Salem Area Trail Alliance

When I was first assigned to look into local trail-building for an article for Salem Weekly, I did not realize the amount of vital and vibrant work being done by ordinary citizens to actually construct trails from scratch in our community.

The Salem Area Trail Alliance (SATA) is responsible for creating numerous walking, hiking and biking trails out of sheer wilderness on unused, government-owned turf (with plans to expand to some private lands as well). The group of 60 can muster work parties of 20 to 30 to do heavy weekend labor on short notice.

And they are having an immediate impact. One member, Beth Dayton, told me how she changed the simple idea of wanting a path through a South Salem woods into a plan with the City of Salem and then, through vision and sweat and SATA volunteers, into the Croisan Scenic Trail that is used by thousands every year.

The Skyline Trail and Croisan Meadow Loop are other SATA efforts, designed by Salem’s Mark Wigg. The Skyline project comprises three miles of paths that loop through forest and glens, and it is in constant use by hikers, cyclists, runners and biology students from nearby Sprague High School.

Wigg says Skyline represents only a start. “Here in Salem, we have 600 acres of undeveloped parkland, just waiting for someone to decide to build a trail on it. And it’s so rewarding to do.”

Our community is alive with Salem Area Trail Alliance volunteers who are eager to do the hard work it takes to build trails for future generations to use and enjoy.

Contact Salem Area Trail Alliance


Salem Photo League member Helen Caswell is a local private investigator and a reporter for Salem Weekly.


SATA President Jeff McNamee moves earth in June on a new trail at Spring Valley Park along the west side of the Willamette River, eight miles north of Salem. The goal is to create a five-mile bike trail on forested land. The group expects to finish in 2015.

Mark Wigg visits Skyline Loop Trail, which he designed, in South Salem. It is used by bikers, hikers, cross-country runners and others who just want to take a stroll.

Brian Quigley and Michael Preston dig deep to remove roots from the ground during a trail-building work party in August at Silver Falls State Park.

The gang rolls a log into place at Silver Falls. The log will reinforce the outside trail edge for years to come.

The SATA crew requires heavy equipment to carve out the trail at Silver Falls.

The foliage that trail-builders dread: Willamette Valley poison ivy.

Ryan Smoots clears brush and ferns with a weed-whacker at Silver Falls.

Ten people and one hour of work equals 20 yards of trail in Silver Falls State Park.

Paul Prough, leader of the Silver Falls team, takes a break after a hard day’s work.