The Oregon Coast Range: A Rails-to-Trails Paradise

The Oregon Coast Range (often referred to simply as the Coast Range) is mountain range spanning approximately 200 miles north-south from the Oregon-Washington border in the north to the coastal city of Bandon, OR (where the Coquille River drains into the Pacific) in the south. These biologically and geologically diverse — and I should add stunning — mountains span as few as 30 miles across at some points, and as far as 60 miles across at other points.

The range, formed as a result of volcanic activity nearly 66 million years ago, is part of a larger mountain-network known as the Pacific Mountain System that spans the length of the Pacific coast on the North American Continent, and is broken into three sections: North, Central, and South.

The range has five peaks that breach 3,000 ft (Marys Peak is the highest at 4,101 ft), and is drained by a vast network of over 30 rivers.

Most importantly, though, the region is striped with hiking and biking trails alike, with literally hundreds of options. And, thanks to Rails-to-Trails efforts continuing to gain momentum in the region, the Coast Range looks to have even more to offer.

The Oregon-American Lumber Company operated out of the Oregon Coast Range for the first half of the 20th Century (photo:

The region’s history with the logging industry — and the railway networks required to keep it going — is, ironically, what makes the area now such a haven for trailblazers, on bike or foot.

Paul Gerald, Portland-based hiking expert and author of the bestselling hiking guide to the area, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland, says he’s excited about what’s coming. “There’s talk of a new hiking trail going in, through a 16-mile canyon in the Coast Range following one of the decommissioned railway tracks,” Gerald told Trekalong. “I’m just sorry it won’t be completed for the next update to 60 Hikes.”

Gerald’s guidebook, published by Menasha Ridge Press, is scheduled for an update in May.

If you find yourself in area, you won’t have any trouble finding a beautiful hike through the Coast Range. Here’s some of what you’ll see:

Youngs River from Astoria Column (photo: M.O. Stevens)

Marys Peak, the Coast Range’s highest point (photo: USDA)

Trees in Lane County, OR (photo: Oregon State Archives)

Humbug Creek, Elsie, OR (photo: Ian Sane)

Warnicke Creek Falls, taken in 1975 (photo: NOAA)

Photo: View of the Coast Range from Saddle Mountain/Wikipedia


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Tanya Twerdowsky
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