3 Working Forests That Are Also Great Places to Play

June 24, 2016 (Updated July 28, 2016)

Did you now there is over 30 million acres of forest in Oregon? Of this, 11 million acres are managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry to produce wood, paper and other pulp-based products we use every single day.

In addition to adding $12 billion annually to Oregon’s economy and supporting more than 58,000 jobs, Oregon’s working forests are breathtakingly beautiful. Here are three fantastic working forests that are open for you and your family to explore:


Clatsop State Forest

Located in Astoria, Clatsop State Forest is brimming with rich history and recreational opportunities. In 1806 Meriwether Clark (of Lewis and Clark) described the forests of Clatsop County as “the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed!” Make the trek to the northwest corner of Oregon, and you’ll soon agree.

Among the handful of campgrounds in Clatsop State Forest, Northrup Creek Horse Camp provides accommodations for equestrians and their horses,  in addition to the usual RV and tent campers. The camp also is a trailhead for more than eight miles of forest trails.

For beginner hikers, the Steam Donkey Interpretive Trail is a short, easy hike. The trail features the remnants of an old steam donkey and railroad grade, giving you a glimpse of the logging industry of the 1800s.

ATV riders will love the Nicolai Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Area, which has 25 miles of trails for beginners and intermediates. Don’t forget your camera, because you’ll definitely want to snap of photos of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainer at resting points.

Download the Clatsop State Forest Recreation Guide.


Tillamook State Forest

The Tillamook State Forest is undeniable proof that Oregonians love their trees. Between 1933 and 1951, a series of forest fires in the Northern Oregon Coast Range, known collectively as the Tillamook Burn, destroyed a total of 355,000 acres of old growth timber. Since then, restoration efforts have accelerated with volunteers planting more than 72 million seedlings to date.

Today, the Tillamook State Forest has its own dedicated blog to showcase all the forest has to offer — which is a lot. In June 2016, the forest celebrated its second-annual Jeep Jamboree, in which more than 100 Jeep owners from all over North America explored Tillamook’s world-class four-wheel-drive trails. Inside the forest, you’ll also find a number of locations designated for target shooting practice.Every year hundreds of shooting enthusiasts improve their firearm skills at the Tillamook State Forest – while obeying specific target shooting regulations.

Tillamook State Forest has activities for every adventurer, whether you love to mountain bike, fish, swim, boat ride, picnic or simply want to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. This summer, special events include outdoor art installations, workshops on how to create jewelry from stones and historical storytelling about the Tillamook region.

Download the Tillamook State Forest Recreation Guide.


Santiam State Forest

Located about 30 miles east of Salem, Santiam State Forest is largely unknown by the masses, but definitely worth a trip. (That may be why it’s known as one of the best kept secrets of the northern Oregon Cascades.)

Revel in the secluded picnic spots, high mountain vistas, scenic waterfalls and lakes, campsites and trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

Hikers will enjoy the Rocky Top Trail, a short, rugged climb to the summit of Rocky Top. Once you reach the 5,000-foot summit, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters and Three-Fingered Jack.

Locals know Santiam State Forest has several beautiful hidden waterfalls open year-round to travelers on foot. The two-tiered Shellburg Falls plunges over 100 feet, while Butte Creek Falls features two sister waterfalls.

Download the Santiam State Forest Recreation Guide.

This is part of a four-part series brought in partnership the Oregon Department of Forestry, which promotes the stewardship of Oregon’s stunning, diverse forests. Discover how working forests benefit Oregonians from flood control and timber management, to nature conservation and community engagement by visiting ExploreOregonForests.org.

About The

Renée Zipp
Renée Zipp is a Corvallis, Oregon native who loves hiking, photography and participating in local community theatre. She is the Digital Marketing Specialist Lead for OSU’s Professional and Continuing Education.