Middle Fork Willamette Trail

Middle Fork Willamette Trail 

Willamette National Forest 

Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Distance: 27 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet
Best time to go: All year in lower elevation sections, June-October in higher elevation

About this Hike 

Whether you take on the entire 27 miles or opt for a shorter day hike, this scenic trail has a lot to offer. The rushing Middle Fork Willamette River parallels most of the trail that winds through an old-growth forest of Douglas fir, western hemlock, red cedar and alder. The trail passes multiple springs, and steepens as it climbs to Timpanogas Lake (the official source of the Willamette River). 

About the Area

By following the river, the Middle Fork Willamette Trail avoids the maze of roads and clearcuts in the upper Willamette watershed, which is one of the most heavily logged areas in the Cascades. It also avoids the three man-made reservoirs on the river, which were created in the '50s and '60s. The upper section of the trail was the route of the Oregon Central Military Road, which linked the Willamette Valley with the Idaho Territory in the 1860s.

Getting There

There are multiple trailheads you can begin at, depending on how long of a hike you're taking. To get to the very beginning of the trail, follow the directions below. 

1. Take Willamette Highway 58, 1.3 miles east of Oakridge and turn south at a sign for Hills Creek Dam between mile markers 37 and 38. 

2. Continue for about 0.5 miles and turn right onto Road 21. 

3. There are various trailheads for the Middle Fork Willamette Trail, but the official beginning of the trail is near mile marker 12. 

Photo by Leon Werdinger