Astoria Forest Trails
In 2006, the city of Astoria created a Master Trail Plan for the forest lands surrounding the Astoria Column. Dan Miller, a Community Planner with the Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance Program worked with the city of Astoria, CREST, and the Oregon Department of Forestry to inventory the existing trails as a foundation of what could be a fun multi-use trail system that could link into ODF lands and create a larger trail system. At the time, there were about 12miles of trail up there.
Unfortunately the big storms a few years ago destroyed much of the existing trails, but the opportunity remains. It is our goal to provide an easily accessible outlet to this already public information, and hopefully mobilize and act on it.
Executive Summary (word doc)
Trail Plan (word doc)
Planning Team (word doc)
Questionnaire Results (word doc)
The Astoria City Council developed a goal for the 2005-06 fiscal year to pursue park/trail creation or enhancement of existing trails. City staff also had many requests from the public over the past several years to develop trail directional maps, install trail signage, develop new trails, and improve trail maintenance. To help meet the Council’s goal a Trails Master Plan Advisory Committee which was appointed by the Mayor began a Trails Master Planning Process in July 2005. The Trails Master Plan Advisory Committee was chaired by the Parks and Community Services Director and consisted of representatives from the Columbia River Estuary Study Task Force, Oregon Department of Forestry Clatsop State Forest, and a citizen advisory committee comprised of local residents representing all types of trail users. A grant of technical assistance was secured from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to help the City undergo the planning process.
The Trails Master Plan Advisory Committee and City Staff developed the Trails Master Plan Report by gathering public input from Astoria citizens at a public open house, developing and distributing a trails questionnaire, providing update reports to the Parks Advisory Board and City Council, conducting five advisory committee work sessions, and meeting with trail user groups. In addition, the Trails Master Plan Committee met with public landowners who owned land adjacent to the Astoria Urban Forest to update them on the City’s trail plans and solicit their input on trail issues.
- A total of 21.64 miles of trails were inventoried and mapped within the boundaries of the City of Astoria forest lands
- 12.37 miles of trail have been designated as primary trails, these are trails the committee recommends to sign and better maintain
- The Astoria Urban Forest contains approximately 970 acres of land
- The Oregon Department of Forestry is currently developing a recreational plan for the Astoria Basin that is adjacent to the Astoria Urban Forest
- Both motorized and non-motorized trail use is occurring in the Astoria Urban Forest
- Directional trail signage is severely lacking on the trails within the City of Astoria
- Volunteers and donations/grants will need to be the primary sources to develop a future trail maintenance and construction program
- Trail maps and brochures will need to be developed to help direct users to the trail system
- Trail user groups will need to be organized to help enforce trail rules and regulations
- Motorized and non-motorized areas will need to be developed to help reduce trail user conflicts, and ensure that the Urban Forest’s current natural environment is protected for future generations
- The Trails Master Plan Advisory Committee and Staff recommend the following:
- Prioritized trails should be maintained and developed first (See map for primary trail designation)
- Encourage the Oregon Department of Forestry Clatsop State Forest to develop trails and routes for all users but particularly for mountain bikers and motorized trail bikes on state land adjacent to the Astoria Urban Forest
- Develop a Trail Safety Program by recruiting trail users and trail user groups to help educate the public about trail policies and trail regulations. Park staff will provide trail maps and equipment to the Fire and Police Departments to assist with medical emergencies.
- Develop the trail system in phases
Install trail directional signage on prioritized trails and decommission trails slated for closure due to private property or environmental/maintenance concerns. Begin to install non-motorized signage on the designated trails. Develop a trail map and brochure to educate the public about where they can hike in the Urban Forest.
Study the use and potential trail linkages of neighborhood trails throughout the City. Continue to review and evaluate the proposed multiple use study area on the east side of the Urban Forest.
Begin construction of new trails and develop new trail heads and parking areas.
It should be noted that phase one and two will take a relatively short amount of time to complete while phase three will probably take many years to complete.
January 20, 2006 Trail Plan for Astoria Urban Forest Trail System
Astoria Trails Master Plan Report
This document was developed by the Astoria Urban Forest Trail System core planning team, which was chaired by City of Astoria and consisting of representatives from CREST, ODF Clatsop State Forest, and a citizen advisory committee comprised of local residents representing all types of trail users. In addition, technical assistance and planning guidance was provided by the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service (NPS).
