The Middle Fork Willamette Trail is a beautiful, multi-purpose trail that winds through numerous and diverse ecosystems as it follows the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. With over 27 miles of trail and multiple, easily accessible points along Forest Service Road 21, you can make your adventure as long or short, and as easy or difficult, as you choose. There are plenty of opportunities for viewing a variety of plants and wildlife. Fishing and swimming holes can be found along the way, which make for nice breaks during a hike. The elevation change is pretty dramatic at the start of the hike, and the trail levels out the farther downstream you travel. Some of the trail can be muddy or slippery depending on the recent weather and water flow from small creeks that feed into the river. Part of the trail is marked with wooden diamonds with a bird carved in them to help keep you on track.
Signs of past wildfires can be seen along the trail, both near and far. Wildfires can be destructive, but also beneficial to ecosystems that thrive on the pattern of change and renewal. Hiking along the trail, the stark contrast between lush green forest and the charred, black stumps can be breathtaking. Nestled among the remains of tress you can see bright fireweed and other wildflowers blooming.
Campgrounds close to the trail include Secret, Campers Flat, Sacandaga, Indigo Springs, and Sand Prairie. All campgrounds are managed by the Forest Service. The trail crosses the river at different points, and it is not always on the same side as the campgrounds. There are some backcountry campsites along the trail and at most of the trailheads. If you are looking for a one-way, longer hike, it is possible to leave a car at Sand Prairie Campground overnight in the day use parking lot.
There are very few people along the trail, but watch for mountain bikers and equestrians who also utilize the beautiful area.