By Cheryl Hill – TKO Trail Ambassador and author of Fire Lookouts of Oregon
You may know that you can volunteer with TKO to build and maintain trails, but did you know that you can also volunteer as a Trail Ambassador?
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The Oregon Coast is a sight to be seen. Known as the People’s Coast for its unique public access, the scenic vistas and rocky shores are endlessly connected by numerous hiking trails up and down the coastline. Since 2018, TKO has teamed up with Oregon Coast Visitors Association and many other partners in a concerted effort to build a trail stewardship movement for the Oregon Coast Trail and connective trails systems.
Three sections of the OCT will remain closed until at least spring 2023 due to extensive trail damage from a severe windstorm in 2020. TKO is actively pursuing capacity to support trail restoration and building ways for communities to get involved in opening these closed sections:
Each year, we see winter storms cause blowdown and slides. The OCT and its feed trails need to have a strong stewardship partner to respond so that these trails can remain!
The Oregon Coast Trail is made up of ten trail segments that run the length of Oregon’s 363-mile coastline. Well suited to both day hikers and thru-hikers alike, this is a trail unlike any other—exploring dramatic coastal headlands, picturesque beaches and a diversity of park and public lands by day, and connecting the amenities of Oregon’s colorful coastal towns throughout the journey. Roughly 200 miles uses the beach and 155 miles is along completed inland trails. Some sections — about 40 miles, or 10 percent of the entire route — are disconnected, inconvenient, unsafe or inaccessible during certain seasons. These are identified as “gap sections” and TKO is primed to step up and help to solve these gaps with new hiking trail advocacy and development. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation, federal land managers, local governments and trail advocates are all working together to close these gaps.
The trail down to Harts Cove is a spur trail from the Oregon Coast Trail that runs through this region of Cascade Head, within the Siuslaw National Forest just north of Lincoln City. The Harts Cove trail puts you on the edge of a cliff looking down into a churning inlet fed by a narrow waterfall known as Chitwood Creek Falls. Seabirds, seals, and sea lions can often be seen in the area, and the walk to Harts Cove takes you through some lush old-growth stands of hemlock and Sitka spruce. Here in eras past, massive lava flows entered the Pacific Ocean. Now millennia later, the high winds and storms have prevented the growth of forest and the land is dominated by flowers and grasses. This meadow exemplifies one of the rarest ecosystems in Oregon, the marine headland meadow. This habitat is critical to several key species, including the endangered Oregon silverspot butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta), while the surrounding forest harbors spotted owls and nesting marbled murrelets. The trail is closed for half of the year to protect these threatened species.
TKO is taking a wholistic approach to the Oregon Coast Trail and its many system trails that cross and loop off to so many beach access points and scenic sites.
Portland, Ore. – March 3, 2022 – This spring, Trailkeepers of Oregon, the US Forest Service, Oregon State Parks and the Mt. Hood – Columbia River Gorge Regional Tourism Alliance are kicking off another season of the Trail Ambassador Program to equip visitors with the information they need for a safe, informed, and positive experience when hiking and visiting the region. The Trail Ambassador 2022 season will kick-off on Earth Day weekend, April 23rd, and Trailkeepers of Oregon is currently seeking volunteers.
Volunteer Trail Ambassadors are placed at some of the busiest trailheads in the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood. Volunteers will have the opportunity to table at trailheads and hike the trails on weekends during peak season. Volunteers will engage with the public to answer hiking and destination related questions, promote responsible stewardship ethics, communicate about trail conditions and alternative hike information, as well as direct folks to resources such as OregonHikers.org, Ready, Set, GOrge, and land manager and partner websites.
Trail Ambassadors communicate key safety and trail condition information integral to both keeping folks safe and promoting stewardship of our most heavily visited recreation sites. Staying on official trails, packing out waste, being responsible with pets, and knowing about other nearby options if the destination is overcrowded, are important aspects of the program.
“Local volunteer Trail Ambassadors are one of the greatest assets we have in the region to help inform and inspire safe and positive hiking experiences on our trails. A warm welcome and helpful advice can make the difference in having a good vs. bad experience on a trail and that is what Trail Ambassadors can provide. And who is better at sharing a favorite post-hike lunch or brewery suggestion than a local?” said Lizzie Keenan, Regional Lead for the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Regional Tourism Alliance.
Program organizers are looking for friendly, professional, outgoing individuals who enjoy informing and helping others and possess knowledge of Gorge and Mt. Hood trails. Volunteers are required to take an online training before signing up to volunteer.
For Trail Ambassador Program details and to sign up to volunteer, go to trailkeepersoforegon.org/trailambassadors.
There will be an online information sessions to answer any questions about the program. The next sessions are on March 16 at 6:30pm and April 6th at 12pm. Please register for the info sessions here.
For additional press questions, please contact Natalie Ferraro with Trailkeepers of Oregon at email@example.com
Since cutting their saw teeth after the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017, TKO Volunteers have (unfortunately) gotten really good at using their skills to recover trails from wildfire. Mt Hood National Forest has engaged TKO to help in the rehabilitation of the Clackamas River Trail, a popular hiking destination within the Mt Hood National Forest. […]