This is the list I wish that I had when I first moved to Oregon six years ago. I compiled my top ten favorite Oregon hikes, sort of in order, but not really because I love them all! They are all within a few hours driving distance of the Willamette Valley and I would say most are moderate difficulty.
I’ll do another post with some hiking tips, but most of these hikes are generally pretty busy so I’d recommend hitting the trail pretty early, especially in the summer when it gets hot. Always bring more water than you think you need, some snacks, and a first aid kit. And please, I beg of you, from one human to another, leave no trace. Don’t leave your wrappers, don’t feed your almonds to the cute little chipmunks, and don’t steal that cool looking sign from the trailhead. Without further ado, here are my ten favorite hikes!
All the distance/elevation information is from the AllTrails app. I use AllTrails for all of my hikes. The narrative piece about each hike, however, is allllll yours truly.
Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain
6.8 miles round trip, 1,700 ft elevation gain
This is a more recent hike I’ve done and holy moly, it shot to the top of my rankings. Shortly into the hike you arrive at Mirror Lake, pictured above, which has a killer view of Mt. Hood. As you ascend you get some sneak peeks of Mt. Hood again only to be blown away at the top. You can see five mountains from the top (Hood, Jefferson, Adams, St. Helen, and Rainer) on a clear day.
This hike is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest and requires a Northwest Forest pass to park at the trailhead.
6.4 miles round trip, 800 ft elevation gain
Opal Creek is a truly unique hike. It’s not particularly difficult and it provides a unique look into an old mining town. You hike along Opal Creek for most of the hike until you reach Jawbone Flats, an abandoned mining town. You’ll encounter old mining equipment along the way and old structures, cars, and tools.
Opal Creek is located in the Willamette National Forest, and requires a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
3.9 miles round trip, 1,500 ft elevation gain
Black Butte is a gem in Central Oregon. The hike inclines enough to make you sweat, but is gradual enough for families or beginning hikers. Views abound all the way up, and the top boasts some old fire towers and views of the whole state, including the Three Sisters mountains. There’s some friendly chipmunks up there; don’t let them trick you into giving up your snacks.
Black Butte is located in the Deschutes National Forest and requires a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
Angel’s Rest (Currently Closed)
4.0 miles round trip, 1,500 ft elevation gain
Angel’s Rest is one of the first hikes I ever did in Oregon and it’s my go-to for taking visitors. Located in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, Angel’s Rest is a great viewing point of the Columbia River (and the state of Washington right on the other side of the river). Not too far from Portland, this is a great hike for any visitor.
Smith Rock Misery Ridge Trail
5.5 miles round trip, 1,700 ft elevation gain
Smith Rock State Park, located in Central Oregon, is one of my favorite places in the world. The photo above is a view not too far from the parking lot, but the Misery Ridge hike will take you to the top of the rocks on the right. It gets hella hot in Central Oregon so you would definitely want to start this hike early in the morning.
As a state park, there is a parking pass that can be purchased at the trail head.
Tamolitch Blue Pool
3.7 miles round trip, 305 ft elevation gain
Blue Pool is about as picturesque as it comes. The fairly easy hike leads you to a stunning turquoise pool. The waterfall pictured is not always active, I hear, but I saw it when I visited. People do jump in and swim but the water is far too cold for me to consider jumping in. Enjoy amazing views of the McKenzie River along the trail.
Blue Pool is located in the Willamette National Forest, and requires a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
5.2 miles, 1,300 ft elevation gain
This hike, nestled near the town of Silverton, surely requires hiking boots. The bummer part of this hike is that you go down first, and do the incline on your way out. You climb down into a ravine and hike along a low river, ending up at these incredible falls. When I was there last fall, there was a couple getting married, and a man proposing to his girlfriend. Guess it’s a romantic spot!
Abiqua Falls is located on private land and does not require any parking pass.
4.5 miles round trip, 1,700 ft elevation gain
Saddle Mountain is located not too far from Seaside and Astoria on the coast. It is a fairly difficult hike that rewards you with views of the Pacific Ocean. Be prepared for some slight disappointment when you get through some tough uphill, only to come up to the saddle where you’ve got to go down and waaaay up again.
There is no fee for day use at Saddle Mountain.
1.5 miles (ish) round trip, 700 ft elevation gain
Spencer Butte is right in Eugene and provides awesome views, both in the fog and on a clear day, as seen above. This trail is usually pretty busy due to its ease and beauty.
There is no fee for day use at Spencer Butte.
5.2 miles round trip, 1,500 ft elevation gain
Mary’s Peak is the highest peak in the Oregon coast range. On a clear day at the top you can peep some views of the coast and the valley. Pro tip: you can also drive all the way to the top if you want the views without the work.
Mary’s Peak is located in the Siuslaw National Forest, and requires a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
Hopefully this has provided you with some guidance of where to begin (or continue) your hiking adventures in Oregon. All of these photos were taken by me (or my hiking buddies) and writing this post has made me feel all sorts of gratitude for this beautiful state I live in.
Thanks for reading! Check back soon.