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The Crown Jewel of trails – The Oregon Coast Trail

OCT – Ecola State Park

Submitted by guest blogger, Connie Soper, author of Exploring The Oregon Coast Trail

Considered by many as the “crown jewel” of Oregon’s long-distance trails, the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) stretches from the Columbia River in the north to the California border in the south, almost 400 miles later. About half the trail is located on Oregon’s public beaches, while other segments carry hikers over headlands and capes, as well as through some 25 coastal communities. Those who hike the length of the trail will experience most of Oregon’s scenic coastline and can learn first-hand the history and stories of places passed along the way. Although officially declared as a trail over 40 years ago by the State Parks Department, the OCT remains incomplete because some portions of the trail require hikers to walk along the shoulder of US Highway 101.

In 2017, Oregon lawmakers adopted legislation requiring that the State Parks Department complete an Action Plan to identify steps and funding needed to address these gaps. Oregon Solutions (OS), a statewide collaborative problem-solving organization and County Solutions (CS), a county-based problem-solving organization have partnered to assess who and how to engage communities of interest in planning for and improving the OCT, with the ultimate goal of identifying actions needed to complete it. The first phase of the County Solutions effort wrapped up in the summer of 2018 with the assistance of a grant from Travel Oregon. It focused on interviewing key stakeholders as well as documenting key issues, concerns, challenges and opportunities.

The next phase of the project has recently launched, also supported with a Travel Oregon grant. This phase will convene elected officials, government agencies, and organizations that either own segments of current or future Oregon Coast Trail or will play a role in constructing or maintaining the Oregon Coast Trail. Oregon State Parks will also host public open houses to give members of the public an opportunity to share their perspectives and directly engage in helping craft solutions to address identified gaps in the trail.

Visit State Parks website for maps and information about each section of the Oregon Coast Trail.