The state of Oregon offers such a varied landscape that an outdoors enthusiast will never tire. From the rocky coast line to the Cascade Range and the high desert, hiking Oregon has enough options to keep an adventurer satisfied for a lifetime. But if you only have a few weeks or you’re looking for that perfect day-trip, here are four of the best Oregon trails that you don’t want to miss.
Devils Peak, Mt. Hood
Less than an hour outside of Portland is Mt. Hood National Forest, which offers an infinite number of trails and camping opportunities. After living here for several years, one of my favorite hikes of all time is to Devils Peak. Here there is an old fire lookout cabin that’s been non-operational for 25 years. But it’s still available if you want to spend the night on a first come, first serve basis. Can’t say the amenities are all that plush as everything about the cabin is maintained by volunteers and the generosity of those passing through. You can reach the peak by a 3-mile roundtrip or take the hard way and leave from the Ranger Station on the nearby highway. At the top, you’ll be rewarded by some of the most magnificent views of the Mt. Hood forest you can ever imagine.
Three Sisters, Bend
On the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range lies Oregon’s fastest growing region in Bend. This is an outdoorsman’s paradise, with easy access to rivers, mountains and wildlife. One of the most popular local challenges here is to scale the Three Sisters. This distinct set of dormant volcanoes separates itself from volcanic activity that formed other tall peaks in the area, such as nearby Mt. Bachelor, as the Three Sisters are the closest grouping of volcanoes in the Cascades. For the easiest climb, take on South Sister and for the more advance the North Sister should make for a good challenge. Every year those insane enough attempt what’s called the 3 Sisters Marathon, an ascent of all three peaks in one day.
Willamette National Forest, McKenzie River
For a beautiful trail that’s less crowded and easily accessible for the whole family, the Sahalie and Koosah Falls trails in the Willamette National Forest are some of the best around. This easy hike along the West Cascades National Scenic Byways along Hwy 126 offers pound for pound some of the best waterfalls you’ll find in one area. With ancient bridges crossing the river, the trail winds through a lush forest with cascading falls like a scene from a Disney fairy tale. You can almost picture the toad stools coming to life. Also in these parts, be sure to make a stop at any number of the nearby hot springs such as Cougar and Deer Creek Hot Springs.
Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast
With so many options along the Oregon coast it can be hard to choose. For starters, decide early that the rain is not going to dampen your fun, because chances are it’s going to be raining. No matter the weather, one of the most spectacular coastal trails that I always brought visitors time and again is at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach. Once visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the day-hike that’s most stunning is the Tillamook Head trail which leads out and back along a towering cliff top opening up on some of the most amazing views of the Oregon coast. The trail might be muddy and it can test your fear of heights, but man is it worth it for such a view. At the point you can spy a look at the Tillamook Head light house, which rests precariously from a bygone era.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons