A new trail that ends in vistas of the north fork of Ecola Creek is open for hikers in the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve.
The city-owned 1,040-acre reserve in the lower Ecola Creek watershed contains the springs that are the citys primary water source.
Part of a phased plan to establish walking trails within the reserve for recreational use, the forest loop trail winds through wetlands, ferns and old growth forest.
Its a beautiful hike, and I encourage everyone to check it out, said City Manager Rich Mays.
The trail was laid out over the winter and constructed in the spring by public works staff members.
Hikers wanting to see the new trail should drive east on Elk Creek Road, past the entrance to the Cannon Beach RV Park. At the end of the road, vehicles can park at the graveled parking lot by the locked gate that marks the beginning of the reserve.
An entry kiosk just past the gate explains the reserve and its usage rules. An overhead map of the reserve also is available.
While dogs are permitted in the reserve, they are to be on a leash or under voice command at all times. Bags for cleaning up after hikers dogs are available at the entry point.
From that point, the forest loop trail is an easy mile walk up a winding gravel road.
Walking along the road gives hikers a chance to see property once under Weyerhaeuser ownership. New growth and saplings, along with carpets of ferns, are visible on the logged hillside to the west, while the creek winds along below the road to the east.
Eagles and other birds of prey can often be seen perched atop the tallest trees.
After a short uphill hike to the citys water treatment facility, the road re-enters the trees, and hikers cross a concrete bridge spanning Ecola Creek.
The new trail head lies about a quarter of a mile past the bridge on the left hand side of the road. It is clearly marked by a new signpost and a freshly laid carpet of wood chips.
The chips were put down by the citys public works department during the late spring to cover ground that had become muddy from rain.
After the rains, the trail was too muddy to walk on without the chips, Mays said.
The pathway winds upwards and takes in lush undergrowth and mossy trees that provide cover from all but the most determined of rainfall.
It makes one small crossing over a stream, and a rustic footbridge saves hikers from having to remove their shoes.
After 20 to 30 minutes, hikers come to an old service road where the wood chip carpet ends.
Walking to the right provides vistas of the north fork of Ecola Creek, while heading to the left loops back around the water treatment facility.
Its a great way to spend a day, Mays said.