The North Umpqua Trail (NUT) has provided us with a lesson in collaboration and creative problem-solving. The 79-mile National Recreation Trail is literally epic as the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has identified it as an “IMBA EPIC” because it is an iconic, adventurous, backcountry trail. It also serves as a backyard trail for the communities of Roseburg and Glide, Oregon.
But for the last two years, more than half of the trail has been closed or in poor condition due to wildfires and landslides that have resulted in burned bridges, downed trees, damaged tread, and other hazards. The 2020 Archie Creek Fire and the 2021 Jack Fire severely damaged 30 miles of the NUT. Another 16 miles, including the popular Dread & Terror segment, have sustained several landslides that impede travel along the trail.
One of the reasons why this trail is so epic is because of the challenging terrain. The trail traverses the steep North Umpqua River canyon from its headwaters in the wilderness to the raftable waters just above the town of Glide. However, this steep terrain makes post-fire recovery a complex problem, and thus why we must work creatively with our partners to bring back this iconic trail.
The National Forest Foundation has been working closely with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Umpqua National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Roseburg District, the agencies that manage the trail, to plan and fundraise for trail restoration, to facilitate collaboration between local and regional partners, and to implement trail recovery projects. Together, we have made great strides toward recovering the trail and have big plans for our next steps.
Here are a few highlights of our recent accomplishments:
- With funding from REI and Athletic Brewing, the NFF provided a grant to Phoenix School’s Oregon Youth Corps to dedicate a crew to the NUT in 2023.
- The NFF and USFS are collaborating to develop a robust volunteer program for the Umpqua National Forest so that community members can help recover the trails they love. Volunteers logged hundreds of hours on the trail in 2022.
- Thanks to grants from Oregon State Parks Recreational Trails Program, Roseburg Walmart, and additional funds from the USFS, the NFF replaced a burned trail bridge via helicopter in the fall of 2022. At the same time, the USFS replaced two other burned bridges on the NUT.
- The NFF is facilitating a group of twenty local and regional partners to collaborate on the post-fire recovery of recreational opportunities in the North Umpqua corridor.
Seven more trail bridges need to be replaced, and dozens of miles of trail need to be restored to a safe and sustainable condition. The USFS has received Federal Disaster Relief and Great American Outdoor Act funds for the work, but more is required to cover all the costs. The NFF is working hard to fundraise to fill in budget gaps so that we can get the NUT back to prime hiking, running, and riding conditions.
If you’d like to help restore the NUT, please consider donating to the Umpqua Stewardship Fund, or coming out for a volunteer day!
Cover photo by Freddy Rodriguez.
You now know that National Forests provide more hiking opportunities than any other public lands in the U.S. The NFF is determined to ensure this incredible resource is always available. Your unrestricted gift today can help us restore trails, improve safety, and much more. Please click here to make your gift today. Thank you!