Salem Area Trail Alliance, SATA, is a group of local outdoor enthusiasts who are increasing the number of feet of trails in the mid-Willamette Valley.  The goal, says President Jeff McNamee, is to create, extend, connect and sometimes maintain trails for biking, hiking and running.

“We currently have trail projects in various stages of development in and around Salem, Silverton and Dallas,” McNamee says, and on June 7, the group worked on a new hiker/biker trail that extends the Perimeter Trail of Silver Falls State Park.

In addition to this trail extension, McNamee says, “Our short-term trail building goals,” include “completion of a 4-5 mile network of trails at Spring Valley and Lincoln Access State Parks about 8 miles north of Salem… [and] a bike park and trail facility within Wallace Marine Park” in West Salem.

One completed project that is already getting daily use by Salem residents is the Croisan Scenic Trail, an oasis of tranquility in South Salem.  Beth Dayton, a SATA Board Member, worked for years to establish and maintain this 8/10th of a mile stretch of woods and glens between Keubler and Spring Street South.

“I love trails,” Dayton says.  “I’m a biker and a hiker, and it seemed like a great thing to have in our neck of the woods.  I thought it would be a great bike commute trail, too.” She hoped that it would keep bicycle commuters off the busy thoroughfares nearby.

The Croisan Scenic began in 2003 when Dayton noticed an “informal trail, in really bad shape” in her neighborhood “that had been used by people since about the 1970s.”

Dayton saw the potential there.  She first requested property maps from the City of Salem, to see if the land was privately owned.  Learning it was city land, Dayton worked with the city and her neighborhood association (“there were lots of meetings!”) and the City of Salem Parks Department.

“Between 2003 and 2006 I had to find others who would support the idea,” Dayton says.  “I located a couple of compatriots, and we actually went door to door to see who might be interested in helping, and it all culminated in a presentation to City Council.”

It was exciting when the city council signed a decision formally made Croisan Scenic Trail a City trail.  SATA was issued a Memorandum of Understanding, “a 6-page document that stated that we were responsible for maintaining the trail.”  The memorandum specified that the trail must be 3 feet wide, the type of surface it must have, the size of trees the group could cut, the size trees needed to ask the city to cut and many other details.

Dayton is thrilled with the result.  “You know, some people were worried that a trail might bring crime,” she says, “but now, many people use it every day.  I see them going on it, and the area is safer than ever.”

SATA is busy raising funds to reimburse a grant it received from the Oregon State Parks and Recreation to work on the trails in Spring Valley and Lincoln Access.

It is a welcoming group, McNamee says, and will continue to be.  “Salem residents are very interested in increasing urban trail capacity.  This excitement can be witnessed on the days we have held… trail work parties.”

The Croisan Scenic Trail is only the beginning of SATA’s projects that Salem Weekly will be reporting on.  Tune in for our next edition!