Top Five Spring Hikes in Western Oregon

This has been the winter that won't seem to end. With fresh snow falling in the Cascades this week it likely take well into July for the snow to melt off trails above 5,000 feet. So if you're wanting to get out and enjoy the warm weather coming this weekend and next week check out these hikes.

5) Henline Falls

Henline Falls
Located in the exceptional Opal Creek Wilderness, this short trail passive by relics from bygone mines and ends at a beautiful waterfall near a mine shaft. Rumor has it there are several other waterfalls to be explored upstream. Directions, additional photos, and GPS tracks can be found here. After being closed for the majority of 2015 because of fire damage the trail has been reopened by the outstanding Santiam River Zone Trail Crew.

4) Silver Falls State Park: Trail of Ten Falls

Lower South Falls at Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park is the crown jewel of Oregon's park system. The most famous of trails is the Trail of Ten Falls, which frequently results in quite busy trails. Thankfully if you head out in spring, fall, or winter there is substantially fewer hikers. I recommend this as a spring hike because the waterfalls are much more impressive as they are being fed by melting snowpack from high in the Cascades. If you really want to avoid most of the crowds definitely go midweek.

3) French Pete Trail

Fallen tree in French Pete Creek

The Three Sisters Wilderness is often inaccessible until mid-June or later because of persistent snowpack. Thankfully in 1978 the French Pete drainage was added to the Three Sisters Wilderness. Beautiful old-growth Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and bigleaf maple line the banks of French Pete Creek. This trail makes a perfect day hike, or if you're looking for some early season creek side camping there are several spots to pick from.

2) Marys Peak: East Ridge Trail  

View from the summit of Marys Peak
There are several trails that reach the summit of Marys Peak, but my favorite is the East Ridge Trail. It starts around 2,100 feet of elevation which makes it a nearly 2,000 foot climb to the summit. Besides the incredible views of the Willamette Valley and Coast Range, the trail also boasts an impressive stand of noble fir, which are relatively rare in the Coast Range. There seems to always be at least a few people at the summit, but I rarely see anyone along the trail.

1) The Fall Creek National Recreation Trail

Early morning fog hanging above Fall Creek

Edward standing next to a massive Douglas-fir along the Fall Creek Trail
 Fall Creek Reservoir is a popular destination only a short distance from the Springfield/Eugene area, but if you continue passed it you'll come to the beginning of the Fall Creek National Recreation Trail. This trail passes through incredible old-growth Douglas-fir and western hemlock, and into an area that was burned by the 2003 Clark Fire. The Bedrock campground makes for a nice turnaround point for a day hike. Though the trail continues for 13.7 miles one way. Which makes for a great longer day hike if you can shuttle vehicles.

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