7 Great Hiking Trails To Consider (+ 12 Safety Tips For Successful Hikes)
MCKENZIE RIVER TRAIL
We made our first visit to McKenzie Trail this weekend and it did not disappoint. The entire trail is comprised over 26 miles, but as this was just an afternoon trip, we decided to start at the beginning and hiked a total of 5.2 miles.
Those 5+ miles were an overall easy hike along the McKenzie River. If you have never seen it before, the McKenzie River is gorgeous. With stunning blue/green colors unlike any river I have seen, it is a fast moving, rapid filled river in some places and completely serene the next. I thought that this was one of the more peaceful hikes we have done.
Because there wasn’t a lot of uphill/downhill climbs the kids stayed happy and excited throughout the trip. Our son, who is the normally whiny one, didn’t complain once. That is a win in our book!
My only issue with this trail is that it was very narrow and shared with many mountain bikers. We had to step off the trail quite often to let them pass. Not a huge issue, but it made some of the progress slow going. That being said, I just love the people that you pass on trails, all of the bikers were very kind and every one of them made sure to tell us how many others were in their group so that we knew what to wait for.
Throughout the trail, when not next to the river we passed through beautiful and serene scenery with sunlight streaming through. The kids kept commenting that it felt like we were in a rain-forest.
We stumbled into a lot of old timber. Many of the trees were actually quite concerning as they appeared to be rotten, beautiful none-the-less though.
I know that further down the trail there are some stunning blue pools of water. We will definitely be returning soon to see those!
THOR’S WELL – CAPE PERPETUA
We had quite an adventurous weekend! One of our adventures included visiting Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua, which is located on Hwy 101, roughly 15 miles north of Florence.
We started out this little trip by strolling through the visitor center which in itself was very cool. We got to see some ancient tools used by Native Americans and settlers, plus bones from different whales, which our son just loved. Have you ever seen the skull of a whale? Wow..they are massive!
Anyway….from the visitor center, there is a 1-mile loop paved walking trail that takes you down passed the tide pools to several viewpoints where you can see Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn.
We visited at a perfect time to see Thor’s Well up close as it was low tide and we could get close enough to take pictures of it without worrying about big waves coming up (we were careful to watch for any sneaker waves, of course).
These progression shots show what a beautiful place this really is. It is almost magical or mythological (hence the name).
Because we were there at low tide, we missed out on Spouting Horn, so I guess that is for another day, but I am so excited to have visited this gorgeous place! If you are visiting the Oregon Coast, this is a stop that is not to be missed.
This trail is an easy one that is both stroller and wheelchair accessible, but enough to give you a little workout!
DRIFT CREEK FALLS
Drift Creek Falls is a beautiful waterfall hike located in the Coastal Range Mountains about 20 miles outside of Lincoln City, Oregon.
A 2.5 round trip moderate hike, Drift Creek has several great picnic areas (bring lunch!) along the way and a beautiful suspension bridge over the Falls. I am a sucker for bridges, so this is perhaps my favorite part of the hike. You can feel a slight sway to the bridge as you are passing over it, which only adds to the excitement.
We have been to this trail several times and feel very comfortable bringing the kids here. We often see dogs along the trail as well. Not many steep cliffs to be concerned about.
About 10 miles west of Lincoln City, you will see a sign leading to Drift Creek Falls. Turn S on Bear Creek Rd and follow it for roughly 7 miles. I will become a one-lane gravel road and you will see trailhead signs along the way. Along the way, you will feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere, but you will be surprised how many other hikers you will encounter there. It is a very popular hike.
*There is a $7 parking fee, so be sure to bring cash or checks.
BASKETT SLOUGH NEAR DALLAS OREGON
We were on our way home from getting groceries in town last week and decided to stop by a local spot for a short hike, or more accurately a nature excursion.
Baskett Slough is a National Wildlife Refuge approximately ten miles west of Salem. According to Wikipedia “The Refuge consists of 1,173 acres (4.75 km²) of cropland, which provide forage for wintering geese, 300 acres (1.2 km²) of forests, 550 acres (2.2 km²) of grasslands, and 500 acres (2.0 km²) of shallow water seasonal wetlands and 35 acres (0.14 km²) of permanent open water.” Many different animals and birds call this refuge their home.
Although we were only taking an hour to go for a walk, Basket Slough is a beautiful place to spend some time. There are more trails that wind up through the woods, as well as the main trail that winds up to the top of a viewpoint. I would say this trail would be easily accessible for most everyone and rated Easy. It does climb some in elevation from the parking lot to the viewpoint, but it is a well-manicured trail and isn’t steep by any means.
Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or just want to take the family to see the beautiful scenery, Basket Slough Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful destination. If you want to see several places in one day, see some of our other trail destinations in the area, particularly Beazel Memorial Park.
BEAZELL MEMORIAL FOREST
Beazell Memorial Forest Trail is one of my favorite trails for two reasons. One, it is very close to where we live, so we have easily been able to do this hike many times. Two, the story behind this trail is a beautiful one, full of love and romance. In addition, you will find the historical Plunkett House and a restored Plunkett barn that can be rented out for weddings and events. (We actually saw inside of this barn before and it is simply stunning.)
