The author of this website discourages trespassing on private land that has been closed to public access. However, in the backcountry you will encounter situations where it is unclear whether it is legal to continue down a road. This typically occurs when "private property - no trespassing" signs are placed in an ambiguous manner. While we don't want to trespass, we also don't want to mistakenly conclude that we can't use a road that is legal to use. To avoid mistakes, I recommended becoming familiar with Oregon's trespassing law and how to interpret ambiguous signs (see below). In addition, the following sources of information can be useful:

Oregon state trespassing law

The following is the relevant state trespassing law: ORS 105.700 - Prohibiting public access to private land, which reads:

(1) In addition to and not in lieu of any other damages that may be claimed, a plaintiff who is a landowner shall receive liquidated damages in an amount not to exceed $1,000 in any action in which the plaintiff establishes that:

(a) The plaintiff closed the land of the plaintiff as provided in subsection (2) of this section; and

(b) The defendant entered and remained upon the land of the plaintiff without the permission of the plaintiff.

(2) A landowner or an agent of the landowner may close the privately owned land of the landowner by posting notice as follows:

(a) For land through which the public has no right of way, the landowner or agent must place a notice at each outer gate and normal point of access to the land, including both sides of a body of water that crosses the land wherever the body of water intersects an outer boundary line. The notice must be placed on a post, structure or natural object in the form of a sign or a blaze of paint. If a blaze of paint is used, it must consist of at least 50 square inches of fluorescent orange paint, except that when metal fence posts are used, approximately the top six inches of the fence post must be painted. If a sign is used, the sign:

(A) Must be no smaller than eight inches in height and 11 inches in width;

(B) Must contain the words “Closed to Entry” or words to that effect in letters no less than one inch in height; and

(C) Must display the name, business address and phone number, if any, of the landowner or agent of the landowner.

(b) For land through which or along which the public has an unfenced right of way by means of a public road, the landowner or agent must place:

(A) A conspicuous sign no closer than 30 feet from the center line of the roadway where it enters the land, containing words substantially similar to “PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING OFF ROAD NEXT _____ MILES”; or

(B) A sign or blaze of paint, as described in paragraph (a) of this subsection, no closer than 30 feet from the center line of the roadway at regular intervals of not less than one-fourth mile along the roadway where it borders the land, except that a blaze of paint may not be placed on posts where the public road enters the land.

(3) Nothing contained in this section prevents emergency or law enforcement vehicles from entering upon the posted land.

(4) An award of liquidated damages under this section is not subject to ORS 31.725 (Pleading punitive damages), 31.730 (Standards for award of punitive damages) or 31.735 (Distribution of punitive damages).

(5) Nothing in this section affects any other remedy, civil or criminal, that may be available for a trespass described in this section. [1999 c.933 §1]

Unambiguous signs

Price Creek Road

Obvious private property

Both of the above signs are not ambiguous. The sign on the left is located at the west end of Price Creek Road in Kings Valley (location: 44.676783, -123.405974). This sign meets the criteria under state law for properly informing the public that the road is closed to access. The sign on the right is on a gate of a fenced-in field. Even though the sign does not meet the criteria under state law, this is obviously private property and we should stay out.

Price Creek Road is an interesting case. If you approach this spot from the east, you will not see any signs indicating that the road is closed to public access. Thus, it might be possible that under state law that one would be trespassing if headed east but not if headed west, but please don't take this as legal advice. Property ownership data from both Benton County and Gaia.gps show that about 4.6 miles of this road to the east of this sign are owned by the same company.

Ambiguous signs

Skillings Road

Logging road south of Newport

The sign on the left is on Skillings Road on the west side of Corvallis (location: 44.596161, -123.344641) and is placed where the portion of the road owned by the county crosses onto land owned by Starker Forests. If you have a Starker permit you may continue down this road to their Alder Creek Tree Farm. This is one of the most common routes that people use to get to McCulloch Peak. Someone has tacked a "private property - no trespassing" sign to the road sign, and there is another sign like it further down the road tacked to a tree on the left. These signs pertain to the private property on either side of the road, but not to the road itself. However, it would be easy for someone to conclude that the road is entirely closed to public access.

The sign on the right is on a logging road south of Newport as you head south (location: 44.561214, -124.029986). It has been tacked to a tree and there are no signs on the gate itself prohibiting entry. The sign does not meet criteria under state law for indicating that the land is closed to public entry. It is unclear whether the sign is intended to apply only to the land to the side of the road or also to the road itself. When approaching this spot from the south there are no signs indicating a closure to public access. Property ownership data from both Lincoln County and Gaia.gps show that this property is owned by Starker Forests. I plan on contacting them to inquire about access. This road makes it possible to ride from Newport to North Beaver Creek Road without using Hwy 101 (see the "Backdoor to Newport" route).