Hiking In Oregon

Oregon is one big wilderness that’s a joy to explore. Sure, the greater Portland area is crowded, holding nearly 50% of the state’s population. Areas in Eugene and Bend have a sizeable number of people, too. But with over 62 million acres of land, hiking in Oregon is simple:  pull over and get out of the car. Even so, some hikes are better than others.

Oregon has a diverse selection of hiking, from paved, leisurely walks, to tough multi-day exertions. There are famous hikes, such as the Pacific Crest Trail, Multnomah Falls, and Silver Falls. But there are the lesser-known treasures, such as Blacklock Point and the Rogue River Trail.

Oregon always has hiking nearby, no matter if you are in the big city of Portland or the tiny community of Boring (yes, that’s really its name, and it’s a pretty cute area). The landscape is diverse, with lush, temperate rainforests and ocean views to the aired desert with unique rock formations. It’s hard to pick where to hike first, but we’ve tried to narrow it down to 16 places. 

16 Best Places To Hike In Oregon

Like indie music, hiking in Oregon gets better the more you immerse yourself. At first, people hit the well-known spectacular sights, such as Crater Lake, which is stunning. But talk to locals at diners, gas stations, at the little roadside grocer and ask where they like to go. Because while we have a born and raised Oregonian here to help, local secrets are often unmarked.

For now, our Oregonian has provided us with a selection of 16 places to visit that are well known enough to mentioned on the web. Some are famous, some less so, with a broad range of difficulty. All of them are gorgeous. Some contain spectacular waterfalls, others stunning mountain views, desert rock formations, or breathtaking panoramas of the Pacific Ocean.

But before heading out, always take a day pack with essentials such as a first aid kit, water, snacks, and a non-electronic navigational device. Oregon’s vast wilderness comes at the cost of consistent, quality cell phone reception.

Also, the wilderness has wild animals, including squirrels, elk, wild horses, mountain lions, and bears. So take photos, be awed, and they’ll be content to leave you alone provided you give them plenty of space. But for the sake of your dog, do keep your beloved four-legged friend on a leash.

Lastly, Oregon’s conditions can change fast due to excessive rain, snow, or a forest fire. So check the weather and make sure the trail is currently open. Also, a few trails do require permits, many of which are free but are important to out. Most of these are actually for search and rescue purposes, should you find yourself in trouble.  

Be safe, and have a magnificent time hiking in Oregon.

1 – Blacklock Point: Oregon Hiking

Blacklock Point is an overlooked state park near Langlois and Port Orford on the south coast. But for those that trudge through the undeveloped landscape, they’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views from the towering sandstone cliffs. It is so remote that it’s rare to see footprints on the sand. It is a true Southern Oregon treasure.

The park has little walks that go here and there, most of which connect to the two main trails. First is the Blacklock Point Trail, which takes you out to the sea. This brushes up against the Blacklock to Floras Lake Loop. Floras Lake is a state park treasured by the locals. They go there for picnics, birdwatching, windsurfing, and kayaking.

Do note, these areas are not always well-marked, although in some places it is good. Also, like most hikes on the wetter side of the state, there is mud, roots, and plenty of wind.

2 – Broken Top Trail To No Name Lake: Oregon Hiking

Broken Top Trail To No Name Lake is a much-beloved hiking trail for Bend residents and those that frequently visit the area. Permits are required but are inexpensive and easy to obtain. The hike isn’t terribly long, but there is some respectable elevation to climb.

Trust us, the stunning views of the Cascade Range make the effort worth every step.

3 – Cape Blanco Area: Oregon Hiking

Cape Blanco State Park is, depending on who you consult, arguably the most western point of the lower 48 states. It is also near Port Orford and Blacklock. It is excellent for day trips or camping. There are beaches to explore, short hikes such as the North Shore Trail,  and walks around the Hughes House and Oregon’s oldest continually operating lighthouse.

4 – Crater Lake National Park: Oregon Hiking

Crater Lake was made nearly 8,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption. The deep crater is fed exclusively by rain and snow, giving it a pure and mesmerizing color. The park is like a mini Yellowstone in that parts of it are crowded and popular, and others are hardly ever touched.

Thus, of the at least 26 hikes in the Crater Lake area, only nine are considered easy. So sure, if you do the Rim Village Walking Tour (excellent views), there will be people. But if you choose a more demanding trail, it will be a much quieter experience.

Do respect the safety warnings. Due to high-traffic visitor sections of Crater Lake being well developed, people are prone to a false sense of security.  Hikers have died or put rescuers in peril trying to save them, due to going over the barriers explicitly telling people to stay back.

Also, despite this area’s hot summers, the season is brief near the lake. Snow lingers up here, sometimes until late June and early July. So, pack a jacket just in case, even if it is blazing summer lower down.

5 – Ecola State Park: Oregon Hiking

Ecola State Park contains 9 miles of coastline between Cannon Beach and Seaside. There are several popular trails in this beautiful place, including 8 of the 362 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail. But the public’s favorite is the Clatsop Loop Trail. However, like anywhere in Oregon, this area can be subjected to closures thanks to nature’s ever-changing moods.

6 – Humbug Mountain State Park: Oregon Hiking

Humbug Mountain State Park is another Southern Oregon treasure. It has many trails, a fair chunk short and easy. However, one of the best is the Humbug Mountain Loop Trail. It has such beautiful views of the rugged coastline.

While the 5.5 miles of the loop is only rated as moderate in difficulty, those with the wrong gear do get frustrated. This is a high rainfall area, so yes, there can be mud and sometimes rain, so pack and prepare appropriately.  

