Trekking the Salmonberry Trail

A few months ago my son and I set out to explore part of the Salmonberry Trail. I’ve heard about it for a few years, and I just haven’t been able to get out there until now. After a bit of research I figured out where I wanted to start from, and the direction to travel, so we set out early on a Saturday. Armed with my downloaded map sections and GPS on my iPhone we headed West out US 26 then headed south to Timber. It’s pretty easy to find once you figure it out, and for the most part the logging roads are pretty wide and well maintained, so I didn’t need to worry too much about going out in my Fiat.

Salmonberry trailStandard Grade Trail-head (East)

The East trail-head is pretty nondescript, and only one direction is open to the public, so if you head east towards the Tillamook Trestle your trespassing. Head west young man, head west.One word of caution here about the trail-head and parking. As I was leaving someone had parked the folks who were up-trail in their truck a ways in. Don’t be a douche bag, don’t block the road with your car, don’t park other people in so they can’t get out.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the way is shut, but the first half mile is a war zone of downed trees, small saplings sprouting up everywhere and general trail noise. It was very slow going and it took well over an hour to go the first mile and change, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing. Like I said, there isn’t much in the way of trail maintenance going on now, so the image to right is a good representative of what the thing looks like, but it’s really pretty awesome just as it is. There are several areas of wash-out where the tracks remain whole and fully suspended in mid-air, it really is a sight to behold. A 20 foot section of railroad, ties and all, just sitting there only being held up by the strength of the rail and the spikes holding the ties to it.

After about an hour and change we make it to the tunnel, I’m not sure if this is the last one or not, but it’s one of two that I know of for certain. The tunnel is fairly well covered in  graffiti but it’s in tact with no cave-ins. It’s not terribly long, and there’s a bit of a slide obstructing the tracks on the far side. There’s also a trail-marker sign post there with nothing on it, which is really odd since you can’t get to that point by another road, just the railway to the west and east.

This is where I came on mile marker post numbered 802, which I later discovered meant that I was 802 miles from San Francisco.

Baldwin Creek TrestleThere are a lot of small trestles along the way, seems to me we crossed four or five of them in varying lengths as we went. The first really big one is crossing Baldwin Creek. It’s probably 500 feet long and a couple hundred feet high. I want to emphasis caution and respect for the age of the crossings here. This thing is old, not maintained, and there are rotten/loose boards that could prove to create a very bad situation very fast. You have no signal out here, so getting hurt could very likely be a fatal mistake. Looking down the trestle you can actually see in its lines that the earth has shifted its base a couple of feet to the north, which gives a pretty obvious indication of how volatile the landscape is out here and it really is amazing that they continued to use this line until 2007.

This is where we turned around, and it’s pretty much on the 3 mile point so it turned into a six mile hike round trip.

We didn’t see much wildlife along the way, just a few snakes and a Chipmunk.

I’ve posted several photos from this trip on Flickr.

Beaverslide Road Trail-head (Middle)

The Beaverslide Road entry point is a bit more daunting, you definitely need a truck with 4 wheel drive on this one. Beaverslide road is about two miles long, and after the first mile it goes down with a vengeance. The road drops nearly 1,500 feet in the last mile and has 3 or 4 really deep washes and ruts. It’s totally doable when it’s dry, our Pathfinder never really slipped or complained the whole way up or down, but I would never even try it if it had been wet – I wouldn’t want to get stuck out there.

The road drops in right on top of another tunnel, and has a wide area at the bottom for turning around or even camping. Beaverslide Road and Belding Road used to connect over the creek many decades ago, but not much of that crossing is left.

The tunnel here is partially collapsed, so again, caution is advised when adventuring through the tunnel.

The trail to the immediate east is just gone. The Salmonberry River ate it. You’ll find large chunks of track strewn about the river and one with a massive bend it, but not much trail for a bit. There’s a  steep incline with a rope and a ladder to continue east towards a bridge and several more river crossings. I didn’t explore very much here at the last trip, it was hot and really humid on the valley floor so we stuck to the creek. The trail looks as passable as most of the trail I encountered further east, but I’m not 100% certain of how clear it is as I have yet to go back.

There’s another trail-head where the Salmonberry runs into the Nehalem river that I have yet to explore at all. I would recommend going out and exploring before it gets formalized and made more accessible and maintained. The Slamonberry Trail Organization is working on it, and has a plan for improvement. There’s something about it right now though, raw, not maintained and wild, it’s a sight worth experiencing before it too is gone.

Forest Hiker is a wealth of knowledge as well.

This is a map I am updating as I explore more of the railroad.

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