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Salmonberry River Canyon (Coast Range) - May 7, 2007

Posted by justpeachy (2007-05-09)
If you have the book 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland, you may have seen or even done this unique hike. If you're a Trails.com subscriber, you can see the trail guide here.

This is an interesting "trail". The Salmonberry River travels through the Coast Range in a deep canyon, through which a railroad track also passes (it's actually the route of the Oregon Coast Explorer train from Tillamook). Since there are no trails or roads, the way to see the canyon is by walking the train tracks. This can be both tedious and difficult, since sometimes the earth between the railroad ties has eroded away, which means you have to step on the ties themselves, which makes for an awkward pace and a need for great concentration. But the scenery is worth it, especially this time of year when everything is really green.

Up the canyon

We started from the Cochran Pond, as recommended in the guide. We walked downhill for probably 4 miles before turning around and heading back. Along the way we crossed several small trestles and two big tall ones. The trestles were kind of fun, actually. We also walked through two tunnels. By the way, bring a head lamp for the tunnels! We forgot ours and just had the flashlight from the car. Fortunately because it was a bright sunny day, only the middle of the tunnel was dark.

Trestle with a view

We saw two trains. One we didn't hear until about a minute before it came around a bend. The book says the trains are required to blow their whistles all through the canyon, but this one wasn't. Still, it was going uphill and going slow, so we had time to get out of the way. When the other train passed, we were already taking a break alongside the tracks. It also did not blow its whistle through the canyon, although it did once it saw us sitting by the tracks. We also saw three maintenance trucks with their special railroad wheels.

Wave to the train

The map in the book is a little off-scale. We traveled a long distance after the second tunnel, and looking at the map we should have reached the third tunnel, but we never did. Bring a topo map. Not like you're going to get lost out here, but it's nice to know where you are.

This is a different kind of hike, for sure. But it's quite scenic. The whole section is quite long, 16 miles I think. We'd like to explore further out towards the other end, where the steel bridges are and the two-house town of Enright. Maybe in the autumn.

Took lots of pictures, which you can see here on flickr.

Re: Salmonberry River Canyon (Coast Range) - May 7, 2007

Posted by fettster (2007-05-10)
Interesting post, that's a new one for me.  I wonder if there might be some nice fall colors there?  I don't have a subscription for that site, whereabouts is the trailhead?

Re: Salmonberry River Canyon (Coast Range) - May 7, 2007

Posted by sparklehorse (2007-05-10)

That's an awesome little hike! I did it for the first time about a year ago and had a blast. The trestles and tunnels are very cool. Highly recommended.






a guidebook for Tillamook State Forest

Posted by yew_betula (2007-05-10)

In 2001 the Portland Chapter of the Sierra Club put out "50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest" which includes a few Salmonberry River hikes and has directions and information in addition to Trails.com or the Portland area guidebook.  I don't know where people can buy "50 Hikes in Tillamook...".  Powell's and other used bookstores?

If you're good at finding your way driving and hiking, the area around Sawtooth Ridge, South Fork Kilchis River and west of Cedar Butte is nice.  The South Fork Kilchis drainage kinda' forms a relatively large roadless area with Sawtooth Ridge and the Coast Range here is rocky, craggy and open on top in spots.  Here's a pic looking down into that area from Cedar Butte: http://www.msnusers.com/hikingjer/northwest.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=884 and from Sawtooth Ridge http://www.msnusers.com/hikingjer/northwest.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=898

You mentioned the Standard Grade Road.  In 2001 it was gated and made for a nice mountain bike ride.  It has good views and some rock gardens. 

Re: Salmonberry River Canyon (Coast Range) - May 7, 2007

Posted by Dan-o (2007-12-23)
 Just a cautionary fyi...

While hiking on RR tracks may be listed in some hiking guides, it can be a dangerous activity and it IS illegal.  Most railroads take a dim view of trespassing these days and will aggressively prosecute violators, so be advised.  The Port of Tillamook Bay RR may be a little more easy-going about this than larger roads but careful is the word.  It's also true that they won't be running any freight trains in the near future after some massive storm damage.  Work trains are a possibility though.

I've hiked many miles over RR tracks through the years, including the Salmonberry canyon, so I can attest to the nice grades and remote scenery.  As a locomotive engineer I can also tell you that whistle blowing in canyons is NOT required by law- so it is very easy to be surprised by a train.  The basic precaution is to expect trains at anytime, at any place, from either direction.

Be safe!


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