This 10 mile hike along an abandoned railroad travels through numerous tunnels, bridges, and lush riparian forests as it makes its way through the rugged and remote Salmonberry River Canyon in Oregon’s Tillamook State Forest.

If you've been following

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you probably know I have a thing for abandoned railroads, like the Hoover Dam train tunnel hike near Lake Mead…

...or the

…or the Donner Pass tunnels in California’s Sierra Nevada.

aaa

The hike that travels along Oregon’s abandoned Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad is just as epic as the other two but with one big difference…

...it's a

…it’s a lot more wild.

The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, a successor to Southern Pacific, was 88 miles long, with 60 trestles, large and small.

The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, a successor to Southern Pacific, was 86 miles long and once ran through the lush green forests of the Coast Range on a route from Tillamook to western Washington County.

That all changed eight years ago this month, when the two-day Great Coastal Gale of 2007 pounded the Oregon Coast Range with hurricane-force winds and relentless rain. The storm eroded embankments and damaged tunnels, rendering the tracks impassable. Escalating costs dissuaded the Port of Tillamook Railroad from making repairs, and the rails have gone unused ever since.

That all changed in 2007 after a massive two-day storm pounded the Oregon Coast Range with hurricane-force winds and relentless rain.

The storm eroded embankments and damaged tunnels, rendering the tracks impassable. Escalating costs dissuaded the Port of Tillamook Railroad from making repairs, and the rails have gone unused ever since.

The storm eroded embankments, damaged tunnels, and left large sections of track hanging in midair.

Unable to afford the

Unwilling to spend the estimated $57.3 million it would’ve taken to get the trains running again, the Port of Tillamook Bay opted to not repair the damaged sections of track but continues to own more than 101 miles of railroad right-of-way, including main line, spurs, and sidings.

I found out about this hike a few years ago but only recently had the opportunity to experience it during our

I’ve been wanting to do this hike for years and finally had my chance during a recent week long road trip through Oregon.

Located in rugged Tillamook State Forest about 70 minutes from Portland, this 10 mile round trip hike follows abandoned railroad tracks overgrown with raspberry brambles and baby alders.

The trailhead is located 70 minutes west of Portland, near Timber, Oregon.   – Salmonberry Trail Concept Plan

It

As we set off on our wet hike, it soon became apparent that something wasn’t right..

abandoned railroad tracks overgrown with raspberry brambles and baby alders.

The jungle of overgrown raspberry brambles and baby alders became so dense that it almost made it impossible to remain on the trail.

ss

We soon realized we had headed out in the wrong direction when we began our hike back at the trailhead. Oops!

ss

Someone wasn’t happy…

s

…and you wouldn’t be either if you were wearing shorts while walking through this mess.

dd

After exploring the area around Reliance Trestle, we decided to make our way back to the trailhead and start over.

Our little mistake ended up being 3 miles

By the time we made it back to where we started, we had already hiked 3 miles. As we headed off in the other direction, I started to recognize things I had seen while doing my research for the hike.

aaa

Including this old railroad switch…

ss

…and Cochran, which was once a mill and railroad station along the line. The old mill pond (Cochran Pond) still houses some remains from the operation on the shore across from the tracks.

Compared to California, Oregon has way less of crap like this but it still

While not entirely free of atrocities like this…

...and

…Oregonians do seem to take better care of their surroundings than we (Californians) do.

here is a fiber optic cable easement along the length of the POTB corridor, from Banks to Nedonna Beach. The current fiber cable lease with WCI Cable ends in 2018 and WCI has the option to extend for another 20 years. Within this easement, a duct bank was installed by WCI in 1999, containing three individual cables, each supporting high-capacity international undersea systems, under a $4 million agreement. The cables include the Southern Cross Cable to Oahu and Australia, the Tata TGN cables to Japan and NorthStar Cable to Alaska. The fiber optic cables within the ROW were damaged at several points by the 2007 storm and are currently inoperable. WCI performed a damage study and found that 9 total miles were completely washed away, presumably now sitting under debris or in the Salmonberry River itself. The cables were installed 4’ deep, typically at a 9’ setback from the rails, never under rails.

There is a fiber optic cable easement along the length of the abandoned railroad corridor. Within this easement, a duct bank was installed in 1999, containing three individual cables, each supporting high-capacity international undersea systems.

The cables were damaged at several points by the 2007 storm and are currently inoperable.

The cables were damaged at several points by the 2007 storm and are currently inoperable.

dsc00117

dsc00093

There’s a sinkhole under the tracks as you reach the 801 marker which is a great spot t

There’s a sinkhole under the tracks as you reach the 801 marker.

The fl

Floating Rail Magic

37282dsc00109

Soon Tunnel 26 comes into view.

Soon the first tunnel of the hike came into view.

dsc00147dsc00320dsc00162

Hikers should bring flashlights to combat the tunnels along both sections of the hike.

Make sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp, it gets pretty dark in there.

dsc00334

On the other side of the tunnel is the old permit box, a place where hikers would sign a disclaimer when the track was active.

When the railroad was still active, hikers used to have to sign a register/waiver at this permit box at the end of the first tunnel.

A small waterfall after the permit box.

Small waterfalls, like this, can be found throughout the hike.

Walk over three short trestles as the railroad passes along rock faces.

The tracks soon pass over three short trestles as it makes its way closer to the biggest trestle of all.

dsc00187

Face Your Fears

F UR F!

dsc00189dsc00197

Old water tank along the tracks.

An old rusted tagged up water tank sits beside the tracks.

dsc00207

The steel-girdered Big Baldwin Trestle is 165’ high and 520’ in length, the largest trestle on the line.

The steel-girdered Big Baldwin Trestle is 165’ high and 520’ in length, the largest trestle on the line.

dsc00285

The wooden trestle is more than 100 years old but remained strong after the pummeling storms.

The wooden trestle is more than 100 years old and has aged fairly well considering the extreme conditions it’s been faced with during that time.

dsc00227

One false step here...

One false step here…

...could land you 16 stories to the creek below.

…could land you 16 stories to the creek below.

Strudy

Sturdy

Steely

Steely

Pass

A little ways past Big Baldwin Trestle on the right, is a grassy area with a memorial plaque to the seven railroad workers who lost their lives in the 1930s when the Little Baldwin Trestle collapsed. RIP.

As of 2013, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and other groups are working to make this a biking/hiking route for the entire length of the line. The Salmonberry Corridor Rail-Trail is a promising project under development that will span 86 miles from the outskirts of Portland to the Pacific Ocean. The trail is intended to be used by bicyclists, walkers, and equestrians and is expected to be mostly gravel with some paved sections through city centers. A concept plan for the trail is in place and a coalition to lead the effort—the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency—officially established itself in the fall of 2015 and hired its first full-time staffer.

As of 2013, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and other groups are working to make the abandoned railway a biking/hiking route for the entire length of the line. The Salmonberry Corridor Rail-Trail is a promising project under development that will span 86 miles from the outskirts of Portland to the Pacific Ocean. The trail is intended to be used by bicyclists, walkers, and equestrians and is expected to be mostly gravel with some paved sections through city centers. A concept plan for the trail is in place and a coalition to lead the effort—the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency—officially established itself in the fall of 2015.