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Cascade Head Trail on the Central Oregon Coast Gets a Facelift
Lincoln City

CascadeHead2The trail leading to The Nature Conservancy's Cascade Head Preserve, just north of Lincoln City, got some major upgrades this summer. Three new bridges were installed to replace old wooden bridges dating from the early 1980s. The new bridges, manufactured by E.T. Techtonics, are made of fiberglass reinforced plastic and are designed to last up to 50 years.

"We are very excited to have the new bridges in place," said Debbie Pickering, Oregon Coast stewardship ecologist for The Nature Conservancy, "and grateful to the National Forest Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and some very generous local donors for the funds to install these terrific bridges."

The National Forest Foundation, chartered by Congress, engages America in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million acre National Forest System, and accepts and administers private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests.

The installation of the new bridges marks the end of an era. According to Pickering, "Installing the new bridges was kind of bittersweet because they replace bridges installed by some very dedicated volunteers who maintained the trail from the 1960s to the 1980s."

One of the bridges replaced had a plaque recognizing Dr. Russell Maynard and Dr. Carl Petterson for their work in getting that bridge installed. "It was sad to see the Teal Creek Bridge come down, but I think that Russ and Carl would have recognized that its time had come" said Pickering. The plaque along with a portion of the old bridge was given to Dr. Petterson's widow, who still lives near the trail.

Cascade Head

Why You Should Visit

CascadeHeadCascade Head is a haven for rare plants, wildlife and grassland communities once abundant along the Oregon Coast. This spectacular coastal headland provides critical habitat for native prairie grasses, rare wildflowers and the Oregon silverspot butterfly.

Location

North of Lincoln City, south of Neskowin, in northwest Oregon.

Size

270 acres

How to Prepare for Your Visit

Each year more than 10,000 visitors hike the preserve for the views, wildflowers and wildlife. Please remember to leave dogs and mountain bikes at home. The preserve hosts ground-nesting birds and animals that are extremely sensitive to disturbance. For more information about how to prepare for your visit, please see the Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

Directions

CascadeHead3There are two trails on Cascade Head. To reach the lower trail, a more vigorous hike to the top of the headland, head N on US 101 from Lincoln City. Just N of the Salmon River, turn W on Three Rocks Road. At 2 miles, take the left fork and park in Knight Park. The trailhead begins there. It crosses through private and U.S. Forest Service property and over a narrow winding road. Please use caution and respect private property.

The upper trail, a more level one-mile hike to the upper viewpoint, is closed by the Forest Service from January 1 to July 15. To reach it, drive 2.4 miles N of the Salmon River almost to the summit of Cascade Head. Turn left on Cascade Head Road (U.S.F.S. Road 1861). Continue approximately 3.5 miles, bearing left when the road forks. (There is a U.S. Forest Service trail to Harts Cove at the end of this road.) The upper trailhead is marked by a small parking lot and sign. At the upper viewpoint, the trail drops steeply 500 feet to connect with the lower trail.

What to See: Plants

Formed by the uplift of underwater volcanic basalt flows, the headland is unusual for the extent of its prairies dominated by native species: red fescue, wild rye, Pacific reedgrass, coastal paintbrush, goldenrod, blue violet and streambank lupine. Ninety-nine percent of the world's population of the Cascade Head catchfly is found here. Hairy checkermallow is another rare flower found here.

What to See: Animals

The Oregon silverspot butterfly, federally listed as a threatened species, is known to only five other locations in the world. The butterfly depends on a single plant species, the early blue violet (which grows coastal grassland openings), to serve as food for its larvae. Elk, deer, coyote, snowshoe hare and the Pacific giant salamander frequent the preserve, while bald eagle, great horned owl, northern harrier, red-tail hawk and the occasional peregrine falcone soar in hunting forays over the grassy slopes.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

In the early 1960's, volunteers organized an effort to protect Cascade Head from development; by 1966 they had raised funds to purchase the property, after which they turned it over to The Nature Conservancy. Because of its ecological significance, Cascade Head Preserve and surrounding national forest and other lands have won recognition as a National Scenic Research Area and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Researchers are testing methods of maintaining and restoring grassland habitat for the Oregon silverspot butterfly, including prescribed fire. However, it takes a few years for the early blue violet -- the butterfly's host plant -- to reach maturity. As a "stop-gap measure," the Conservancy teamed up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lewis and Clark College and the Oregon Zoo to gather female silverspots for captive rearing. After being hatched and raised at the college and the zoo, their progeny are reintroduced as pupae to the preserve.

Conservancy ecologists also monitor the populations of rare plants throughout the year. In spring and summer, teams of volunteers remove invasive species (such as Himalayan blackberry), help maintain trails, assist with research projects and teach visitors about the preserve.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. In Oregon, the Conservancy owns or manages 47 nature preserves and has helped protect over 500,000 acres of important habitats, with support from more than 20,000 member households.

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