From easy nature walks to challenging mountain hikes, Marion County is home to a diverse range of hiking trails, making it the perfect place for hikers of all skill levels. The scenic views accompanying each trail, including waterfalls, meadows, and forests, provide beautiful backdrops as you enjoy a day out in the sunshine.
Silver Falls State Park
20024 Silver Falls Highway SE, Sublimity
It’s called the “crown jewel” of the Oregon State Parks system, and once you pay a visit to Marion County’s Silver Falls State Park, you’ll understand why! Its breathtaking beauty, boundless recreational opportunities, and historic presence keep this local park on the map as a standout scenic treasure nationally and internationally.
The park boasts several hiking trails, including the ever-popular, nationally-recognized Trail of Ten Falls. Along the journey on this particular trail, you’ll find the famous South Falls and see what a 177-foot curtain of water looks like from behind. Only here can you walk behind a magnificent waterfall such as this! Continue following the trail’s 7.2-mile loop, passing several other waterfalls along a rocky canyon and descending to a winding creek on the forest floor.
Silver Falls State Park has something for everyone, with 35 miles of backcountry trails, making any journey perfect for mountain biking, hiking, or horseback riding!
Opal Creek Wilderness Area
Forest Road 2209, Detroit
Hikers enjoying the many trails of Opal Creek Wilderness Area can expect to see old-growth forests, crystal-clear streams, and several cascading waterfalls along its 6.5 miles pathway known as the Opal Creek Trail. The area consists of eight trails totaling 36 miles in all. Those exploring the rest of the 20,454 acres of wilderness can expect to come across steep and rugged hillsides, making the trail what most consider to be moderately difficult. Despite the challenge, the views prove to be with the hike as the western portion of the area is dominated by two prominent peaks, Whetstone and Henline Mountains, which offer scenic vantage points, as they were once used as fire lookout sites.
Willamette Mission State Park
10991 Wheatland Road NE, Gervais
Wetlands, forests, rolling meadows, working farmland, and beautiful views of the Willamette River await hikers who trek the numerous trails within Willamette Mission State Park. Thanks to its diverse terrain and ecosystems within the park’s 1,300 acres, it has become a gorgeous retreat for birdwatchers, horseback riders, disc golfers, kayakers, and more. The park’s location, just eight miles north of Salem and only minutes from I-5, also makes it a convenient retreat for family picnics and even camping for those wanting to spend a night under the stars. Whether you spend the night or the day exploring and enjoying the sunshine, you’ll walk on historic grounds. The park marks the site of the original Willamette Mission, established in 1834, only to be washed away by a flood later in 1861.
Croisan Creek Trail
3723 Dogwood Drive S, Salem
Those looking for a more casual walk about any of Marion County’s beautiful trails should head over to Croisan Creek Trail, which is generally considered one of our communities’ accessible routes, taking an average of 43 minutes to complete. The woodsy “pocket trail” tucked into south Salem’s neighborhoods is about a mile long and has been a frequent favorite of joggers, dog walkers, bird watchers, and hikers since the 1970s. Follow the trail’s tranquil path and enjoy beautiful Croisan Creek and surrounding forest views as you complete the loop.
Champoeg State Heritage Area
8239 Champoeg Road NE, Saint Paul
Featuring a rare combination of history, nature, and recreation for hikers in the region is Champoeg State Heritage Area. Oregon’s first provisional government was formed by a historic vote at the site in 1843. This rich history earned the park a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. During your trek, you’ll pass historical landmarks and buildings as Champoeg’s forests, fields, and wetlands recreate the landscape of a bygone era.
Don’t forget to pack a picnic as there are plenty of great spots along the river and a multitude of picnic areas to relax at. Grab your binoculars to catch a glimpse of more than 130 bird species that call the area home, including seasonally nesting western bluebirds and acorn woodpeckers. If you want to add more fun to your walk as you enjoy the sunshine, head over to the area’s 18-hole disc golf course under the oak trees to play a round. Those seeking the water during their stroll can feel free to pack a tackle box, as there are plenty of places to fish from the dock or even kayak if the mood strikes. Those looking to stay the night and enjoy some nocturnal adventures are welcome to stop in at the area’s RV campsites or cabins or pack a bag and go camping, as it is open year-round.
Abiqua Falls Trail
Crooked Finger Road, NE, Scotts Mills
The highlight for hikers who set out on the Abiqua Falls Trail is the breathtaking Abiqua Falls itself. This 92-foot cascading beauty drops into a pool of water below in an incredible basalt column amphitheater, making it the perfect spot to relax after making the one-mile trek (or five miles, depending upon where you park along the trailhead). Thanks to the trail’s bumpy terrain, the journey will not be without its challenges. Hikers are urged to be especially careful when it’s been rainy or cold as it may cause muddy or icy conditions along the trail’s hills. Once you’ve made it to the falls, be sure to take a look around the entire bowl the waterfall sits in as its full of picture-perfect views, showcasing ferns clinging to the bowl’s dramatic cliffs, trees dripping with moss over the turquoise waters below. In the wintertime, the area is home to some seriously intense icicles along the cliff walls.
With so many fantastic hiking opportunities in Marion County, what are you waiting for? It’s time to lace up those shoes and hit the trails!