written by Bronte Dod | photo by Zack Palmer
These hikes come in all shades of green as they meander through Oregon’s lush old-growth forests and parallel some of the state’s winding and powerful rivers.
There are forty miles of trail to explore along southern Oregon’s Rogue River, but you don’t have to be an experienced backpacker to take part. The trail lends itself well to moderate day hikes. One good option is the out-and-back day hike from the Rogue River Trailhead, which takes you four miles down the trail. You’ll find views of Rainie Falls, Whiskey Creek and an historic cabin as you crisscross the river and streams along the way. During the spring months, crowds are minimal and you can avoid the often sweltering heat of Southern Oregon in the summer.
Distance: 7.4 miles round trip
Located within the 62,000-acre Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness area, this out-and-back trail winds along the Salmon River, leading hikers over cliffs with expansive views of the Salmon River Canyon. The trailhead is off Highway 26 near Rhododendron. The full trail opens in late spring, but the first two miles of the hike are open all year.
Distance: 7.8 miles round trip
The hike along the Metolius River in Central Oregon is an easy hike for families. Beginning at the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery, you’re almost always in sight of the popular fly-fishing river. A good turnaround point is Wizard Falls, a small waterfall coming out of the riverbank. The Metolius is off Highway 20 in Camp Sherman, a small community worth spending time in after the hike. A short drive from the trailhead will lead to the head of the Metolius, where you can view the spring that fuels the flow. If you can’t make it until summer, the plus side is that the Kokanee Café, a hidden gem of Oregon’s culinary scene, will be open.
Distance: 4.6 miles round trip
As one of the most popular trails for mountain bikes in the United States, hikers will have to share the McKenzie River Trail. There are two trailheads where you can start, but the lower trail off the McKenzie River Scenic Byway will ensure that you get a view of Koosah Falls. About four miles into the twenty-six-mile trail, and up a somewhat steep and rocky elevation climb, you’ll find the stunning Tamolitch Pool, also known as Blue Pool because of the almost freezing, crystal-clear, blue waters.
Distance: 8 miles round trip