Did you know?
Did you know that almost all of the trails we hike today were built more than 80 years ago? Did you know that more than half of the trails built in that era have since been lost to logging and road building? Did you know that Oregon’s population has more than quadrupled in that same period?
If you’re a hiker, you probably have seen the crowded trailheads and trails that reflect these trends, but did you know that almost all trails on our public lands are now maintained by volunteers? There are a lot of factors behind this troubling trend, and public land agencies like the U.S. Forest Service are threatening to close even more trails to the public for lack of funds to maintain them.
Trailkeepers of Oregon (TKO) was founded in 2007 by a group of concerned hikers who wanted to reverse this trend. Why? Because trails are an essential haven from the stress of our daily lives. They allow us to maintain our physical and mental health while surrounded by nature and, in Oregon, immersed in some of the most dramatic and varied natural landscapes in the world.
Trails also allow our children to connect with nature in ways that older, less urban generations once took for granted. They allow families to escape to places where rushing water, hollow logs, giant boulders and sweeping mountaintop vistas take the place (if only briefly) of computer monitors and video games!
Taking action to save Oregon’s trails
TKO’s work begins with maintenance and stewardship projects that preserve the trails we already have with idea that we’re not willing to lose another trail to neglect. In the longer term, TKO is also committed to restoring proper funding and renewing public agency interest in trails for all the proven benefits they provide for the public.
Our greatest trail building era occurred in the 1930s, when President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built thousands of miles of trails on public lands across the country. The CCC was the first New Deal program created in response to the Great Depression and aimed at helping young men gain working skills and earn a wage during difficult times.
While the times have changed, volunteers on TKO projects take home a similar sense of satisfaction as those CCC boys experienced in the 1930s. In exchange for muddy clothes, sore muscles and tired hands, our volunteers come away with a strong sense of satisfaction from having done their part to keep a trail alive and, in turn, ensure that future generations can also share the hiking experience. Often, our projects are on trails built by the CCC; in that way, TKO is part of the same legacy.
The CCC trails marked a turning point in our history, as most of these trails were built expressly for recreation and to give ordinary Americans a way to enjoy our public lands. Since that time, the country has outgrown our legacy trail system, and we see that today at popular trails around Oregon.
TKO believes that new trails should be opened to keep pace with growing demand for hiking opportunities. We see new trails as the best solution for overcrowding on popular routes and are working with our public land agencies to plan new trails that TKO can help build.
We would love your help! If you’re interested in volunteering for a trail project, you can learn more at the Events page about upcoming projects or simply contact our Volunteer Coordinator for specific information on how to get involved.
If you would like to support TKO, we would appreciate your donation!
Thank you for helping TKO make a difference. See you on the trail!