OREGON HIKES: YOUR GO-TO GUIDE
Southern Oregon is a playground of fun outdoor activities, with a variety of hiking trails. Many people love the variety of hikes, maybe you’re one of them, and that’s what you’re planning on doing. But you don’t want to waste your time missing out on some of the best hiking destinations in Southern Oregon. Whether you want to see waterfalls, rivers, or immense greenery, Oregon hikes can offer all of those. Let’s spend a little time exploring the best of the best Oregon hikes and why Southern Oregon hikes are the best of the best. Let’s get hiking!
Oregon Hikes Etiquette
First things first before we start hiking, the rules for everyone’s safety. What is hiking etiquette? Trail etiquette is incredibly important in the Pacific Northwest as more and more people make their way to the various different trailheads that dot the area. While you’re out enjoying the many wonders of the Oregon hikes trails, don’t forget that many of these trails are protected forest reserves and come with etiquette that you are expected to follow. Keep all of these in mind on any Oregon hike you go out on:
- Pick up litter, whether or not it was you, help keep the area clean
- Do not pick flowers and plants. We want them to be able to be enjoyed by everyone in their natural habitat.
- Do not create your own trails or ‘switchbacks’. These increase soil erosion and confusing multiple paths for other hikers.
- Do not snowshoe in ski tracks
- Step off or away from the trail to adjust clothing, etc.
- Get off the trail on the downhill side when approved livestock approach. Quietly greet the rider and ask if you are ok where you are. Hold still, but do not hide, until they are past. Speaking softly in a calm voice will help livestock identify you as human and not a “pack monster.”
- Always yield to the uphill hiker. Hikers that are making their way uphill are working hard and should be given the right of way from downhill hikers. If they don’t want the right of way, they will let you know.
- There are often times lots of things happening and take in while you are on various Oregon hikes. But always keep a general awareness of everything going on around you. Otherwise you may get too caught up in the beauty that you see on Oregon hikes and taking photos, that you could lose track of the trail, your fellow hikers, and the conditions on the trailhead.
- Leave nothing behind including compostables like apple cores and toilet paper.
- The technological world that we live in makes it hard to shut off sometimes, especially when taking your music into the world. While the majority of people love listening to music, everyone wants to take advantage of the sounds of nature while on a hike. So if you want to listen to music while on one of Oregon’s hikes, bring your headphones.
- Often times you may see a trail closure on Oregon hikes. Trail closures are put in effect for your own safety. When you cross into closed areas it can put you in a dangerous situation, which could end with injury or require a rescue. And no one wants that when you’re enjoying nature with one of the many Oregon hikes. This could end up extending the closure or worse, lead to stricter closures in the future.
Why Southern Oregon Hikes?
Now, many people may ask this question: why hike in Southern Oregon? Well, aside from the singular beauty that is unspoken, Southern Oregon is built for this entertainment. As the area can boast of the closeness to Crater Lake, and in the heart of the Cascades, there’s a lot of activity going on under the surface. Let’s discuss these two main reasons why Oregon hikes are immensely popular.
Crater Lake was caused by the explosion of the volcano, Mount Mazama, believed to be around 7,700 years ago. This had a profound impact on the surrounding area, moving and shaking up the very foundations of the area.
The Cascades Mountain Range are part of the American Cordillera which is a collection of nearly continuous mountain ranges that form what we consider to be the backbone of North America, Central America, and South America. The Cascades are also part of the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire, a series of volcanoes and their surrounding mountain ranges. So there’s a lot of underground work constantly happening to make some of the best hiking trails in this ever changing location.
Now that you know the why, let’s go over where you should go. We’re going to go over some of the most stunning hikes in Southern Oregon and help you narrow down which Oregon hike is best for you.
Grizzly Peak Trail is definitely an Oregon hikes must try. This hike is located about an hour west of Klamath Falls. Grizzly Peak is one of Southern Oregon’s best-known trails, a spot where many locals acquired their passion for the activity.
This Oregon hikes trail is 4.7 miles long and the majority of people you will see are either hiking or trail running. The trail is in best condition during the months of May through November. Also no need to fear if you are bringing along your furry friends to take part in Oregon hikes with you as dogs are also able to use this trail.
The area that Grizzly Peaks is in is often called part of the “Old Cascades,” and it features vibrant meadows that are covered with wildflowers. The hike to the top follows a 5½ mile loop. This loop passes by a recovery area for charred trees from the East Antelope fire in 2003.
This trail is considered to be moderate difficulty, but rewards you with spectacular views of Southern Oregon.
