Oregon park reopens two years after wildfire

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Mt Jefferson trail reopens after wildfire
Mt Jefferson trail reopens after wildfire

One of the most popular treks to Mount Jefferson in Oregon is back open. It’s more than two years since a wildfire shut off public access.

The U.S. Forest Service announced Wednesday night that the Whitewater Trail in central Oregon has officially reopened to the public.

The trail was heavily damaged by a wildfire July, 2017, which prompted its closure. A lightning strike started the Whitewater fire, which smoldered for weeks before wind picked up the flames. The fire ultimately burned more than 22 square miles of forest, cooling down only when snow began to fall months later.

The Whitewater trail is one of the most popular ways to access Jefferson Park, a spectacular natural setting at the base of Mount Jefferson. Hikers and backpackers can make the 11-mile round-trip excursion from the Whitewater Trailhead, located 70 miles east of Salem.

In 2018, Willamette National Forest officials estimated the cost of repairing the trail at $73,500. Officials had hoped to reopen it earlier this year, but in May they extended the closure to clean up more trees that died over the winter and spring.

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Read the original story by  Jamie Hale in the Oregonian.

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