Oregon’s natural beauty is here for everyone. Our rushing waterfalls, verdant hiking trails and scenic viewpoints inspire all. Offering flat paved paths, thoughtfully designed overlooks and beach features to include a wide range of mobilities, the following scenic spots and activities are great options for enjoying the breathtaking splendor of Oregon.
The Row River Trail is a 14-mile paved, multi-use National Recreation Trail that follows the route of the now-abandoned Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad line, along the scenic shores of the Row (rhymes with “cow”) River and Dorena Reservoir. The trail width varies from 8 to 10 feet and the grade does not exceed 5%. Curves are banked to help cyclists maintain balance, and the trail and facilities along the trail meet or exceed standards for accessibility. Walk or roll along the trail to experience views of Dorena Lake and surrounding farm country; several covered bridges; and the historic Bohemia Mining Area, which features remnants of late 1800s gold mines. The trestle bridge at Harms Park is one of several locations featured in films including “Stand By Me,” “Emperor of the North” and “The General.”
Salt Creek Falls, the second highest single-drop waterfall in Oregon, is a dramatic, 286-foot cascade. 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.
Silver Falls State Park near Salem holds some of Oregon’s oldest, biggest trees that are spellbinding to behold from below. What’s even better? Floating up through the 200-foot-tall, 500-year-old Douglas firs to witness them from within. Guides at Tree Climbing at Silver Falls offer cleverly designed, battery-powered rope ascenders as an add-on service, allowing visitors with limited physical ability to drift up through the canopy at the push of a button.
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 tip: Don’t forget you’ll need a timed access permit in the summer.) 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, the fishing dock is accessible, with great bird-watching opportunities and gorgeous views of that iconic peak. 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.
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.
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 Arboretum, in 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 mixed-surface path with an overlook of the wetlands takes nature-lovers through delicate habitat in this protected area of rare species. Thirty miles west of Portland, the Banks-Vernonia Trail offers people on wheels, horses or foot 21 miles of paved paths (amongst six trailheads) that traverse through the old farmland and across 13 bridges, along a repurposed lumber railway line.
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. Other excellent accessible trails include the Bear Creek Greenway — a 20-mile paved, multi-use trail that links the cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford and Central Point and — and Prescott Park’s newest mile-long trail on the rim of overlooking the beautiful Rogue Valley. Farther south, the paved trail that leads to the Rogue River Gorge Viewpoint offers dramatic views of the thunderous river below.
Want to get off the trail and above it? Just off Interstate 5 between Medford and Grants Pass, you’ll find Rogue Valley ZipLine Adventure, which offers ADA-friendly tours upon request. Guides can use small 4×4 “dirt taxis” to help lead visitors to a series of zip lines that reach a quarter-mile long and about 200 feet off the ground. On clear days you’ll have a view of the Rogue Valley below and perhaps even the Crater Lake rim.
A few coastal towns have scenic waterfront paths accessible to all, including Astoria’s downtown riverwalk, Seaside’s 1.5-mile paved Promenade and Newport’s historic bayfront.
Visitors may rent free adaptive wheelchairs to reach the beach in a number of communities, including Seaside, Cannon Beach and several locations on the Tillamook Coast, including Manzanita, Pacific City and Rockaway Beach.
At Kilchis Point Reserve — a 200-acre natural area along Tillamook Bay in Bay City, accessibility is a priority. The first circle is paved and the the rest of the trails are compacted gravel. Most of the trails are level and easy to walk. Those unable to walk to the Caitlin Heusser Bird Watching Station along Tillamook Bay and back may request a ride on the “Mike,” a modified golf cart that was named in memory of Mike Brown, one of the first donors to the Reserve. Rides are subject to availability of the drivers and reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance. Please call the Pioneer Museum at (503) 842-4553 and talk to Ruby to schedule your trip.
Just south in Lincoln City, visitors may rent free beach-wheelchairs all year-round, as well as take advantage of accessible amenities like the Mobi-Mats that are installed from late May to early September. These long mats provide a more stable, even surface for walking or rolling over the sand. You’ll find them at beach access points at Southwest 51st Street — where you can also see the vibrant birdlife on Siletz Bay — the D River wayside and Southwest 34th Street.
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, carnivorous cobra lilies.
Find more inspiration and resources in a brand-new guidebook, “The Disabled Hiker’s Guide to Western Washington and Oregon: Outdoor Adventures Accessible by Car, Wheelchair, and on Foot.”