Eagle Creek(5 miles round trip)
If you could pick only one Columbia Gorge Trail to hike, this would likely be it. Eagle Creek samples the best scenery the gorge has to offer while managing a fairly friendly pace. On the long, winding path to Wahtum Lake in the Columbia Wilderness, you pass half a dozen waterfalls, any one of which would be worth a substantial hike on its own. Two miles into the trek you will pass the aptly named Punchbowl Falls. Continue on to the spectacular High Bridge, which spans a deep gorge on the creek. Total elevation gain is about 800 feet. This trail is rated moderate to difficult.
Cascade Head(5.5 miles round trip)
This is the premiere Oregon coastal hike. The trail begins and continues through a 9,600-acre wildlife laboratory. Along the trail, you will pass spectacular rocks jutting as high as 1,800 feet above the Pacific Ocean and several streams cascading (hence the name) into the ocean from spectacular, smooth gorges. The path, which runs through the Nature Conservancy Preserve, makes an excellent day hike through magnificent stands of spruce and views across the Salmon River estuary. The trail offers numerous spectacular views of Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout to the north and breathtaking oceanic views to the south.
Triangulation Peak(4.4 miles round trip)
This is rated as one of the best mountain hikes in the Outdoor Program at Willamette University. This path starts high (4,700 feet) and stays high, winding through wildflower meadows past Spire Rock, an impressive hunk of basalt. A side trail leads you to Boca Cave, a large cavern, if you would like an incredible rest stop. The final stretch is a leg-sapper. Keep at it. At its summit Triangulation Peak boosts you just high enough (5,400 feet) for outstanding views of the Cascade Range (including Mount Jefferson, Mount Hood, the Sisters, and Three Finger Jack) and the Jefferson Wilderness area. This trail is rated moderate.
(4.2 miles round trip)
Tamolitch Pool has it all. Located in the middle of the Cascade Mountain pass, this trail has old growth forests, lava flows, and an underground river! A portion of the Mackenzie River Trail (a 26 mile trail), Tamolitch Pool (or Blue Pool as it’s commonly referred to) is an easy 4.2 mile in and out trail. This short portion of the trail takes you to the beautiful turquoise Tamolitch Pool. Beginning of this easy hike is through old growth Douglas fir forest as the McKenzie River falls away you walk along the cliff. Eventually you come upon an old lava flow. The pool is actually where the McKenzie River comes back up after being submerged in a lava tube.
(6.5 miles round trip)
Opal Creek’s ancient forest, on the edge of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness, remains as one of North Santiam River’s “must do” hikes. The trail starts out at Jawbone Flats, a well-preserved 1929 mining camp. The trail crosses Gold Creek on a 60 foot-high bridge. It then skirts dramatic cliffs above the Little Santiam River, and winds through old growth grove as impressive as any found farther up stream. After the 2-mile mark, the trail leads to a 30-foot cascade pouring into a deep green pool. Continue on the trail to experience spectacular views of Opal Pool’s scenic gorge. This trail is rated moderate.