The Pacific Northwest is known for its amazing outdoor activities, and Oregon is no exception. The best Oregon hiking trails feature waterfalls, stunning views, and excitement. Take a journey with us through the beautiful state of Oregon to explore the best places to take a hike.
Our Favorite Oregon hiking Trails
Tokatee Falls- Greatest Views from one of the Best Oregon Hiking Trails
The Tokatee Falls trail is high on our list of best hiking trails in Oregon. It leads to a stunning two-tiered waterfall on the North Umpqua River. The short out and back trail covers 0.8 miles with a slight incline on the first half and a decline into a large wooden staircase on the latter half.
Once you descend the immense staircase the trail dead ends into a tree house style viewing platform. The platform offers an almost head on view of the blue water plunging down the tiers of the fall before it streams back into the trees.
Located in the Umpqua National Forest, outside of Roseburg, Tokatee falls is fairly easy to access and parking spots are plenty.
The trail is moderately trafficked, especially during the summer months. But during our visit in mid-February, not a single soul was to be found. The Tokatee Falls trail is a moderate hike with inclines and a lot of stairs.
McDowell Creek Falls Trails
The McDowell Creek trails are a great way to spend a few hours with family and friends. The trails lead to not one, but two beautiful waterfalls.
During the rainy months the falls surge with rushing water, blocking out all background noise to create a serene moment for hikers. In the summer the waterfalls are more of a large trickle, with rocks and outcroppings that once hid behind the roaring water, now visible.
The Royal Terrace Falls is the larger of the two falls at 119 feet tall. The water tumbles and splashes down the terraced rock outcroppings.
A large footbridge allows you to easily snap photos from the base of the falls, or stand and soak in the beauty for a bit. A steep stone staircase will bring you to the top of the falls, but it is not for those wobbly on stairs or with a fear of heights.
The second waterfall on the trail is Majestic Falls, standing at 39 feet tall. While Majestic Falls is smaller, it puts McDowell Creek on our list of best Oregon hiking trails. In front of and adorning Majestic Falls is a magnificent wooden staircase and boardwalk. The contrast of nature’s handiwork paired with the natural woodwork of mans’ handiwork creates a beautiful scene.
This best Oregon hiking trail is a loop of a little over one and a half miles. The trail can be accessed from trail heads near either of the falls. If you’re short on time, you can access both falls directly from their trail heads with just a short walk.
McDowell Creek Falls is a moderate trail if you decide to hike the entire loop. There are inclines, stairs, and uneven ground. The short walks to the falls are rated as easy.
This Oregon hiking place is heavily trafficked in the summer months and mild to moderately trafficked in the wetter months. Parking is plentiful and the trailheads can be accessed outside of Sweet Home.
Alsea Falls- Yet Another Waterfall on the list of Best Oregon Hiking Trails
Alsea Falls Trail is another Oregon hiking place that leads to two waterfalls. The trailhead begins a half mile from the Alsea campground. The trailhead has restrooms and picnic areas.
Shortly after you enter the trail, you will stumble upon the 30 foot tall Alsea Falls. From there the trail continues through old growth forests of large trees to the 45-foot tall Green Peak Falls. We got adventurous at Green Peak Falls and used ropes tied at the top to climb our way up to the start of the falls for additional views.
Unfortunately, not many people make it much past Alsea Falls while hiking this best Oregon hiking trail. You are really missing out if you do not take the 2.8 mile out and back trail to Green Peak Falls! While the falls are magnificent, you’ll also encounter some old-growth trees.
The Alsea and Green Peak trails are fairly easy with some moderation in slope and uneven ground. The traffic is heavy the closer to the trailhead you are.
In our experience, by the time we arrived at Green Peak Falls, no one had been in sight for a while. This worked out in our favor. I don’t think any of us would have attempted our ungraceful scrabble to the top of the falls if we had spectators.
Drift Creek Falls- The Most Famous of the Best of Oregon Hiking Trails
Drift Creek falls is a moderate 2.6 mile out and back trail that ends in (you guessed it,) another waterfall, and a surprise. After walking through dense forest and working your way around large trees, the sky seems to open, and Drift Creek Bridge comes into view.
100 feet above the river below, the 240-foot long Drift Creek Suspension Bridge stands tall. The bridge provides a suspenseful way to view the falls and river below. As you walk, the structure beneath sways a bit with each step.
Once on the other side of the bridge, you can choose to make your way down the staircase for a view of the falls from a new angle. At the bottom, a pool of water has formed that can be used for fishing and swimming in the warmer months. Picnic tables provide a place to sit to take in the beauty.
Once you have absorbed the splendor and surprise of Drift Creek Falls and Suspension Bridge, you can hike back the way you came on one of the best Oregon hiking trails, or take the fork to the right to complete the Drift Creek Falls Loop.
The trailhead has a vault restroom and limited parking. The trail itself is heavily trafficked and has some inclines and declines.
Sahalie and Koosah Falls- a Section of the McKenzie River Recreational Trail
During our experience on the short 2.6 mile Waterfall Loop Trail, we experienced waterfalls, awe inspiring talent, drones and some crazy stunts.
The trail begins in old growth timber with wide trees and quickly opens up to the top of Sahalie Falls. The overlook looks straight down the falls with stone walls to keep you from getting too close.
Besides the obvious and natural beauty of the falls themselves, we witnessed some daredevils slacklining 100 feet above the cascading water. We stood for a bit watching the water as a young woman strapped onto the lines and slid her way out directly in front of the falls.
