A group of Oregonians from Astoria, Banks, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, and Jewell recently went about exploring part of the Wolf Creek Terrestrial Habitat Anchor in the Tillamook State Forest. The 4,203 acres of this area are soon to be formally classified as “High Value Conservation Area,” a designation which thousands of Oregon Chapter Sierra Club members worked hard to create. Our hike took us through some diverse management areas, plenty of promising and recovering wildlife habitat, and the headwaters of the Salmonberry River.
We were exceptionally fortunate to be joined by Jim Thayer, whose knowledge of the Oregon Coast Range is nearly unmatched. His website, foresthiker.com, offers great trail descriptions, historical anecdotes, pieces of Indian lore, and some beautiful pictures. Jim is also the author of Portland Forest Hikes: Twenty Close-In Wilderness Walks.
Our walk began just west of the Salmonberry headwaters in an area that had been logged in the last 10 years–a thinning operation that will hopefully help to achieve more complex forest structure by opening portions of the canopy without the tree-farm tactic of thickly replanting of seedlings. Overall, the amount of thinning in the Conservation Area was eye-opening and the Club will be vigilantly monitoring future timber sales to ensure that logging operations in this area are ecologically positive.
Though the latter part of our trek was spent bushwhacking, the massive network of logging roads and the very old elk-made pathways throughout the forest greatly expedited our cross-country travel. In the future, it would be great to see more recreational trails in the area (and fewer roads).
After some easy going on the elk trails, we took lunch after crossing a tributary creek of the Salmonberry. Along with some promising looking Steelhead spawning ground, the lunch spot offered a look into the Tillamook State Forest’s history and future: an old growth nurse stump which was likely a victim of the Tillamook burn or the salvage logging that followed, with a young tree blossoming out of the mossy top: