IDANHA — Some trails in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest remain closed because of damage from a wildfire that scorched the area last year.
The Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall Creek area near Eugene, also are closed because of the blaze.
Crews will work throughout the summer to clear trees and mend trails, officials said.
“We do want to get it open as soon as we can,” Detroit District ranger for the Willamette National Forest Grady McMahan said of the Whitewater Trail. He said that might be later this year, but more likely next year.
Repairing the trails will cost $73,500, Willamette National Forest officials said.
The fire burned more than 22 square miles (57 square kilometers) of forestland in the Cascades. The fire burned about 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) of trail near Jefferson Park, Willamette National Forest trail manager Brad Peterson said.
Trails damaged by the fire include a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which has since reopened.
Lightning in June 2017 sparked the fire about 300 feet (91.4 meters) up a ridge from the Whitewater Trail. It smoldered undetected for weeks.
“No one saw it, and people were hiking by it,” McMahan said.
Winds eventually fanned the flames, and fire crews first detected the blaze on July 23. The blaze burned until snow fell in the fall.
The Whitewater Trail is the shortest and easiest hike into the Jefferson Park area. Suzanne Cable, a recreation staff officer for the Willamette National Forest, said a couple of other trailheads also offer access to the area.
But the roads to the trailheads are rougher than the road to the Whitewater Trailhead, and the hikes cover more ground and take more time.
“They are just going to take a little longer, be a little harder,” Cable said.