Don Cannard was born and raised in the Hazel Dell area of Vancouver WA. In elementary school, he enjoyed outdoor magazines. His father would occasionally take the family on camping and fishing trips for vacations. Ever since then, he has felt an affinity for nature. He attended University of Portland, where he met and married Sue Cannard. He worked as a principal for the Vancouver school district for 26 years and assisted in the set up of Vancouver’s first Outdoor school program in Camp Bonneville. He started construction on the Ellen Davis trail, an urban trail in Vancouver in 1972. He was the first president of Vancouver Audubon Society and co-founder of Silver Star Study Group, a multi-group effort to preserve Silver Star Mountain. He retired in 1982 and began to increase his focus on trail planning and building.
He and his friend Ed Robertson, another retired school administrator, hiked to the summit of Silver Star and together they envisioned a loop trail encircling the Columbia River Gorge. As a result of this vision, Chinook Trail Association was incorporated in 1988. For the last ten years, Don has been attending meetings, organizing work parties, writing grants and steering the organization with his vision. He is a member of Japanese Garden Society and Hosta Society Northwest. He is the primary liason between the Chinook Trail Association and the government organizations on whose land the trail will traverse and whose cooperation is necessary in order for the trail to become a reality.