YACHATS — A historic and spiritually significant trail in Yachats is closer to having a long-needed suspension bridge that will allow hikers to stay well above waters capable of turning a narrow canyon into sudden mudflows.
Area residents and Oregon State Parks officials have poured countless hours into bringing the Amanda Trail into existence and raising its historical stature. Private individuals have passed the hat for a total of $29,000 for the bridge project. The OPRD has $25,600 dedicated to bridge design, and a wide variety of donors — from the City of Yachats to local tribes, the Lincoln Land Legacy Project and the Cape Perpetua Trails Fund — have infused the initiative with cash.
The $276,000 bridge will span 145 feet, bringing hikers from the south along the 3.2-mile trail through dense stands of spruce and to the edge of a grotto dedicated to the blind Coos Indian woman for whom the trail is named. To reach this place tucked into the north flank of Cape Perpetua, hikers currently navigate a temporary bridge put in place after a wintertime mudslide tore through the canyon in 2015, sweeping away a statue of Amanda De Cuys and a 62-foot long fiberglass bridge.
Joanne Kittel is an adjoining landowner who has donated property to the trail and is a key player in a group which has made the trail a passion project. Kittel is donating another 2.5 acres of easement to allow parks officials to maintain the bridge in the future.
“Amanda Trail has become a destination for many not only for its beauty, but very importantly, it depicts our local First Nation history,” Kittel said. “With its gathering area, statue of Amanda and link for the Oregon Coast Trail, the entire trail has become a solemn, spiritual and healing trail that is loved and stewarded by many.”
The next key step is up to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Roughly $206,000 would be reimbursed by FEMA with OPRD and other charitable donations covering the remaining,” said Jeffrey Wagner, OPRD’s construction project manager for the coastal region, in an email.
“We are still awaiting FEMA support and approval of the project as the original scope to replace the bridge in-kind with another fiberglass bridge on the same alignment/abutments has changed substantially,” he said. “We designed the suspension bridge to a higher elevation on the trail system to mitigate future damage in subsequent log debris flows,” he said.
The bridge’s deck height will be about 20 feet above the creek bed at midpoint — well above mudslides that happen every 5-10 years from upland logging operations, Wagner said.
The goal is to get FEMA approval and start on design within the next couple of months, he said. On that timeline, the bid would be awarded by mid to late summer with construction on the bridge in September. The Angell Job Corps is set to do hazardous tree removal along the alignment next month.
For those who would like to donate to the Amanda Trail Suspension Bridge Project, tax-deductible donations can be sent to View the Future, PO Box 443, Yachats OR. 97498. Write Amanda Trail in the memo. Or, donations can be given online at www.viewthefuture.org. Additional information about Yachats Trails can be found on www.yachatstrails.org