: Travel Oregon

7 Easy Wildflower Walks in Oregon

Stop and smell the flowers on these level, family-friendly paths.
March 27, 2023

From the indigo blooms of camas in the Willamette Valley to balsamroot’s vivid yellow along the John Day River, Oregon’s spring blossoms are an annual delight. Even if your family can’t take a long hike out to alpine meadows, many trails and natural areas allow just about anyone to access flowery beauty within a short distance of a parking lot. Here are seven easy, flat trails that are good for all ages and most abilities.

A field of camassia blue and pink flowers.
Wildflowers come into bloom in the meadows of Cammasia Natural Area in West Linn. Courtesy of mthoodterritory.com

Historic Camas Flowers in the Portland Area

The Nature Conservancy’s 26-acre Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, just over a dozen miles south of Portland, is a remnant of the prairie and oak-savanna landscapes that covered the Willamette Valley before white settlers arrived. The roughly half-mile, narrow and mostly boardwalk loop trail takes visitors along basalt bluffs overlooking the Willamette River, near Willamette Falls. The boardwalk is at times uneven and unsuitable for strollers or wheelchairs, so take note. More than 300 plant species grow here, like creamy white star-shaped fawn lily, trillium and the site’s namesake, Camassia, or camas, which carpets the preserve in purple in late April and May. Visit a similar landscape at Canemah Bluff Nature Park, a 10-minute drive across the Willamette River in Oregon City, where camas grows along short, accessible trails near a playground and basketball hoops.


Field of blue wildflowers
A field on Mount Pisgah blooming with blue camas flowers. Courtesy of Melanie Griffin / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

Meandering Trails Near Eugene and Mt. Hood

Mount Pisgah Arboretum, southeast of downtown Eugene, offers a variety of short, accessible walks through wetland, prairie and oak-savanna habitats with lots of showy wildflowers, like camas, lupine and an abundance of deep-purple, tall larkspur best seen from late April to early May. The park recently improved accessibility along the roughly 1.5-mile riverbank and wetland loop trails that are now good for strollers or wheelchairs. In May enjoy guided nature walks and a display of native plant species at the annual Wildflower & Music Festival.

Accessible boardwalks and 2.5 miles of paved trails meander through 550 acres of moss-laden trees and wetlands along the Wild and Scenic Salmon River at Wildwood Recreation Site, off of Highway 26 near Welches. In late March and continuing through June, skunk cabbage, trillium, salmonberry, wild iris, bleeding heart and rhododendron brighten the forest. Look and listen for migrating songbirds flitting through willows along the ¾-mile boardwalk loop, and check out the underwater stream-viewing window to see salmon-spawning habitat, a separate ¾–mile paved loop trail. 

Even just the drive up to Rowena Plateau is worth it, as visitors are immediately greeted by stunning views of the Columbia River, towering basalt cliffs and a plateau blanketed by yellow balsamroot, purple lupine and magenta grass widow. This trail can be either a 2-mile loop along the plateau or just a short jaunt not far from the parking area. The loop trail descends 240 feet that you regain heading back, so it might be best on foot.

Wild and Scenic Riverside Flowers in Eastern Oregon

Cottonwood Canyon State Park lines a particularly stunning stretch of the Wild and Scenic John Day River, about 45 miles southeast of The Dalles. Come late April and May, balsamroot, lupine and golden currant brighten the sagebrush landscape within the more-than-8,000-acre park.  Visitors can traverse less than a mile — or more than five — along several riverside routes along flat, easy trails. Note that paths aren’t paved, and rocky sections may make them best suited for those on foot. Wildflower viewing is best along the Hard Stone Trail that heads upriver about 2 miles. Along the Pinnacles Trail, watch for bighorn sheep and nesting cliff swallows and listen for canyon wrens’ descending melodies. 

View of yellow wildflowers from the Table Rocks.
The Table Rocks are home to hundreds of wildflower species. Photo by Laura Arbo

Woodlands and Rare Soils in Southern Oregon

Just west of downtown Jacksonville, the 255-acre Jacksonville Woodlands boasts a 16-mile trail network that is inundated with flowers come late March to mid-April. Delicate shooting star, larkspur and buttercup blooms are on display along the 1- to 1.5-mile Rich Gulch trail. The relatively flat, hard-packed granite trail is stroller- and wheelchair-friendly. It travels through oak, manzanita and ponderosa pine woodlands that are home to 20 different wildflower species, including the federally endangered lily Gentner’s fritillary, which stands 1 to 3 feet tall with crimson, bell-shaped blooms. To see trillium and monkey flower, typically in bloom throughout April in the woodlands, take the roughly half-mile Sarah Zigler Interpretive Trail along Jackson Creek. 

The 2,800-acre Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Wayside, about 26 miles southwest of Grants Pass, is one of Oregon’s premier botanical sites. Here, visitors can observe rare plants uniquely adapted to the area’s harsh serpentine soils. Look for elegant blooms of white azalea, large-flowered rush lily and California lady’s slipper orchid from May through June along a short wheelchair-accessible boardwalk. The boardwalk leads to a wetland where the rare, carnivorous California pitcher plant, or cobra lily, resembles the arching snake with a striking green and red flower on a curved neck. 

At Table Rocks near Central Point, spot hundreds of wildflower species growing on rocky terrain,  including the extremely rare dwarf-woolly meadowfoam — which only bloom on top of the Table Rocks and nowhere else in the world.

About 12 miles south on Highway 199 is Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside, an equally intriguing site. A recently opened 1.2-mile, wheelchair-accessible out-and-back trail runs along Rough and Ready Creek, where rare plants like the Waldo rockcress grow next to familiar balsamroot and shooting star, best seen from April to June. 

If You Go:

  • Remember to stay on the trail, avoid picking flowers (it’s illegal), and check ahead to see if dogs are allowed and whether they need to be on-leash.
  • Peak blooms vary from year to year, so visit Northwest Wildflowersmap before you go for flowers that are currently blooming. 

About The

Josephine Woolington
Josephine Woolington is a writer, musician and educator. She lives in the Willamette Valley, near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, where she was born and raised. She is the author of "Where We Call Home: Lands, Seas, and Skies of the Pacific Northwest," a nonfiction essay collection about native plants and animals. When she's not writing, she's most likely birding.

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