Luinil - Traveling with the Blue Star

July 2021 — 20 Rivers to Cross, A Trip Through the Oregon Coastal Mountains
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Copyright © 2015 - 2023 Larrie Easterly

Forest Road

Forest Road — Photo Galley

This trip has been a long time coming. In 2018 I came across the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route (ORBDR) that starts in New Pine Creek, south of Lakeview, on the California border and ends at the Washington border east of Walla Walla. Like other BDR’s the roads are primarily gravel. Looking at the map of the ORBDR route I got to wondering if there was a north south route through the Oregon coastal mountains that started at the Columbia River and ended at the California Border.

Searching the web and other sources turned up no trip reports of videos about the route I was thinking about. Getting out several Oregon highway maps and a felt tip pen I started looking to see if it was possible. It looked like it was.

From the paper maps I moved on to electronic maps included with the Gaia GPS App layers as well as loading a layer that showed what private property I would be traveling through. Once the route was laid out it was time to test run the route.

Columbia River

Columbia River — Photo Galley

In June 2020 I scouted out the first part of the trip. Starting at the most northerly point in Oregon that you can drive to, Aldrich Point boat ramp on the Columbia River. From there I headed south through the Clatsop State Forest to Jewel then on to Highway 26. Crossing the highway I continued south through the Tillamook State Forest to Highway 8 before heading home.

Oregon had its usual two weeks of nice sunny weather in January 2021 so I decided to scout the next leg of the trip. My buddy Kit and Pilot, a friend of his, joined me for this next longer section that runs between Highway 8 and ends at Highway 126 near Mapleton.

One of the drawbacks to traveling in the coastal forest in January is the good possibility of coming across trees that were blown down in the winter storms. Some trees were hanging over the road with enough clearance to drive under. Other times we had to stop, cut the trees up, and move them off to the side of the road so we could continue.

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean — Photo Galley

In April it was time to scout the last section of the trip. My buddy Rick joined me for this section. We started in Mapleton and ended on the beach south of Brookings at the California border. We did not run into any downed trees but we did run into snow in the mountains east of Gold Beach that required us to find an alternate route around.

The scouting trips proved that it was possible to drive from the Columbia River to the California Border through the coast range. Now it was time to run the entire route to find camping spots and drive the sections that we had to bypass. Rick came along for the northern part of the trip and my buddy Charles was with me for the entire trip.

Along the way we stopped at Nehalem Falls, Clarence Creek Falls, Niagara and Pheasant Creek Falls, as well as Sweet Creek Falls and Beaver Falls.

Camped in the Trees

Camped in the Trees — Photo Galley

Our campsites were a combination of designated Forest Service sites, a county park, and wonderful wooded locations off the road.

We were surprised to see a lot of deer, a herd of elk and a few black bears along the route. We also lucked out on the July trip as it was berry season. The salmon, thimble, and Oregon black berries were in full production. Boy were they good. I can never get enough thimble berries.

Columbia Lily

Columbia Lily — Photo Galley

Not only were the berries in full production the wild flowers were in full bloom. Along the way we were treated to forests fo Fox Gloves, fields of white daisies, a few Western Columbines and one I had never seen before, the Columbia Lily.

This trip took a long time manifest and it was well worth the time to research, scout it out and finely run it. It was everything I hoped it would be.

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