Home  •   Field Guide  •   Forums  •    Unread Posts  •   Maps  •   Find a Hike!
| Page | Discussion | View source | History | Print Friendly and PDF

Lower Salmonberry River Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Water tank at Enright (Steve Hart)
Mossy boulders on the lower Salmonberry (bobcat)
Tracks in the air, Salmonberry River (bobcat)
A narrows on the lower Salmonberry (bobcat)
Stranded log cars at Enright (Steve Hart)
Route along the railroad described here (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: National Geographic Topo
  • Start point: Salmonberry TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point:Enright
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 9.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 275 feet
  • High Point: 500 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Note: The Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency and the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad have declared the route through the Salmonberry Canyon "dangerous and closed to the public." No Trespassing signs have been posted at the east and west ends of the canyon. You can still access the Salmonberry Canyon by hiking down the North Fork Salmonberry Road or Beaver Slide Road, but you can't hike the route of the railroad. Plans are being considered to construct a hiking/biking trail through the canyon with the involvement of Oregon State Parks, but these are in the exploratory stages only.

The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, a successor to Southern Pacific, was 88 miles long, with 60 trestles, large and small. Mileage markers along the track run from MP 769 in Banks to MP 856 in Tillamook. When in operation, the railroad allowed hikers to use the section between the Salmonberry/Nehalem confluence and Cochran. Now, after the December 2007 Great Coastal Gale, the railroad is in disrepair and much of the line in the Salmonberry Canyon will probably never be used by trains again. The section from the confluence of the Salmonberry with the Nehalem to the site of the old logging camp of Enright suffered less damage and may be revived as a tourist railroad (but hikers may still be allowed to walk it). This section keeps close to the river and affords some beautiful vistas as you enter the canyon proper. Here and there, rusting relics of the rail operation linger for your discovery.

At the Salmonberry Trailhead, head eastward (left) on the tracks. You'll cross a private road and then see several houses across the river. Alders and big-leaf maples dominate the riverbank, while Douglas-firs and hemlocks over a sword fern carpet cloak the hillside. After you cross the Salmonberry River on a 1920s steel truss bridge, where you can look down on a favored fishing hole and summer swimming spot, you'll leave all signs of humanity behind. Just beyond this bridge, the track enters a stretch of private property, so keep to the right-of-way. The trail crosses the small Buick Creek Bridge: like all the bridges on this section of the railroad, there are serrated grates for hikers from the days when walkers and trains used the tracks together. Notice also the orange posts denoting the alignment of a fiber optic cable. The tracks cut across a bend in the river. A zipline leads to a remote cabin. Then enter an area of Scots broom. Come to a 1920s through truss bridge across the Salmonberry. Look to your left to see a twin waterfall on a creek tumbling into the Salmonberry. The tracks have been undermined on both ends of this bridge. Once you have crossed the bridge, you are back on state land.

Divert off the tracks where a stream has covered the track with debris and then hike above a very broad and shallow stretch of the river. Step off to the left where the tracks are suspended over a yawning chasm. Negotiate a rock slide and notice the Scots broom taking over in the area. At a rapid in the river, look for the rusting chassis of a log car that somehow found its way into the spate. The river braids around a vast gravel bar as you pass through a tunnel of Scots broom at the old siding of Belfort, where you'll see the grade from an old road or railroad heading up the hill. Across the river, see Belfort Creek splashing into the river. Then the Salmonberry narrows again as it runs over bedrock. The trail departs from the tracks for 225 yards to negotiate a massive debris slide from the 2007 storm. Cross a creek and pass under tall Douglas-firs before rejoining the tracks. Then come to the Belfort Rock Pit. An abandoned tie inserter rots here alongside the tracks.

Soon reach another through truss bridge that spans the Salmonberry. This bridge suffered some damage during the 2007 storm, a little disconcerting when you see that it sits 15 feet above current water levels. In mid- to late winter, look for steelhead spawning in quiet pools near here. A clearcut comes almost all the way down to the rail line. The river becomes constricted between mossy boulders. Make a short detour around another suspended section of track. Cross a small bridge over Tank Creek and then reach a water tank. Water from Tank Creek was held here to fill the steam engines before they assaulted the hill beyond Enright. In the brush behind the water tank, look for the rusting remains of a boxcar. Continue on into Enright, an enclave of private property and the site of a former logging camp. Here, 17 log cars languish on a siding, perhaps never to roll again. There are two private cabins in Enright: the second was the office for the logging camp, which was most active in the 1930s when all the old growth was cut.


Maps

  • Maps: Hike Finder
  • State of Oregon, Department of Forestry: Tillamook State Forest

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • Respect all private property signs: on this stretch of the railroad, most of the land south of the tracks is private property; most of the land north of the tracks is in the Tillamook State Forest. In effect, this means, in addition to the private land around Enright, there is only about 3/4 mile where you should keep strictly to the tracks on the north side. This begins about 100 yards east of the Ninth Salmonberry River Bridge and ends where the Eighth Salmonberry River Bridge recrosses the river. The short stretch from the latter bridge to Tank Creek is Tillamook State Forest land.
  • Watch for undermined sections of rail and stay away from undercut embankments
  • The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad still has the rights to the track as far as Enright. Do not touch or tamper with any of the equipment left along the line.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Off the Beaten Trail by Matt Reeder
  • Hiking from Portland to the Coast by James D. Thayer
  • 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest by the Tillamook State Forest Committee, Columbia Group Sierra Club

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.