7 – Mt. Hood National Forest & Romana Falls: Oregon Hiking

The Mt. Hood National Forest is a pleasure to enjoy throughout the year. The picturesque mountain is stunning to look at and a source of great hikes and excellent skiing. The 7-mile hike to Ramona Falls is a popular must-see attraction. While it isn’t a strenuous hike, it can have some unexpected challenges, such as crossing over logs. Wear good hiking boots.

If gazing at the mountain near a peaceful lake is more your thing, then two fairly mild hikes are the loops around Mirror Lake and Trillium Lake. Take lots of pictures.  

8 – Multnomah Falls: Oregon Hiking

Multnomah Falls is a spectacular sight, which is why it is so popular you have to reserve tickets to see it from June-September. Thus, Oregonians have mixed feelings about this spot. Yes, it is utterly amazing to behold. Also, there are accessible, paved areas and services such as flush toilets, gift shop, snack bar, restaurant with elevator access, and a visitor center. This allows people of all ages and mobility to enjoy it, which is wonderful.

However, it no longer feels like visiting the wilderness but more like going to an outdoor museum or zoo. It’s crowded. So perhaps this one is less of a “best hike” and more of a “must-see natural wonder.” Because if you are a dedicated hiker, you’ll probably find more joy in smaller but more hidden waterfalls. Even so, Multnomah puts on a grand show.

9 – Oregon Desert Trail: Oregon Hiking

If long hikes such as the PCT and the Oregon Coast Trail have become too trendy for your hiking boots, then consider the Oregon Desert Trail. This unique experience begins in the Badlands Wilderness, near Bend. Most people do only a portion, but if you fancy tackling the entire 750 miles, do note you’ll need a permit for the section in the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.

This strenuous hike requires people to be fit and have experience, including excellent navigation skills. It is full of wildlife, including pronghorn and wild horses. It’s also perfect for those who enjoy secluded wilderness, as this is far from a popular hike. But it is truly a special place, taking you through river canyons, grasslands, and subalpine forests.

10 – Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): Oregon Hiking

The Pacific Crest Trail has become famous ever since Cheryl Strayed wrote her book to movie memoir Wild. Oregon is the shortest section of the PCT, around 460 miles, and to many, the easiest. The hike crisscrosses and joins other well-known routes. It takes hikers as low as 170 feet, up (mostly) dormant volcanic mountains, and through plenty of forest.

This is an excellent option if you can only do one slice of the PCT.

11 – Rogue River Trail: Oregon Hiking

The Rogue River Trail is for seasoned multi-day hikers that love the wilderness, understand how to safely co-exist with wildlife, such as bears, and have a good handle on being out on their own. For those who enjoy a challenge, the rewards are immense and unforgettable.

The route is over 40 miles, the exact length depending on the site you consult and how you tackle it, as there are side hikes going along tributaries and forks. Some people get permits to float down then do the hike back up. There are also lodges along the trail that can give you a roof if you desire, but book in advance. But regardless of how you do it, it’s worth it.

12 – Smith Rock State Park & Misery Ridge: Oregon Hiking

Smith Rock State Park is a gorgeous option for people in the Bend area who like the idea of the Oregon Desert Trail but don’t have 5-7 weeks to do it, lack the skill, or both. While there is much to experience, the can’t-miss hike is Misery Ridge Trail Loop.

Misery is less than 4 miles long and a pleasure to do despite the name. However, there are switchbacks, altitude, and uneven terrain, so it does take some effort. The name comes from the days of traveling by wagon. What might be a pleasant day hike can be distinctly unpleasant on antique transport.

13 – Steens Mountain: Oregon Hiking

Steens Mountain (yes, just the one) is part of an incredible and unique aired landscape. This area is also home to a unique breed of wild horses, the Kiger Mustangs, which the BLM manages.

A very popular way to enjoy this place is by taking part in the Chris Miller Memorial Steens Rim Run & Walk. It is only 10K, but you do gain 2,000 feet in that short distance. But while it isn’t easy, the route is on a well-maintained gravel road. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be presented with unforgeable panoramic views.

For those with more time and even greater stamina, there is the 52-mile Steens Mountain Loop. The difficulty varies from moderate to difficult, depending on the time of year, conditions, and which sections you pick, as there are a few route options. 

14 – Silver Falls State Park: Oregon Hiking

If you are a waterfall junkie, then Silver Falls State Park is for you. In a single loop of around 8 miles, there are 10 waterfalls to behold. The moderate level Trail of Ten Falls is far from the only hike in this park, but it is obvious why this one is the favorite. It’s stunning. Not much more needs to be said.

15 – The Knoll (God’s Thumb): Oregon Hiking

The Knoll is a meandering and steep trail with patches of mud that takes you to an endearing local landmark dubbed “God’s Thumb.” It’s a great viewpoint, with expansive views down the Oregon Coast towards Lincoln City, that you reach by going through a fresh-smelling forest. Locals love this spot, and now you might too.

16 – Three Sisters Loop: Oregon Hiking

The Three Sisters Loop has at least two versions, both over 45 miles long. The first is the Northern Three Sisters Loop, and the second is via the Green Lakes Trail. Both are hard yet rewarding, with magnificent views in an extraordinary place. However, both require you to be a seasoned hiker with excellent skills, including in navigation.

Due to changes in 2021, you may need permits for particular sections, so do check before heading out. Also, be aware that this area has a small window of access, typically July-October depending on conditions.