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Jonathan Stull | 02.14.2017

If there’s a bright center of the Willamette Valley, Eugene is it. The liberal enclave and home of the Oregon Ducks is an idyllic college town with access to wilderness a five-minute drive from the city center. The Mackenzie River, Spencer Butte, Mount Pisgah and the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail are just some of the adventures that Eugene can offer, many within city limits. The little college town epitomizes the lazy days of summer—but the summer season is not yet upon us.

But do not sleep on Oregon winters in Eugene. While the rain falls in the valley, snow falls at elevation, the forest beckons with a quiet escape, and the streams and rivers overflow from the basalt precipices scattered throughout the Willamette Valley and Cascades. Hike to a waterfall, snowshoe up Marys Peak, drop into singletrack in the forest...the winter in Eugene is your outdoor playground. Take advantage of some of our adventures!

Waterfall Hikes

  • Alsea Falls Recreation Area: The recreation area encompasses several waterfalls, so hikers have the freedom to mix and match for a short or long day as desired. The drops are modest by comparison to other falls near Eugene, so consider this an easy alternative or combine it with a mountain biking adventure on the Flow Trails.
  • Fall Creek Trail: While the waterfalls here are modest, the hike itself is hard to beat. In Fall Creek SRA outside of Dexter, it’s close to Eugene, and at 6 miles, it’s a complete day hike. In the winter, you may have this old growth to yourself.
  • Kentucky Falls: A short 4-mile hike that offers a vantage of three modest, but beautiful waterfalls. The trailhead is remote and access routes may be closed by logging activity, so plan accordingly.
  • Soda Creek Falls Trail: The short hike to Soda Creek Falls in Cascadia State Park is best reserved for the waterfall enthusiast, given the long drive from Eugene, but those who visit in the winter should find an enjoyable waterfall hike and other adventure opportunities to make the trip worthwhile.
  • Trestle Creek Falls: Upper Trestle Creek Falls, as its officially known, typically slows to a trickle during the summer, and it is best seen in the winter when the water flows fully. 
  • Brice Creek Trail: The trailhead to the Brice Creek Trail is right next to the Trestle Creek Falls Trailhead. The waterfalls along Brice Creek are modest, but the beauty of the forest makes this a wonderful warmup for Trestle Creek Falls.

Mountain Biking

  • Alsea Flow Trails: The winter rains in Oregon may muddy some trails, but not those at Alsea, part of a network built in 2013.
  • Carpenter Bypass Trails: Pet project of the Disciples of Dirt, the Whypass Trail System evolved out of casual trails used by local riders. Mostly singletrack with some jump trails.

Hot Springs

  • Terwilliger Hot Springs: The well-maintained hot springs along the Mackenzie River offer a variety of pools and temperatures in old-growth forest—a pristine setting for a soak. Warning: clothing optional.

Not to Be Forgotten

  • Diamond Creek/Diamond Creek Falls: Near Oakridge, Diamond Creek Falls is a spectacular 90-foot freefalling cascade that drops and additional 500 feet in its lower segment.
  • Gold Lake Sno-Park: East of Oakridge, Gold Lake Sno Park offers two spectacular snowshoes to Odell Overlook, a modest 3-miler to an overlook of Odell Lake, and Marilyn Lakes.


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