In total there are 3.5 miles of trails to hike. Our favorite trail is to go over the first bridge and turn right along the creek, you will pass a gazebo and walk through a well-maintained trail through forest land. Continue along the trail and stay to the left once you come to a trail junction. The climb is steady, but not severe and once you hit the summit it is well worth it. At the summit take the trail junction to the right and head down toward the creek. You will cross over two more wooden bridges and to the north, you will see an old car that had crashed along the bank many years ago.
This trail loop is approximately 2 miles and can get very muddy when it has rained. (Our kids loved doing this trail in the rain though, so there are benefits).
We decided to take a trip to the famously named falls and see what all the fuss was about and let me tell you, it was worth it!
Niagara Falls Trail is located outside of Beaver, which is near Tillamook. This trail is two miles in and back. A relatively easy hike (some elevation change), you get the opportunity to view two beautiful falls in less than an hour’s hike!
Start at the well-marked trailhead, head out into a well-maintained trail. At near the one-mile point, you will cross a bridge which leads to Pheasant Creek Falls.
Many say that Pheasant Creek Falls is the less spectacular of the two falls, I am not sure that I agree. You are up close and personal with this first set of falls, feeling the mist on your face while passing over the bridge.
Just passed Pheasant Creek Falls, you turn a corner the trail endpoint, which also has a lovely little picnic spot overlooking Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is a 112-foot drop style falls.
We visited this trail in February, which was a great time because due to the streams’ water levels, Winter and Spring are by far the best times to visit.
If you are looking for a date idea for you and your honey, I just love the idea of this hike for a Springtime date. How many of us can say that we went to Niagara Falls for a date? Food for thought.
Directions to trailhead: From Beaver, Oregon, travel East on Blaine Road for approximately 6 miles (you will see signs). Continue East at Blaine Junction on Upper Nestucca River Road for approximately 5.8 miles to Forest Service Road 8533 (Faded marked sign). Travel south approximately 4.3 miles to Forest Service Road 8533-131. Follow signs and turn right at the junction and travel 0.7 miles to the trailhead.
ALSEA FALLS & GREEN PEAK FALLS
We try to hit up a hiking trail at least once every weekend. Sometimes we do trails that we have done before, but sometimes we seek a new adventure! This past weekend, we all wanted a new adventure, so we decided that we would travel to the Alsea Falls Recreation Site, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house.
Oh my goodness was it worth it! At the starting point of the trail, you veer off to the left and immediately see Alsea Falls which is a gorgeous and easily accessible set of Falls with lots of rocks to sit and picnic or just sunbathe on.
You then can rejoin the trail to make the 4.2 miles round trip to the Green Peak Falls which are stunning, plus there is a great pool of water to swim in at the bottom which the kids loved!
There are some sketchy spots along the trail so if you do bring your kids, keep hold of them, but the trail overall was pretty easy. This is definitely a hike we will do again!
*This trail had a $3 day-use fee. Be sure to bring exact change! All we had was a $5, so I guess we tipped the rangers that day
Do not hike alone. This is especially true for novice hikers. If you are going to a new place and you are unsure of your path, call in a hiking buddy! If you do choose to hike alone, choose a trail that sees a lot of traffic.
Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. If you are going alone, or even in a group, be sure that someone knows where you are headed and how long you plan to be gone.
Be sure that your vehicle has plenty of gas. This one seems like a given, but it is important to fuel up before you go. Many trails are off the beaten path and it is possible to get turned around on your way. Be sure you are not going to run out of gas before you even get there.
When you get to your destination, be sure to stay on marked trails. Not only does creating your own path cause environmental damage, but it also highly increases your risk of getting lost.
Wear good socks/shoes. Blisters are no fun. They can literally make a hike feel like torture. If you are planning to do a lot of hiking, invest in quality hiking boots/shoes and good socks to go along with it.
Bring plenty of water. It is important to always take enough water with you to prevent dehydration. Even if it is cold outside, you still need plenty of fluids, especially if you are on the trail longer than you had intended to be. On the same note, consider bringing a water purification straw or tablets in case an emergency occurs and you need to drink stream water. We like to bring hydration packs for each hiker in our group.
Never climb on rock walls or waterfalls. Do not take extra risks that may cause you to fall and become injured. Plus, climbing on unmarked areas can cause environmental damage.
Bring a Whistle. All hikers, especially newbies and children, should carry a whistle. They are extremely lightweight and in case of emergency, take much less energy than yelling.
Layer your clothes. Temperature changes can happen quickly. It is important to be dressed appropriately. Lucky for today’s hikers, there are lots of clothing options made specifically for hiking.
Never leave your group. We always hike as a family, often with others. It is imperative to never leave your group because while no one expects to get lost, it isn’t unheard of.
Be bright. Wearing colors helps keep you visible to possible hunters in the area, plus in the case of emergency, you will be easier to spot.
If the weather turns bad during your hike, turn back. Waiting it out can have dire consequences if you become wet or cold in the elements.
It is also a good idea for each hiker to bring along their own safety kit. These can be compact and easy to pack and should include:
Mini first aid kit
small flashlight and glowstick
food (granola bar, etc)
packable plastic poncho
This is the kind of feedback I love getting from my readers.
Sometimes I wish I lived in a place that you could go ‘hiking’ here you literally can’t call it that as it’s most definitely always just a ‘walk’ I’d love to go hiking in America, depending on how ‘cary’ we’re talking…!
These are great things to know! Some of them I would have never thought of, like bringing a whistle or making sure you have enough gas. I’ve never run out of has, but it’s been close haha.