Each year more than 10,000 visitors find their way to the Table Rocks. Formed over seven million years ago from a volcanic explosion at Mt. Olsen, Table Rocks is now home to hundreds of rare bird and plant species and varied landscapes that visitors of all ages can appreciate some of which are hardwood forests, volcanic features, and cliffs. There is also a long and interesting tribal history related to area.
You will experience stunning views from the cliffs that extend across the Rogue River to the Siskiyou’s and the Cascades. No animals are allowed on either trail, so leave dogs and horses at home. It is also strictly prohibited to burn fires or pick any flowers on both Table Rocks trails.
The spring months are often considered the best time to hike for a few reasons. Spring offers the best time to view the many different wild flowers and migratory birds. Also during the spring months, you can join the Nature Conservancy on one of the interpretive hikes through Table Rocks. One thing to keep in mind: In the summer, the trails can be extremely HOT, due to elevation, and there is no water, so bring plenty to drink.
Lemolo Falls Trail is one of the most stunning Southern Oregon hikes culminating with a waterfall. This is a 3.2 mile moderately trafficked trail a little over an hour away from Klamath Falls near Clearwater. This Oregon hikes trail with a waterfall is considered to be moderate difficulty.
This Oregon hikes trail is primarily used year round for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding. But the best time to get glimpses of the waterfall and have optimal trail conditions are from June until September.
Also, this is another great place to take your furry companion. Dogs are also able to use this trail but remember they must be kept on a leash.
Lemolo Falls is located in the Umpqua National Forest. The hike does require you to hike doing a steep decline into the awaiting canyon below. At this point, you will find the impressive 165-foot waterfall that gushes over the basalt cliffs. This creates a lush, green landscape around the base well worth the photo opportunity. The word ‘Lemolo’ is of Chinook etymology which translates to “wild” or “untamed.” This is a fitting name for the massive waterfall that traces water from the North Umpqua River.
The spray of the water and the cool environment at the base of the falls makes for a great place to relax on a hot summer day, enjoy the nearby wildlife or simply enjoy the grandeur of this stunning waterfall.
You have two hike trails to choose from that both lead to the waterfall. The first is the Lemolo Falls Trail 1468 which approaches from the north of the waterfall. This trailhead is harder to reach and this Oregon hikes trail is steeper and sometimes blocked by downed trees or landslides. But this shouldn’t put you off from the north approach as it leads you all the way to the base of the falls for a stunning view of the canyon.
The other trail you can choose is the North Umpqua Trail 1414 and this Oregon hikes trail approaches from the south of the waterfall. This Oregon hikes trail is easier to get to and the hike follows the river while being a more gradual decline. This trail is also muddier though and stays along the top of the canyon with no real trail down that leads down the canyon.
Whichever trail you pick will grant you an incredible view of the waterfall. Both of these Oregon hikes trailheads are close enough that you can do both of them.
Tips and Tools to Bring
While many people know the ins and outs of all things hiking, let’s go over a few things you will want to bring with you that you may not have thought of.
- A well packed lunch and snacks to give you energy through the day
- Plenty of water, enough that you can carry but try for at least 3 liters
- A comfortable backpack/something to carry your things easily
- A camera to capture all your memories
- Hiking sticks/poles for the especially difficult trails
- Sunscreen for all times of year
- Binoculars to get a closer look around
- Insect repellant (those bugs don’t go away)
- Any medications you regularly take or may need
And all of the 10+ Essentials
- Extra food/water/clothing
- Flashlight and extra battery
- Lighter/matches/fire starter in waterproof container (if the area allows for fires)
- First aid kit
- Pocket knife or similar tool
- Sunglasses and did we mention sunscreen?
- Map and compass
- Space/emergency blanket
- Toilet paper/small shovel
- And your cell phones
With all of these tools at your disposal to use, you’re ready to head out and hit the Southern Oregon Hikes trails and have the most memorable and safest time possible.
Explore with Oregon Hikes
Whether you are a hiking expert or a hiking novice, you will find plenty to enjoy when you explore Southern Oregon. There’s such a variety of hikes to take from waterfalls, to meadows, to stony paths. Whatever you find your personal favorite, you will understand why Oregon is one of the premier hiking destinations in the United States. For more hikes, and other fun things to try while on your Southern Oregon vacation check out Klamath Falls and Crater Lake. Oregon hikes have many offerings, but for a true immersion in all the wonders of Southern Oregon, try any or all of these hikes. We’ll see you on the trails!