A lot can happen in seven years. Just ask Jim Thayer, who spent nearly that long searching for the perfect hiking route from Portland to the Oregon Coast. Thayer, an avid hiker, wanted an accessible trail through the Coastal Range that avoided highways and stayed on public land. After years of trekking through forests and creeks, he’s finally found it.
The secret to Thayer’s coastal trail? What he calls the “Blue Gate Rule.” Many logging roads along the route have blue gates, meaning they’re open to the public for recreational use.
“I don’t think it’s very well known at all,” says Thayer of the rule. “Discovering the fact that I had legal access to walk on these private lands was the key to opening up a walking route between Portland and the coast.
The route is remote — in some places, it’s so overgrown it’s hardly a trail at all — but that’s part of what drew Thayer to the idea in the first place. He loves to hike in wild places.
This is what Oregon was before we got here,” he says. And on the trail, “It’s still the original Oregon.”
Though the route is walkable, and in some places bike-able, from Forest Park to Seaside, it’s designed to be done in pieces. Thayer knows not everyone has the drive he does, to spend seven years traipsing through the woods looking for trails, but he wants everyone to enjoy the parts of Oregon he sees when he’s out hiking.
“I wanted to be able to provide people with an opportunity to stop on their way to the coast, go off of Highway 26,” he says. “It would take them into a part of the coast range that they’ve never seen before that’s absolutely beautiful.”
Want to hike or bike from Portland to the beach? Check out Thayer’s website.