Hike Mt. Hood, Columbia River Gorge, Mt. St. Helens, Oregon Beaches
These hiking guides tell you how to find the best of Oregon outdoors from the coast to lush evergreen forests to river canyons and the high desert.
Oregon is a paradise for outdoor lovers. The varied landscape offers dense evergreen forests, ocean beaches, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, high desert country, and deep gorges. But how do you get out into the thick of these settings?
It’s easy with the wealth of hiking guides now available. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a strenuous backpacking trip, the guides listed below can tell you where to find the best hikes near your home or vacation destination.
Many are indexed to allow you to quickly find the within a short driving distance and trails that are easy or strenuous, according to your skill. Almost all will list the hike length, level of difficulty, and elevation gain, plus driving directions to the trailhead. Most include maps.
100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, by William L. Sullivan (Navillus Press)
Although Southwest Washington is included here, all these hikes are within easy driving distance from Portland, Oregon. A favorite with local hikers, the book covers trails around Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, the Clackamas Foothills, and Mt. St. Helens.
For those visiting Portland with limited time, several hikes are listed right in the Portland area. The index tells the level of difficulty for each hike, plus its appropriateness for kids, bicycles and horses. It lists the seasons trails are open and any parking fees at the trailhead. Engaging descriptions are given for each hike, and maps are included. This book is part of a series that covers all of Oregon. Other titles include:
- 100 Hikes: Oregon Coast & Coast Range
- 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades
- 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon
- 100 Hikes in Oregon
Hiking Oregon, by Lizann Dunegan (Falcon Guide)
This is your guide for hiking in Oregon from the shore to the eastern mountains and the high desert country. From beach headlands to lush forests, wide-open spaces, and fossil beds, you’ll find 50 hikes to experience the state’s varied range of landscapes. Maps, difficulty level, best seasons, and directions are all included.
The author also has a series of regional Oregon hiking guides published by Falcon that are small and priced under $10. Yet each is packed with information that includes directions and exact mileage along trails so you’re sure not to get lost, plus best months to go and suitability for bringing dogs. The series includes:
- Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon
- Best Easy Day Hikes: Oregon’s North Coast
- Best Easy Day Hikes: Bend and Central Oregon
Day Hiking: Oregon Coast, by Bonnie Henderson (Mountaineers Books)
Some of these hikes take you right down on the beach. Others traverse hills hugging the coast or routes over the headland with ocean vistas. Some trek through the coast’s lush forests. It covers the Oregon Coast from the southern tip of Washington to the California border.
Descriptions of each hike and tips on what to look for are included. A good guide for coast lovers and compact enough to fit in your day pack.
Hiking the Columbia River Gorge, by Russ Schneider (Falcon Guide)
The Columbia Gorge is a National Scenic Area extending for 85 miles along both sides of the Columbia River. This book leads you to 50 hikes through the varied terrain rich with waterfalls, high vistas, and spring wildflowers.
Hikes are indexed by the degree of difficulty, plus descriptive categories, such as hikes for waterfall lovers and “those not scared of heights.” While some of the hikes are on the Washington side of the river, they’re easily accessed from Oregon destinations and favorites with Oregon hikers.
Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon, by Bonnie Henderson (Mountaineers Books)
Families will appreciate these 100 kid-friendly hikes throughout the state. The index listing provides highlights of each hike, plus length, difficulty (most are easy), seasons, and directions. The introduction offers suggestions for making hikes magical for children. Sidebars throughout the book profile plants, animals, and geology of the region.
On the “bests” lists you’ll find hikes where you can take a swim along the way, reach a summit or see the biggest trees. There’s also a list of “weirdest” hikes, such as one across a lava flow.
Oregon’s Best Wildflower Hikes: Southwest Region, by Elizabeth Horn and Oregon’s Best Wildflower Hikes: Northwest Region by George Wuerthner (Westcliffe Publishers)
Wildflower lovers will find the best spots to see blooming displays in these two books dedicated to specific regions of the state. Flower profiles and photos are included throughout, and each hike description details the flowers found along the route.
The blooming season for the various wildflowers, along with peak blooming times, are included. Information on trail difficulty and length, plus maps are provided.
Most of these guides can be purchased on-line from Amazon.com or from Powell’s Books.