Willamette National Forest is a vast park containing some of Oregon’s highest peaks and a thriving wildlife eco-system. Its scenic terrain runs for 110 miles (180 kilometers), encompassing lakes, mountains and dense woodland. Explore this vast forest for a greater understanding of Oregon’s plants and animals.
The highest point in the forest is Mount Jefferson, which reaches 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) above sea level. Capture photos of its impressive snow-capped peak. The mountain is particularly difficult and dangerous to climb, but views from a great distance capture its glory. Many other summits also turn white with snow from October to April, including Mount Washington and the Three Sisters.
Near the center of the forest is Waldo Lake, around which you can cycle, hike and ride horseback. Go swimming in the crystal clear water and rent a boat from one of the surrounding campgrounds. Try waterskiing in a site farther north, such as the Blue River Reservoir or the Big Lake Area. The labyrinth of lakes, rivers and trails here creates a stunning platform from which to view the waterfalls of the McKenzie Travel Corridor.
Nearby is the Sweet Home District, where you can register for guided hikes of varying difficulties. Book your tour 2 weeks in advance.
Wander along the trails of the forests, which are primarily made up of Douglas fir trees. Note that this species of tree is useful for timber, which has led to disputes between logging companies and environmentalists. The dense forests also comprise western white pine, western red cedar, Pacific yew and mountain hemlock.
Spot some of roughly 300 species of fish and woodland creatures in the park. These include wolverines and southern red-backed voles. Gaze up at the majestic bald eagles and northern spotted owls.
Willamette National Forest is 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Oakridge in the Cascade Range of central Oregon. Expect the journey to take about 2 to 3 hours, due to the slow trajectory of the winding roads. Visit nearby landmarks, such as Fall Creek State Recreation Area.