Oregon Coast Trail closed until 2023 for tree removal

Wildfires

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said in the hardest hit areas, up to 90% of the trees are down or in danger of falling

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Three sections of the north coast trail system in Tillamook County will remain closed for at least the next two years, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said Tuesday. 

The state said the trail closures will allow crews to remove trees damaged in the September 2020 windstorm, which fueled wildfires across the state. 

The parks and recreation department said the following trails are closed: 

  • Cape Lookout State Park: The entire North Trail at Cape Lookout State Park that connects the Day-use Area to the Cape Trail. 
  • Oswald West State Park: The 1.4-mile Arch Cape section of the Arch Cape to Cape Falcon Trail, from the north trailhead to the crossing at U.S. Highway 101.
  • Oswald West State Park: A 1.6-mile section of North Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain Trail from U.S. Highway 101 to the summit.

The state said these trails are currently impassable due to downed trees and it will require extensive work to reopen them. The trail segments have been closed since Labor Day 2020. In addition to the damage caused by the wind storm, the state said this forested area endured harsh conditions during the wet fall and winter. 

In the hardest hit areas, up to 90% of the trees are down or in danger of falling, the state said. 

To repair the trails, crews will selectively remove fallen and dangerous trees by helicopter within 200 feet of either side of the trail, a total of 67 acres, the state 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,” said Justin Parker, north coast district manager. 

The parks and recreation department is working with federal agencies, Oregon Department of Forestry, private consultants, South Fork Forest Camp, and volunteers to map the damage and prepare the trails for reopening. 

Officials say helicopter crews have been working on wildfire cleanup in other parts of the state since September 2020 and June 2021 was the soonest they were available to start the work on the north coast trails. 

The closed sections are part of the Oregon Coast Trail, which stretches 362 miles along the state’s coastline. 

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