Happy New Year, Oregon!
If you’re like us and one of your New Year’s resolutions involves enjoying the outdoors, we want to help you start your winter hike or ride off right.
Winter can be hard on our dirt trails; rainy weather makes them soft, muddy and easily damaged. So we’ve rounded up the best paved or gravel trails to enjoy in state parks during the winter months.
Note: You can still hike or ride on dirt trails during the winter, but make sure you’re being a good trail steward too. If you’re leaving footprints or tire ruts in the trail, please stop and turn around.
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Enjoy 21 miles of wooded solitude on this paved trail that stretches between the cities of Banks and Vernonia, and passes through L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park. Check out a trail map.
Champoeg State Heritage Area
Champoeg is a popular spot just north of Salem and boasts a four-mile bike trail that winds through the park and along the banks of the Willamette River. Hikers can peruse the park’s Riverbend Day-use area, or stroll around to view the several historic sites. Check out a general park map or a map of the historic sites.
Exploring the HCRHST is a fantastic way to see the Columbia River Gorge in all its winter splendor. The 19+ mile trail is split into three disconnected segments; our favorite winter hike or ride is the 5-mile stretch between Moiser and Hood River. View a biking map of the HCRHST to plan your trip.
OC&E trail is southern Oregon's rails-to-trail gem. For an easier hike, try the 7.6 mile “urban section” of the trail between Klamath Falls and Olene. Those thirsty for more adventure can tackle the gravel and loose rock sections of trail, which total just over 100 miles. Obviously, it’s a long trail and can get quite remote, so pack extra supplies and consult the trail map before your trip.
Pilot Butte State Scenic ViewpointPilot Butte is a central Oregon staple and popular recreation spot for Bend residents. The road to the summit it closed to vehicles during the winter, but the parking lot on the eastern side of the butte remains open, allowing access to the paved Larkspur Trail. You can also access the summit via the road, but watch out for snow and ice. View a trail map for Pilot Butte.
South Beach State Park
South Beach is a great location for a winter walk or ride on the coast. Start in the day-use area parking lot and travel the paved, flat 10-foot wide trail that terminates at South Jetty Road. On the way, take a detour towards the ocean on the park’s interpretive boardwalk.