Get Back to Nature – Urban Hikes
In Oregon, you can have an exciting city experience and get back to nature in the same trip – often in the same day. Most, if not all, major cities in Oregon offer nature trails and forested hiking areas close-by. Here are a few to get your wheels spinning.
Upper Deschutes River Trail, Bend
This 8.5-mile stretch of trail follows the Deschutes River, passing Lava Island Falls, Aspen Camp, Dillon Falls and ending at Benham Falls. Hikers might just spot a white-water rafter or two during summer months. Catch the trail at Meadow Camp, 7 miles southwest of Bend.
Hendricks Park Trail, Eugene
Close to the University of Oregon’s campus, this moderate-level, bark-covered trail makes for a great study break for students and easy getaway to nature for visitors. Founded in 1951, Hendricks Park is Eugene’s first city park. The trail takes you under a canopy of tall trees, through lush natural gardens, and winds around a rhododendron garden, which reaches peak bloom in April and May. The trail can vary in length up to 11 miles.
Lithia Park Woodland Trail, Ashland
Located within walking distance of downtown Ashland (and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Lithia Park Woodland Trail is part of a 100-acre National Historic Site. The one-mile, easy-level walking trail takes you past well-marked (there are small signs detailing what you see) flora and fauna in a beautiful wooded setting. While you’re there, make sure to sip from the fountain spouting pungent Lithia mineral water.
Wildwood Trail – Forest Park, Portland
An urban hiking story about Oregon would be incomplete without highlighting the magnificent 5,100-acre Forest Park, where 112 birds and 62 mammal species live among a massive canopy of trees and lush undergrowth—and it’s all just a short jaunt from downtown Portland. Hikers can walk along parts (or all) of the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, which has numerous access points and shorter loops along the trail. This is a true nature immersion within the city of Portland.
Lower Dan Loop, Chip Ross Park, Corvallis
For one of the best panoramic views of the quaint, tree-filled college town of Corvallis, head to Chip Ross Park, a local favorite that offers an easy-to-moderate 1.5 mile looping trail through a historic orchard and lush forest of old growth oak and pine trees. Be sure to stop at the top of the hill (700 ft. elevation) to take in some of the most spectacular views of Corvallis, the surrounding valley and mountains including the Coast and Cascade mountains. Chip Ross Park is a designated off-leash area for dogs and there are several picnic tables to take in the views.
If you’re up for a bigger challenge, take the strenuous Dan’s Trail that climbs 3 miles from Chip Ross to the top of Dimple Hill (1400 ft. elevation); and will take you through rich and dense forests of McDonald Dunn forest system and on a clear day offers memorable views as far south as Eugene.
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