Studies have shown that being in nature can improve your mental health, reduce stress, and lift your mood. One enjoyable and safe way to be close to the natural world is to use trails, which can enhance the quality of life in communities and at the same time minimize environmental impacts like air pollution and soil compaction.
Using trails also prevents erosion in nature and disturbing the wildlife.
Here, we compiled the best nature trails in Oregon you may want to pay a visit.
1. McDowell Creek Falls Trail
This 2.6-kilometer trail is a popular natural lovers’ destination located near Lebanon, Oregon that features a clear waterfall surrounded by viewing decks, campsites, RV spaces, picnic areas. (Note: Fishing and wading are allowed in the pools below the falls).
The trail is accessible year-round and is ideal for people who prefer a relatively non-strenuous walk on pathways, nature lovers who travel with children, hikers with furry companions (FYI, dogs must be on leash), and runners.
Meanwhile, a campground along the trail provides amenities like RV spaces, restrooms, and picnic areas.
2. Andrew Wiley Riverside Trail
Located in a 10-acre park at the base of Foster Dam on the bank of the South Santiam River, this trail is perfect for someone who is into watersports activities like fishing, paddling, water skiing, swimming, and boating. Meanwhile, its waters are stocked with rainbow trout every year by the South Santiam Fish Hatchery.
The trail is also dotted with picnic tables since it is located in a day-use park that attracts rare species like chinook salmon, northern spotted owl, steelhead, and western pond turtle.
Take note that the park’s proximity to Interstate 5 draws high traffic, especially in the summer months.
3. Quartzville Creek
Quartzville Creek features cascading waters, hiking trails, and undeveloped and developed campsites. Meanwhile, this hidden paradise was named for the gemstone mined in the nearby [ghost] town in the late 1800s.
Some portions of the park are open for recreational mining and “undeveloped” camping, which is limited to designated areas and is only available on a first-come, first-served basis.
When you visit this trail, you’ll be amazed by the views of the old-growth forest and its wildlife inhabitants.
4. Whitcomb Creek County Park
This county park is not just famous for its water activities like fishing, sailing, jet-skiing, and wakeboarding, but also for its nature trail that offers breathtaking views thanks to its thick old forest.
The 328-acre county park is also perfect for bird watching thanks to its ideal location–i.e., it is nestled deep within a protected forest in Green Peter Reservoir.
5. Making Your Hiking Experience Fun and Safe
Before you embark on your nature trail, make sure that you know these basic safety precautions to make your hiking experience fun and safe.
- Avoid venturing off the trail. This is not just about your safety but also about minimizing your impact on the environment and wild animals.
- Always hike with a companion.
- Always check the weather forecast.
- Stay hydrated and bring plenty of water.
- Check out the trail. Make sure that the tracks are within your physical capabilities. For instance, if you’re not in your best shape, you may want to stick to pathways with gentle slopes that are ideal for a casual stroll.
- Dress “correctly” for the weather.
- Bring a light snack for longer trails.
- If you’re with a furry companion, make sure that it is on a leash.