Big Changes at Trailkeepers of Oregon

The author at Owl Point.

Trailkeepers of Oregon will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year.

This important milestone marks not only ten years of our work, but some big steps to buildthe foundation for our next decade. Chief among those is the hiring of our first Executive Director, Steve Kruger. You will hear more from Steve in the coming months, which brings us to a second announcement—our newsletter. You are now reading the first issue of what we intend to be a quarterly newsletter. We hope that you find value in keeping up with our ongoing work and reading the fun and informative articles we have planned for you. This leads to our third announcement—a new membership program. We depend on your support to continue our work, and a great way to do that is by becoming a member. There are some fun rewards, and you can start your membership now by clicking here.

As we look ahead to some very big changes for the organization, it’s also a time to reflect on how far we’ve come. In the summer of 2007, I began posting trip reports on the Portland Hikers Forum, a new but rapidly growing web community, about a “lost trail” on the north side of Mount Hood. The trail was a little known extension of the popular Vista Ridge Trail. It toured some of the most scenic country in the Mount Hood area but had been abandoned for decades. Worse yet, the trail was being considered as part of a possible large motorcycle “play park” that would destroy many subalpine meadows and huckleberry fields in this remarkable area.

And so it was that volunteers from the Portland Hikers Forum organized an impromptu trip to clear the old trail in hopes of bringing more hikers to appreciate and defend what would soon be dubbed the Old Vista Ridge Trail. That trail work on Old Vista Ridge was the beginning of what would become Trailkeepers of Oregon (TKO). The founding members from the Portland Hikers Forum recognized the crisis facing trails on our public lands and the need for organized advocacy for both trails and hiking in Oregon.

As we celebrate our first decade much has changed. TKO now sponsors dozens of trail stewardship projects each year, totaling thousands of hours of volunteer work. We are gradually expanding our service area in an effort to become a truly statewide organization. And as part of our education and outreach mission, we continue to sponsor the Oregon Hikers Forum and the Oregon Hikers Field Guide, which now has information on 900-plus hikes, online and free to the public.

Now, ten years on, TKO will also be hiring our first Executive Director this summer to continue our growth and expand our protection of trails and construction of new trails. We hope you will take this next step with us, and, if you haven’t already, become a member of TKO. Your membership support will help ensure that we can continue our work as advocates and stewards for Oregon’s trails.

This summer, our journey as trail advocates will come full circle at Old Vista Ridge. The US Forest Service has agreed to formally recognize this beautiful trail after nearly fifty years of being officially abandoned. TKO is adopting the trail to ensure its ongoing maintenance. We’ll be leading stewardship projects there this summer to celebrate our first decade and continue bringing this old trail to life. And this time the work will be sanctioned!

We have much more planned as we move into our second decade, including brand new trails on Mount Hood, in the Columbia River Gorge, and around Oregon as part of our “20 Trails in 20 Years” campaign. Anyone can join us for one of our volunteer work parties! No experience or equipment is required, and you’ll feel great participating in the care of your trails.

In the meantime, stop by our Oregon Hikers Forum and Oregon Hikers Field Guide to learn the latest on the best places to hike. We hope you’ll also consider supporting TKO and become a member.

Thanks, and see you on the trail!

Tom Kloster

President, Trailkeepers of Oregon

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