We left the small crowd observing the daredevil feat and headed back onto the Waterfall Loop trail. The trail continues up for bit before crossing a bridge and turning left. You then find yourself on the opposite side of the river and Sahalie Falls.
From this side of Sahalie Falls on this best Oregon hiking trail, we watched yet another slackliner testing their skill. He was not just hanging from the line, but attempting to stand and tight rope walk. As he’d lose his balance he would gracefully slip off the line and trust it to catch him.
This kind of lack of fear was too much for us to take so we went back down the trail. From there, we followed the river until we came to a partially blocked view of the lower Koosah Falls.
To get a better view it is best to have faith and keep following the trail down, around, and back up to Koosah Falls on the other side. More stone walls offer safe viewing points of the 70-foot tall falls.
During our hike, some Evel Knievel wannabes were getting ready to cliff jump down the falls with a drone hovering at the ready for filming purposes. We again took in the beauty of the falls while we waited for the man to get the nerve to jump. We then held our breath as he took the leap and plunged deep into the water before popping back up again.
To finish the loop, the trail continues up the hill and stops at the bottom of Sahalie Falls before ending at the starting point, the parking lot.
Parking is limited at this best Oregon hiking trail, but there are vault restrooms. The trail is moderately to heavily trafficked depending on the weather and part of the trail you are on. If you would like to shorten your hike, you can forgo the loop and hike down to Koosah Falls, and up to Sahalie Falls.
Tamolitch Blue Pool- The Best Oregon Hiking Trail without a Waterfall
The Tamolitch Blue Pool trail is another Oregon hiking place on the section of the McKenzie River Recreational Trail. The 3.7 mile out and back trail begins in old growth timber and soon shows the diverse landscapes this hike takes you through.
The trail leads you through the forest and soon into dry and rock terrain with a cliff to your right. Shortly after, the rocky terrain turns into an old lava flow with the rocks changing shape and texture. The trail dead ends as you stumble upon the cliff above the Tamolitch Blue Pool.
The Tamolitch is really blue. The water is crystal clear, and you can see all the way through the blue water to the rocky floor beneath. If you would like to reach the shore and go for a very cold swim, steep embankments down the side will get you there.
The trail itself is rocky in areas, but not difficult. The trail has moderate to heavy traffic, especially in the summer. Parking is limited on this best Oregon hiking trail, and no restrooms are available.
Trail of 10 waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park
We recently hiked the entire Trail of 10 Waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park. The 7.2 mile loop takes you past or even behind 10 different and distinct waterfalls. The trail begins in dense Willamette Valley forest and make its way through canyons and creek floors.
Pets are NOT allowed on this moderate hike. The trail is typically heavily trafficked. Restrooms can be found at the trail heads of this Oregon hiking place.
The Painted Hills- a Unique Oregon Hiking Place
The Painted Hills near John Day Oregon offer one of the best hiking trails in Oregon, that is less than 1/4 mile. Truthfully, the trails can total 1.6 miles, but if you need a short hike, the hills can be explored on the 1/4 mile boardwalk trail through the colorful hills.
This unique Oregon hiking place is adorned in rolling hills streaked with oranges, yellows, and reds. The Painted Hills were created 35 million years ago when this area was full of volcanic activity and ever-changing weather patterns. Each color and stripe on the mottled landscape represents a different geological era and soil type.
The hiking itself is easy here, and perfect for all ages.
It is important to know this hiking destination is a bit in the middle of nowhere, but there are restrooms and places to fill up water jugs at one of the trail heads (during the warmer months.) Additionally, there is a museum which goes over the fossils and geological conditions of the area nearby.
Mosier Twin Tunnels- One of the Best Hiking Trails in Oregon for History Buffs
The Mosier Twin Tunnels hike takes you along a cliff above the Columbia River, and ends with two tunnels that were originally apart of the old Highway 30. Highway 30 used to be the main highway through the area. It was full of twists and turns, dips, and hills as it followed the path of the river.
Today, 84 runs through the area, and pieces of the old highway were left abandoned for decades. Recently, sections long forgotten have been rediscovered, and turned into some of the best hiking trails in Oregon that also double as biking trails.
During this process, the hand built tunnels were found partially collapsed. Massive efforts were deployed to save the historic tunnels and make them apart of the trail system. Today, You can hike to the Mosier Twin Tunnels with just an easy stroll on the paved path.
The tunnels are about 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead. On the way there, you will be greeted by a slight incline and views of the Columbia. The trail does not have any shade until the tunnels, so be sure to plan accordingly on hit days.
For more info about hiking the Mosier Twin Tunnels, click here.
Horsetail and Ponytail Falls
The “hike” to Horsetail Falls cannot be considered a hike, but more a jaunt across the road. I’m not kidding, Horsetail Falls is directly on Highway 30, across the street from the trailhead parking lot.
Ponytail Falls on the other hand, which is the upper fall of this system, can indeed officially be added to our list of best hiking trails in Oregon. This hike is steep, and quite the workout, but the energy you burn will be worth it once you make it to the falls.
Once you have traversed the steep inclines, and switchbacks of this moderate hike, you will be awarded with Ponytail Falls. This waterfall crashes down in front of a large cavernous cave you can walk into. From there, the water flows downriver a bit, before dropping off the cliff and making its way to Horse tail Falls below.
This hike is moderate, a bit steep, and has some sections in the hot sun. The hike totals just under a mile total, and is an out and back style trail. If you wish to hike further after the falls, simply follow the same trail for an additional 7/10ths of a mile to lower Oneonta Falls.
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