Funding for this project was provided by the City of Astoria, and a grant from the Department of Land Conservation and Development. The project also received student assistance from the Clatsop Community College Upward Bound program.
Contained below is the summary of the recommendations stemming from the discussions of the core planning team. It is organized around topics or issues that the core planning team addressed over the course of a year’s worth of inventorying and planning meetings.
Currently, 21.64 miles of trails have been inventoried within the boundaries of the City of Astoria forest lands. Of those, only two were officially recognized by the City, the Cathedral Tree Trail and the Astoria Riverwalk. The remainder are unofficial, user-made trails. About half of the trails are located on old gravel and dirt logging roads. Many of the trails on the City’s lands were ‘pioneered’ by motorized trail bikes (motorcycles). This is particularly the case on the eastern half of the City’s property. However, there are also several trails in the Urban Forest that were developed by hikers and mountain bikers.
The proposed trail system is located on public lands. All trails found to go from public land to privately owned lands are slated to be closed or rerouted back onto public lands.
Clatsop State Forest
As mentioned in the Allowable Uses section, Clatsop State Forest has a much greater diversity of opportunity due to their large land-base. The planning team strongly recommends that the City encourage Clatsop State Forest to develop trails and routes for all users but particularly for mountain bikers and motorized trail bikes. These two user types are looking for more mileage than the City’s lands can provide. In addition, Oregon Department of Forestry has the experience of managing motorized recreation and has done so effectively in other parts of the state including the Tillamook State Forest.
Parking Areas & Trailheads
In the early stages of the trail system, it does not make sense to construct a special parking area for trail users. Instead, it is recommended that the Astoria Column, which has adequate parking and restrooms, be used as the main trailhead for the trail system. The trailhead off of Irving Avenue will also continue to be used for the Cathedral Tree Trail.
If the use of the trail system warrants more parking, the city should consider developing a second parking area at the end of James Street near the beginning of Pipeline Road. This would provide access to the Cathedral Tree Trail as well as the majority of the trail system. This parking area could also serve as a trailhead for the Clatsop State Forest lands and trails that might be developed in the future. An alternate parking area could also be developed at the end of Franklin Street or at the end of Spruance providing Emerald Heights is amenable. A restroom and trash receptacle should be considered at one of these additional parking areas.
Many of the residents of Astoria will not drive to a parking area to access the trail system. Instead, they will go to the trail that is closest to their homes. These community access points need to have adequate signage to let people know what trail users are allowed on the particular trail(s) as well to communicate other rules and regulations. Signage should be low key enough to not attract outside visitors, who should be steered to the main parking area(s). The City should check to ensure that these neighborhood access points provide legal access to the trail system.
Management & Maintenance
Management of the Trail System
The City of Astoria will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the trails within the City’s properties. However, the City (through the Parks and Community Services Department) will actively work with volunteers to perform much of the needed trail work.
It is recommended that a trail safety program be developed. The Trails Advisory Committee recommends that trail users, and trail user groups be recruited to help educate the public about trail policies and rules. Park Staff will also provide the Astoria Fire and Police Departments with updated trail maps so that they will have better trail access information. The Parks Department will also make available to the police and fire department their two wheel drive maintenance utility vehicle for emergency rescues if needed.
It is envisioned that volunteers will be utilized for the majority of the annual maintenance, reroutes and new construction within the proposed trail system. Astoria Parks and Community Services will train and coordinate all trail volunteers. Prior to work, volunteers will clear all projects with the Parks and Community Services Department before beginning. Volunteers will log all hours and report them to the Parks Department. In addition, the adopt-a-trail program (clubs, organizations, and businesses accept maintenance responsibilities for a particular trail for a specific amount of time) will be utilized to ensure regular on-going maintenance of the trail system.
In the trail inventory and planning phases, the advisory committee developed a prioritized list of the most important trails of the system. They received priority status due to there access potential, maintenance level, and natural beauty. These are the trails that maintenance efforts should focus on particularly in times of inadequate funding/ability. These trails should also be the first trails to receive signage.
