The 14-mile-long Fall Creek National Recreation Trail, about 30 miles southeast of Eugene , is ideal for short day hikes or longer expeditions; several national forest entry/exit points crop up along the way. Another plus is the low elevation of the trail, which makes it accessible year-round.
Strolling through the wilderness, you will pass many deep pools, white-water rapids, and over a dozen small streams. Giant Douglas firs, bigleaf maples, vine maples, dogwoods, and red alders are some of the predominant vegetation you’ll see along the way. In the spring, visitors are treated to shooting stars, trillium, bleeding heart, and other vibrant wildflowers.
To get to the Fall Creek National Recreation Trail, take Route 58 about 15 miles to Lowell, then go north for 2 miles to the covered bridge at Unity Junction. Take a right onto Forest Service Road 18 (Fall Creek Rd.), and stay to the left of the reservoir. Follow the road for 11 miles to Dolly Varden Campground, where the trail starts.
There are five campgrounds en route and three other spur trails that merge into the Fall Creek Trail. Bedrock Campground is a particularly popular spot for swimming.
The Larison Creek Trail (Trail 3646) is less than 10 minutes from Oakridge . Multicolored mosses cover the valley floor, and its walls simulate a brush-stroked backdrop to stands of old-growth fir. Further contrast is supplied by waterfalls and swimming holes. The mild grade and low elevation of this trail make it accessible year-round.
To get there, take Route 58 to Oakridge. Turn onto Kitson Springs County Road and proceed for 0.5 miles. Turn right on Forest Service Road 21 and follow it 3 miles to the trailhead, which you’ll find on the right side of the road. Note that this trail is shared with mountain bikers.
Another good hike close to Oakridge is the Tufti Creek Trail (Trail 3624). This easy 0.5-mile trail winds through large Douglas firs and cedars and overlooks Hills Creek Gorge. There are many small waterfalls and deep swimming holes along the way. This trail is also accessible year-round.
To get there, take Route 58 to Oakridge. Turn onto Kitson Springs County Road and proceed for about 1 mile. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 23 and follow it for 6 miles. This will take you along the northeast bank of Hills Creek Lake and on past Kitson Hot Springs (which is also worthy of investigation). Look for the trailhead sign on the right, about 1 mile past the hot springs.