The 12 best locations to hike and swim in Oregon this summer


By H Beck, OMN Illustrator

Oregon is a wonderful state to live in if you’re looking to adventure into the wilderness this summer as it offers vast hiking and swimming opportunities among the natural realms.

Adia Wolters, Beaver's Digest Contributor

Oregon is a wonderful state to live in if you’re looking to adventure into the wilderness this summer as it offers vast hiking and swimming opportunities among the natural realms.

Audrie Bayham, a desk staff member at the Adventure Leadership Institute at Oregon State University and student, said, “Corvallis is in the perfect location being so close to both the Coast Range and the Cascade Range.”

So if you’ve been searching for some places to travel this summer, look no further, below is a list of locations recommended to explore!


Drift Creek Falls

For places to hike this summer, Kawaiala Husen, a second year student at Oregon State University recommended “Drift Creek Falls!”

The Drift Creek Falls trail, located among the Coastal Range Mountains in the Siuslaw National Forest, is complete with green forests, a suspension bridge and of course, a 66 feet tall waterfall. The hike to the waterfall is 3 miles out and back, and the location is open year round. A recreation pass is required for parking.

Directions can be found on the U.S. Forest Service Website.


Tamolitch Falls- Blue Pool-

If you’re looking to cool off this summer, you can drive out along the historic McKenzie Highway where Tamolitch Falls, also known as blue pool, is located among the ancient trees.

Jenna Schoepflin, a third year student at OSU, said, “[Tamolitch Falls] is a strikingly blue pool of water fed into by underground springs.”

Schoepflin gave some of her advice for your trip: “the parking lot is always packed and the water is typically 37 degrees Fahrenheit, so I’d recommend hiking the nearby McKenzie River Trail to get there instead.” Schoepflin continued, “you’ll work up a sweat to cool off and won’t have to deal with as big of a crowd.”


The Divide Trail

If you’re going to be in the Portland, Ore. area this summer, there are many hiking trails around Oregon’s largest mountain, Mount Hood. The Divide Trail, which goes through the Mount Hood National Forest and Badger Creek Wilderness, offers views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount Rainier according to the U.S. Forest Service. According to the website, May and June are good months to see lavish wildflowers. Directions for the hike can be found in the above link.

“I’m an avid backpacker and hiker, so I’m always on the hunt for a good trai,” said Schoepflinl. “You can find me almost every weekend from spring to fall heading up to Mt. Hood, as there are some awesome trails around there. My favorite so far has been the Divide Trail on Lookout Mountain.”

Schoepflin continued saying, “on a clear day, you get the perfect view of the peak of Mt. Hood. Along the trail, there are small, vivid wildflower meadows, classic Oregon forest, a small lake with camping spots—it’s very secluded, never busy and really fun rock scrambles to climb up.”


Dog Mountain

Going across state lines over the Columbia River Gorge in Southern Washington, the 6-mile round trip hike up Dog Mountain holds views of the Columbia River as you walk through old growth forests and meadows of wildflowers. The location is known for having an abundance of wildflowers such as yellow balsamroot, purple lupins, Indian paintbrush and white phantom orchids according to the U.S. Forest Service.

A permit is required.


Bobby Lake

The hike out to the bright blue Bobby Lake is 5 miles round trip through the Willamette National Forest which joins with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The lake is available for fishing, camping and swimming.


God’s Thumb

If you find yourself out at the Oregon Coast this summer, the 4.3-mile out and back trail known as the Knoll Loop will take you to God’s Thumb, an immense ridgeline cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“The perfect spot to enjoy 360-degree views of the coastline,” said Bayham.


Iron Mountain

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Iron Mountain located in the Cascades Mountain Range is a habitat for over 300 species of plants that become rich in the summer season. The 3.2-mile out and back trail is known for being a challenging trek, but the U.S. Forest Service noted that you will hike through meadows, alpine environments and past springs.

A recreation pass is required for this location.


Waldo Lake

If you’re looking to take a swim in a lake formed by ancient glaciers, Waldo Lake located in the Willamette National Forest may be a good swimming spot for you. According to the U.S. Forest Service the wilderness holds many lakes, varieties of lush trees and hiking trails. On the Eastern side of the forest is Waldo Lake. The lake is 10 square miles and in some areas can get to 420 feet deep in depth.

A permit is required seasonally.


Around Corvallis:

If you are staying closer to Corvallis, Ore. this summer, here are a few locations nearby to adventure!


Mary’s Peak: 

Mary’s Peak, which overlooks the OSU Corvallis campus, is the largest mountain in the Coastal Range at 4,097 feet.

“A Corvallis area classic!” said Bayham. She added that “the views are breathtaking.”


Chip Ross

The Chip Ross Natural Area on the North side of Corvallis hosts easy-moderate trails among the oak trees according to the City of Corvallis Oregon.

This spot is super close to campus with plenty of options for short hikes and longer ones,” said Bayham. “There are great views overlooking Corvallis, so this is also a great spot to watch the sunset or sunrise!”


Peavy Arboretum: 

Peavy Arboretum, off of Highway 99 in the McDonald Forest, is an OSU research forest that has many trails to explore.

Bayham said, “there are so many options for both short and long hikes!”


Lewisburg Saddle: 

The Lewisburg Saddle presides over the OSU Corvallis campus on the Coastal Range Mountains. There are many trails through old growth and new growth forests, as well as viewpoints of the Willamette Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Bayham noted, “if you need any gear to help you get out on your next trip, the Adventure Leadership Institute will be open this summer for gear rental and is also a great place to ask any questions you might have about hiking in Oregon.”

She added, “always remember to bring the 10 Essentials and to follow Leave No Trace principles on your next hiking adventure!”

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