Accessible Trails

March 12, 2014 (Updated May 3, 2019)

Oregon’s natural beauty is here for everyone. Our rushing waterfalls, verdant hiking trails and scenic viewpoints inspire people of all ages and ability levels. For those with limits to their mobility, we offer the following scenic spots as great options for enjoying the breathtaking splendor of Oregon.

Row River National Recreation Trail by Joni Kabana

Willamette Valley

Salt Creek Falls, the second highest single-drop waterfall in Oregon, is a dramatic, 286-foot pour-over and a sight to behold. A short paved loop trail from the parking lot and informative kiosk leads to a viewing platform overlooking the dramatic cascade. Pack a picnic and enjoy the beauty of the Willamette National Forest. The trailhead is located just five miles west of the Willamette Pass Ski Area on Highway 58.

The Row River National Recreation Trail winds along the former tracks of the Oregon Pacific and Eastern Railway between the towns of Cottage Grove and Culp Creek. The 15.6-mile route offers views of several historic covered bridges and the train bridge featured in the movie “Stand By Me.” Look for osprey, heron, ducks and bald eagles. Jump on the trail in Cottage Grove or from the scenic Mosby Creek Bridge.

Wildwood State Recreation Site courtesy of Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory
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Mt. Hood & the Gorge

In the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the historic highway climbs high above the steep sides of the Gorge for awesome vistas. Stop at the Portland Women’s Forum State Overlook above Rooster Rock State Park, the first viewpoint along the highway. Travel a bit farther to the elegant Vista House perched on the basalt outcropping of Crown Point 733 feet above the river. Go just a bit farther to find awesome Multnomah Falls spilling a total of 620 feet — the tallest waterfall in the state. (Pro’s tip: Visit on a weekday.) Wildflower lovers will want to head out to the Overlook Trail at Bridal Veil Falls in the spring, when purple camas bloom. The paved path circles the top of the bluff and affords excellent views of the Columbia River and evening sunset.

About an hour southwest of Hood River, find the serene waters of Lost Lake and enjoy stunning views of Mt. Hood. Also in the region, the Lost Creek Campground has a paved, 0.3-mile nature trail with streamside platforms and interpretive signage to educate visitors about this part of the Mt. Hood National Forest. On the opposite (south) side of Mt. Hood at Trillium Lake, a 3.6-mile loop trail crosses wetland areas with great bird-watching opportunities and gorgeous views of Mt. Hood. In Welches, Wildwood State Recreation Site features a paved three-quarter-mile path, the Cascade Streamwatch Trail, featuring educational displays about salmon, views of the Salmon River and a fish-viewing window below stream level.

The Painted Hills

Eastern Oregon

Paved paths at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City lead to the historic wagon ruts in the backdrop of the beautiful Baker Valley and more than four miles of interpretive trails. (Visitors can borrow wheelchairs and strollers.) A quarter-mile boardwalk trail and picnic area at the Painted Hills at the John Day Fossil Beds affords close-up views of the stunning red and gold clay. The Hells Canyon Overlook just off the scenic byway offers panoramic views of the canyon and Seven Devils Mountains.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Oregon Coast

A few coastal towns have scenic waterfront paths accessible to all, including Astoria’s downtown riverwalk, Newport’s historic bayfront and Seaside’s 1.5-mile paved Promenade. Visitors may also rent free adaptive wheelchairs to reach the beach in Seaside, Cannon Beach and Manzanita.

The town of Lincoln City includes accessible amenities such as a list of best beach access points and oceans views. Check out SW 51st Street, where you can see the rich birdlife on Siletz Bay and view the ocean. NW 26th Street has a great viewing platform, and from NW 15th, you can drive right down onto the beach (don’t get stuck in the sand!). The 2.5-mile Spring Lake Trail just off of NE 14th Street is a moderate nature trail through old growth forest and home to a 400-year-old Sitka Spruce.

Just north of the town of Newport is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, where visitors can easily access the lighthouse and interpretive center by way of a paved three-quarter mile path, amidst a host of wildlife such as seabirds, whales and seals. Farther south, a boardwalk at Darlingtonia State Natural Site allows for visitors on wheels to view some of the 18 acres of rare plant species.

Hoyt Arboretum by Mint Images Limited / Alamy Stock Photo

Portland Region

In North Portland, see an endless array of wildlife on the Interlakes Trail at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, a quiet oasis nearly 2,000 acres of wild habitat to explore via pavement with small sections of concrete upended by tree roots. The Overlook Trail at Hoyt Arboretumin the middle of bustling Northwest Portland, is a paved, mile-long trail that winds through open fields for striking views of the city’s west hills. In the city’s southeast quadrant, the Mountain View trail at Powell Butte Nature Park is a mix of pavement and compact soil, loose gravel and occasional steep grades. The 10 miles of trails here on this extinct volcano are a favorite for city-dwellers looking for respite amidst views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.

Not far south, at Spring Park in a quiet neighborhood of Milwaukie, a newly renovated path — pavement, compact soil and gravel — takes nature-lovers through delicate habitat in this protected area of rare species. Thirty miles west of Portland, the Banks-Vernonia Trail is a hotspot for cyclists, mostly, but also runners, walkers and horseback riders, due to the 21 miles of paved paths (amongst six trailheads) that traverse through the old farmland and across 13 bridges,  along a repurposed lumber railway line.

Lithia Park

Southern Oregon

Much of Ashland’s Lithia Park is accessible by paved path, which makes this rich urban greenspace a delight to visit all year long. Enjoy gardens, ponds, streams, and benches to relax for a spell. Farther south, the paved trail that leads to the Rogue River Gorge Viewpoint offers dramatic views of the thunderous river as it gushes below.

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters, annual Visitor Guide and other editorial content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

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