Implementation of Plan
The trail system has been designed to be developed in the following phases:
The first phase will involve installation of trail signs on the prioritized trails and decommissioning of trails slated for closure due to private property or environmental/maintenance concerns. It is recommended that a trail signage program be implemented during the summer months of 2006. The trail signage program should primarily consist of signs that will denote trail heads, directional signage and non-motorized use areas. Once the initial trail signage program is in place a trail map and brochure will be developed to help educate the public about where they can hike in the Urban Forest.
The second phase will involve continuing to study the use and potential trail linkages of neighborhood trails throughout the City. The proposed multiple use study area on the east side of the Urban Forest will also need to be further studied and evaluated before it can be developed.
The third phase will involve the construction of the recommended new trails and developing a new trail head and parking area. It should be noted that phase one and two will take a relatively short amount of time while phase three will probably take many years to complete. Construction of trails in the third phase will be driven by the availability of volunteer labor and funds to construct the trail(s). All trail construction will be done to appropriate trail standards and will be cleared by the Parks and Community Services Department.
The trail system has been planned with the intention of securing private donations and federal, state and local grant monies. It is envisioned that very little funds from the City will be available for the development and major maintenance of the trail system.
Trail User Maps
A map for the Astoria Trail System will be created at no cost to the City of Astoria by CREST and the National Park Service. The map will be created for trail users and will show all trails and routes. In addition to the trails, land manager & trail manager contact information will be listed, tread lightly, low impact trail use, and other useful information will be shown on the map. The trail planning team recommends that the map be sold for $2-$5 per unit. These funds should be used to cover the costs of reprints of future maps and could be used to cover some of the maintenance/management costs. In addition, the City will make the map available free on the City website.
Types of Trail Use Defined
Multiple Use (Hiker, Biker, Motorcycle, ATV’s)
Non-motorized (Hiker, biker only)
All of the trails within the Astoria Urban Forest Trail System will be open to non-motorized users. This means that trails will be constructed and maintained to accommodate hikers and mountain bikers. However, the Cathedral Tree Trail will remain a hiker trail for foot traffic only. There may be a need to limit mountain bike use in the future depending upon conflict and maintenance issues.
The trail planning team recognizes that there is an established use of motorcycles on the trails within and adjacent to City property. In developing this plan, the planning team feels it is important to provide trail opportunities for these motorized users. However, due to the proximity of the City’s lands to the residents of Astoria and the relatively small size of the City’s land-base, the planning team feels it is more appropriate for motorized use to be developed within Clatsop State Forest properties. The Oregon Department of Forestry is better equipped to construct and maintain motorcycle trails and has a history of doing so throughout the state. Furthermore, Clatsop State Forest’s large land-base is more conducive to providing the trail opportunities that this user type is looking for.
Therefore, the planning team believes it is important for the City, ODF and motorized users to work together to plan and develop trail opportunities that are appropriately located on ODF lands. Still, it will be important for the City to provide through access for motorcycle trail riders to get from the City of Astoria to Clatsop State Forest lands. In order to do this, the trail planning team recommends that the road from the end of James Street to Pipeline Road and the road from the upper end of Emerald Heights to Pipeline Road be left open to motorcycle trail users.
In addition, because it could take several years to develop routes within Clatsop State Forest lands, the planning team would like to create a multiple use study area for the eastern section of the trail system. This is where the majority of historical use has been located on City lands and provides increased access for motorized trail riders to get from the City into ODF lands. Once trail opportunities have been created on ODF lands, the City could consider converting these trails to non-motorized use as well. There are still several critical issues to work out prior to officially sanctioning motorcycle use on these trails. These include:
- Adjacent landowner concerns
- Legal access to the trails from various streets on City land
- Ability to maintain these trails
Trail System Sign Plan
- Low Cost, Durable, Ease in Instillation
- Ease in User Understanding & Able to Effectively Inform Users of Important Information
To meet the above objectives the committee recommends the installation of flexible/impact resistant post signs (fiberglass reinforced polyester posts with signage decals). In addition to the post signs, wooden or metal trail head marker signs should be developed.
Types of Signs Needed
The following different types of signs will be needed to ensure that the public is provided adequate information when interfacing with the trail system:
- Trailhead/Parking Area Signs
- Trail Intersection Signs
- Types of Trail Usage Allowed
- Map Locator Signs
Trail Closed/Private Property Signs