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7 Winter Hikes In Oregon
If you've never hiked in Oregon in winter, here’s what you’re missing: the drama of rain-flushed waterfalls; seabirds hanging on the updraft of a cliff’s edge; views of the ocean’s stormy moods; elk and deer browsing on the wintery landscape. Add these trails to your winter hiking list:
Combine the Captain Cook Trail and Restless Waters Trail for a scenic hike between Cook’s Chasm and Devils Churn in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. This beautiful trail is partially paved (read: less mud) and bookended by two awesome ocean features — the Spouting Horn at one end and Devils Churn at the other — which are even more dramatic in winter. Extend this short, 1.7-mile hike with another Cape Perpetua Trail, like the out-and-back Giant Spruce Trail (2 miles round-trip).
For serious waterfall drama, check out the Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area about 24 miles inland from Coos Bay. Heavy winter rainfall adds to the power of these tumbling cascades. A 1.4-mile trail takes you to the top of Golden Falls for stunning views of the 100-foot plunge.
Find more winter waterfall beauty at Kentucky Falls about 30 miles inland from Reedsport in the Siuslaw National Forest. The 2.2-mile one-way trail into the Douglas fir forest leads first to Upper Kentucky Falls and then an observation deck above the 100-foot twin cascades of Lower Kentucky Falls. Extend your hike with any or all of the 6.5-mile North Fork Smith Trail.
In Eastern Oregon, Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area near La Grande offers rich opportunities for wildlife viewing along a 1-mile, ADA-accessible trail. Look for hawks and eagles as well as mule deer Rocky Mountain Elk here in the largest hardstem bulrush marsh in northeast Oregon. Friends of Ladd Marshoffers regular guided walks.
The Willamette Valley’s Shellburg Falls is a hidden beauty often overlooked by hikers headed to Silver Falls State Park. The moderate 5.7-mile loop trail gains about 740 feet and leads to a 100-foot curtain of the falls (and kids will love how the trail ducks behind the cascade). The trailhead is located about 22 miles east of Salem near Mahama.
Thank you Eileen for the great info!
Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.
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