CANNON BEACH — When Jim Thayer goes for a walk, it might end 1,500 miles later.
But when the long stroll does end, he’s mapped the rough trails and logging roads extending from Portland to the Oregon Coast.
Thayer, who began his walks as president of Friends of Forest Park in Portland and wrote “Portland Forest Hikes: Twenty close-in wilderness walks,” has spent several years searching for connections between Portland, Tillamook and Seaside.
During a gathering Friday night in Cannon Beach, Thayer said that, although a wildlife corridor had been established between Portland and the coast “nobody had ever walked the thing.”
He started at the end of Scappoose and began walking on rough trails and logging roads running through the coast range.
“I walked it for five years and ran into only one Vietnamese hunter and two Portugese poachers,” Thayer quipped.
Details about the trails he has mapped out are on his website, foresthiker.com
They include the upper and lower Salmonberry Corridor trail. The lower Salmonberry eventually ends at the confluence of the Salmonberry and Nehalem rivers. The upper Salmonberry extends from Cochran Pond about 6.25 miles down to where the Belding and Beaver Slide roads meet the Salmonberry River.
In some places along the trail, hikers are 150 feet above the tallest trees, Thayer said.
“You can barely see the river below. It’s amazing,” he said.
Much of the trail follows a railway line that used to lead from Tillamook to Portland. But the line within the Salmonberry canyon was destroyed during the “Great Coastal Gale” in December 2007.
Thayer, who calls himself a “proponent for long trails,” said he would like to see the Salmonberry Trail tied into Cannon Beach.
During his presentation, Thayer told several stories about old logging towns along the trail that have since disappeared and other tales he has heard along his travels. He has compiled them on the website and intends to publish a book that traces the area’s past, from before the epidemics hit the Indians in the 1700s. He also asks about the future of the trails that wind through the forests.
Eventually, he said, the trails could be used by “ecotourists” who would enjoy seeing the Coast Range forests and hearing the stories. While some tourists would prefer “roughing it” along the trails, others might prefer the minivan approach – traveling to the trail, hiking for a day, being picked up and taken back to stay and dine in Cannon Beach.
Jobs could be created, he added.
He suggested to the audience of about 30 people that a community website be created, where hikers who walk along local trails can post photos and stories.
“I think there’s a lot of potential,” Thayer said.
This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.