Pause for a moment and imagine yourself in the forest, crunchy leaves underfoot, a babbling brook nearby and maybe even a waterfall. Flushed with endorphins, your body feels great and your mind restored. With all the stress of the past year, now is an excellent time to plan to spend more time in nature, exploring Oregon’s great outdoors.
Sometimes it helps to have a guidebook on hand, to carry with you for detailed trail notes and other handy tips and resources specific to the place you’re visiting. Here’s a roundup of some of Oregon’s top guidebooks, written by local authors who are experts on the subject. Consider ordering online from Powell’s Books or another independent bookseller near you. They make thoughtful gifts for outdoors-loving friends and family members as well.
Insiders’ Rose City and Beyond
Looking for some urban exploration? Portland writers Andrew Collins and JD Shadel co-wrote a first edition of Fodor’s Inside Portland, published in April 2020. The full-color guide includes a pull-out map, illustrations and itineraries to the city’s latest happenings, including the hip culinary and arts scenes and under-the-radar locals’ favorites. For similar coverage of the hottest destinations across the state, check out Fodor’s Oregon, eighth edition, published in August 2020. Collins wrote the Portland, Columbia Gorge, Southern Oregon, Crater Lake and Oregon Coast chapters.
Waterfalls to Swoon Over
If waterfall hikes are your jam, let Adam Sawyer’s books be your muse. The Portland outdoors author has written several guidebooks about the state’s top waterfall trails, including the second edition of Hiking Waterfalls Oregon, which came out in July 2020. The full-color guide features 64 waterfall hikes he’s deemed the best in the state, plus 19 more worth mention — some remote, others just a short hike from the trailhead — spanning from the Coast Range to the Cascades.
Post-Hike Bites and Brews
Portland writer Matt Wastradowski combined his love of hiking with his love of craft breweries and co-wrote the July 2020 edition of Moon Pacific Northwest Hiking through Moon Travel Guides. The hefty book spotlights trail notes, maps, campgrounds and a recommended bite or place for a brew nearby for 75 hikes in Oregon. It covers the entire state, from the Oregon Coast to Crater Lake, the Sky Lakes Wilderness to Steens Mountain and more.
Top 100 Trails
Perhaps Oregon’s premier hiking authority and one of the state’s most prolific guidebook authors, William L. Sullivan, a Eugene native, prides himself on accuracy. He posts regular updates on closures and trail conditions to his website, OregonHiking.com, and rehikes each region of Oregon every seven years to produce an updated edition. Each of his guidebooks includes short, engaging write-ups and hand-drawn maps for 100 top hikes he’s selected, as well as a bonus 100 hikes listed in the back — just in case you run out of ideas. Find some of Sullivan’s top hikes in the Mt. Hood area, Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, the Central Oregon Cascades and the Coast Range. Read more about hiking with Bill Sullivan and his adventures in Oregon for the past 40 years.
Cruising Around Portland
Tired of your regular neighborhood walk? Find inspiration in Portland Stair Walks: Explore Portland, Oregon’s Public Stairways, by Laura O. Foster, a fifth-generation Oregonian.The book includes hidden paths and pedestrian bridges with routes in all quadrants of the city, for 18 walking adventures in all. Similarly, Foster’s Walking With Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary’s Portland brings you into the world of McMinnville-born Beverly Cleary (who celebrated her 104th birthday in April 2020), one of Portland’s beloved literary icons, with a guide to exploring the very locations that inspired her fictional childhood classics.
Day Trips Aplenty
For more mini-getaway ideas, Bend writer Kim Cooper Findling’s Day Trips From Portland, Oregon, now in its third edition, offers hundreds of adventures within a two-hour drive of the city, including hiking, biking, kayaking or swimming. If you’ve got your eyes on the Coast or Bend area, her Day Trips to the Oregon Coast: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler and Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families will keep you stocked with ideas for the season if not the whole year ahead.
Camping Fans Rejoice
What’s better than pitching a tent under the stars and waking up to the sound of bird calls all around? Pick up a copy of Best Tent Camping: Oregon: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape From Civilization, published in 2018 by Becky Ohlsen. Perfect for those who find the prospect of picking out a campsite a bit intimidating, the guide includes detailed campground-layout maps and candid ratings on a selection of top sites for beauty, privacy, quiet, security, spaciousness and cleanliness. Always check the campsite’s official website or call the ranger’s office for the most up-to-date information in light of COVID and wildfire-related closures.
Discover the State
Gerry Frank’s Oregon, now in its fourth edition, is a classic by this fourth-generation Oregonian, a former chief of staff to late Sen. Mark Hatfield. From his home base in Salem, Gerry Frank has spent his life exploring the nooks and crannies across the state, and his latest updates to the book include dozens of new listings for the best spots and activities. From digging your own thundereggs (the state rock) to biking, fishing, hiking, jet-boat excursions and railroad rides in 165 Oregon cities and towns, the 400-page tome is as much a travel resource as a love letter to the state by an Oregon icon. Don’t miss Frank’s exclusive lists of his favorite places to stay in all regions of Oregon — an invaluable resource whenever you decide to venture out.
Top 101 Adventures
Grant’s Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures, by longtime travel guru Grant McOmie, is the print form of everything Oregonians know and love about him. A fifth-generation Oregonian, McOmie is an award-winning journalist who has been the affable face and voice of adventure travel for decades on KGW, inviting viewers along from the comfort of their own home. The book is organized by the month in which many of his TV segments was filmed, and features 75 photographs from his outdoor adventures. He includes expert tips on “what to know if you go,” “best time of the year,” and access information.