A mere 35-minute drive from Eugene, the South Willamette Trail provides a perfect opportunity for a moderate hike that can be tailored in length to suit one's aspirations. While the trail is open to horse and mountain bike riders, it is less frequented than other Oakridge-area trails, especially during weekdays.
Winding its way through old-growth forest, the trail is lush with a variety of ferns, including sword ferns, shield ferns, lady ferns, and several others. The trail is quite narrow close to the Eula Ridge Trailhead, and it opens up more as you approach the Goodman Creek Trailhead. Throughout the hike you'll cross many creeks via a variety of bridges, including an impressive moss-laden log bridge. The South Willamette Trail won't punish you with elevation gain like connected Eula Ridge and Hardesty trails. However, its ups and downs add significant cumulative elevation gain, making it a great conditioning hike for bigger adventures.
The South Willamette Trail offers several options for length. One can shorten the hike by leaving a second car, or even bicycle, at the Goodman Creek Trailhead or, for the truly adventurous, combine with the Hardesty and Eula Ridge Trails for a nearly 14-mile loop with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain.