Road Trip: Oakridge
Sometimes you just have to make a break for the hills! This spring, drive to Oakridge/Westfir for some R&R&R – rest, relaxation and recreation.
At 1,200 feet elevation, these mountain communities are starting to thaw in the spring weather. Put on your mud boots to scout the trails. Forests will be sporting a fresh veneer of green, rivers and creeks will be bursting and the birds will be singing! Spring is not the time for mountain biking due to fragile water-logged trails, but you'll find that this is the perfect season for fishing, foraging and wildlife watching.
Before you head out on Highway 58, check the road conditions because spring snow is still a possibility. You'll want to make sure you have supplies for any weather that March may offer. Stop in the town of Lowell for snacks or to stretch your legs at the city park.
Here are a few springtime highlights not to miss:
- Soak in McCredie Hot Springs. As the raw earth loses its blanket of snow, soothe yourself in the warm, bubbling waters of McCredie Hot Springs. The swollen river will likely impede the roadside pools, but a hike on the other side of the river can take you to a second set of silty-bottom (and sometimes very hot) springs. Please use caution near the river and do not attempt to wade across as currents are strong (and cold!) in the spring.
- Snowshoe to Salt Creek Falls. Earlier in the season, there may still be snow on the ground, especially as the roads climb past Oakridge toward Willamette Pass. Trek to the viewing area for Oregon's second-highest waterfall which is beautiful and accessible in both snow and sunshine. If there is still snow, rent snowshoes before leaving Eugene or at Oakridge Bike Shop & Willamette Mountain Mercantile.
- Make this a fishing trip. Arrange for guide service or cast out a line at the numerous lakes and streams around Oakridge. The Willamette Fish Hatchery is a great place to check out the next generation of spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead.
- Share fish stories at local watering holes. Like any small town, there is often a hub of story swapping over good beer and pub food. You'll find this scene outside the 3 Legged Crane (formerly Brewers Union). Sip on a cask ale or walk a few blocks further to the Deep Woods Distillery where the owner will pour you mini-cocktails of artisan spirits (check the hours first as they may only be doing curbside sales). The "Fir of the Doug" is forest-to-flask perfection.
- Pose at the mural. Visit the town's "Oregon is Magic" mural by Gage Hamilton, a fanciful nod to the area's mountain biking culture and a memorable selfie. The mural is located on the corner of E 1st & Ash Street.
Road trippers can check into any of the clean and convenient roadside motels in the area. Travelers may also enjoy the historic Westfir Lodge in nearby Westfir which was the former timber company office. Located adjacent to the Office Covered Bridge and at the Alpine Trail, this getaway is a favorite of cyclists and hikers.