One of the many great activities that Oregonians can do year-round, disc golf (formerly known as frisbee golf) is a sport that is accessible to people of all ages. Played with specific frisbee discs, the sport overall follows golf rules and terminology. Unlike golf, however, many disc golf courses do not require long greens and are often found in wooded areas. Most disc golf courses are located in public parks (and are thus free), and the discs themselves are not expensive, making it possible for families to play together, especially if the younger players don’t worry about trying to make par. Even if you’re not great at throwing the disc, a round of disc golf always involves some lovely scenery, a good walk, and pleasant company. So, head out and explore the fun of disc golf at one of these five fun courses around Salem.
Oregon State Hospital Disc Golf Course
2600 Center Street NE, Salem
This popular 9-hole course on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital is great for kids and beginners. It’s a pretty flat course, and the baskets are labeled, but tees can be a bit hard to find. (All are marked on the concrete paths). For first-timers, it would be helpful to consult the map.
The course has a great variety of older trees, both evergreen and deciduous, which can make some of the holes more challenging than they might be. Parking is easily accessible via Center Street. Keep in mind that this is a very popular course because of its proximity to downtown Salem, so it can get quite busy.
Woodmansee Park Disc Golf Course
4629 Sunnyside Road SE, Salem
Located in the heart of southeast Salem, just blocks off Commercial Street, this 9-hole course is tucked into the edges of Woodmansee Park. It is organized so that you can play each basket from one tee and then go back around again from the other tee to complete 18 holes. The park itself also includes a play structure, busy tennis and pickleball court, and ample parking.
Woodmansee Park is a par-3 course and friendly enough for beginners. Signage is good, and navigation is not an issue as it is on some courses. The terrain is mixed – some wooded areas and grassy fields, with elevation changes. One of its major issues is how popular it is, and it can get backed up or be hard to play because of people on the walking paths.
Cascades Gateway Disc Golf Course
2100 Turner Road SE, Salem
Created and maintained by the local disc golf course, Capitol City Disc Golf Club, this 18-hole course is located close to the intersection of I-5 and Highway 22. The layout is easy-to-follow and well-marked overall. There are a variety of different placements, but Cascades Gateway’s course overall is pretty flat. Many golfers have reported trouble accessing holes because of encampments, so anyone planning to visit should know that accessibility is an issue.
Keizer Rapids Park Disc Golf Course
2010 Chemawa Road N, Keizer
This pleasant park just north of Salem has a great play structure, Willamette River access, a dog park, walking trails, and an 18-hole disc golf course. The setting for this course is quite beautiful. There is good parking access to the first hole (and 18th), and the course winds through a forested area and a more open scrubby landscape. Two holes (12 and 13) have water hazards, so beware! It’s a 54-par course, and navigation can be a bit challenging.
Some golfers have reported poison oak at Keizer Rapids Disc Golf Course, which is yet another hazard to avoid. There’s a practice hole at the beginning, and the first hole is well-marked. There is a course map, which would be helpful to any first-timers. Some holes are pretty challenging, so be aware that this would be most appropriate for those with some experience.
Wheatland Disc Golf Course
Wheatland Road North East, Gervais
Located outside Salem (take Hwy 221 out of West Salem), the Wheatland Disc Golf course is a very popular 18-hole course. Located inside the Willamette Mission State Park, entrance requires a $5 day use fee for parking. The park is 1,300 acres and includes areas for horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and camping in addition to the typical park fare of walking and picnicking. The disc golf course is in an old hazelnut orchard and is a relatively flat course throughout.
The holes at Wheatland Disc Golf Course are a mix of par 4s and 5s, and overall the course is well-marked. Many golfers like how varied the holes are, as well as the level of challenge. It’s not a good course for beginners because of how long and complicated some holes are. Overall, an excellent course for more advanced players and is popular throughout the Mid-Valley.