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11 Most Incredible Hikes in Oregon: A Definitive Guide

11 Most Incredible Hikes in Oregon: A Definitive Guide

Wondering where to find the best hikes in Oregon?  We’ve got you covered. Here is our definitive list of the 17 best hikes in the state. Whether you’re looking for a short and sweet fall hike, a lengthy summer hike, or anything in between, it’s all covered here.

To many Oregonians, hiking and Oregon are practically synonymous. Hiking is a quintessential element of Oregon culture, and for good reason. The entire state is chock-full of incredible hiking opportunities, and the regional diversity of Oregon is one of the most dramatic of any state in the US. There are very few places where you can go from a lush coastal rainforest to an impressive mountain range and scenic high desert in just a few hours, but that’s reality for anyone adventuring across Oregon.

There’s no shortage of incredible hikes in the state. Here are, in no particular order, the top hikes in the state.

Green Lakes 

Round trip: 9.1 miles

Located: In Central Oregon, about an hour from Bend.

When to hike: Late spring through early fall.

We couldn’t talk about the best hikes in the state without mentioning the Green Lakes hike in Central Oregon. It’s a dazzling yet accessible day hike that’s an icon in the region for both backpackers and day hikers; as part of the Three Sisters Loop, you’ll likely encounter some long-distance backpackers on the trail.

At nine miles round-trip, Green lakes is a hike easily completed if you’ve got an entire morning or afternoon to spare, and the views are unparalleled. The hike ends up at a few dazzling lakes between South Sister and Broken Top, and the Green Lakes hike makes you feel like you’re at the center of it all.

Saddle Mountain

Round trip: 4.5 miles

Located: In the northern region of the Coast Range

When to hike: Year-round, but prime time is spring through fall

A spectacular hike that offers panoramic Coast Range views (which are accentuated by plenty of reds and yellows in the fall), Saddle Mountain is a great hike, especially due to its proximity to Portland. Saddle Mountain is one of the best hikes in Oregon for a reason: it’s short but exhilarating and offers what many would argue are the best views in the entire Coast Range.

At the top, you’ll be able to see the ocean, surrounding coastal peaks, and a number of the mountains in the Cascades if the day is clear enough. If you’re interested in learning more about this awesome hike, check out our piece about it here. 

Beacon Rock 

Round trip: 1.1 miles

Located: In the Columbia River Gorge

When to hike: Year-round; this is a great fall hike

This isn’t the only hike in the Columbia River Gorge that you’ll see on this list, as the region is one of the most spectacular in the entire state of Oregon, particularly for those who love chasing fall colors and waterfalls. The hike we’ve selected is the Beacon Rock hike in specific, a short jaunt to a jaw-dropping peak, but there are dozens of other trails in Beacon Rock State Park to enjoy.

If you like fall colors, this is one to check out during the fall. Though Oregon’s isn’t exactly known for having incredible fall foliage, the Beacon Rock hike (or any hike in the Columbia River Gorge, for that matter) is one of the best fall hikes in Oregon. Go check it out!

Broken Top and No Name Lake

Round trip: Between 6 and 14 miles, depending on which route you take

Located: In Central Oregon, about an hour from Bend.

When to hike: Late spring through early fall

Another hike we’ve written an article about here at Oregon Adventurer, the hike to Broken Top Crater and No Name Lake is one of the best hikes in the state. It’s not the easiest hike on this list, so plan for at least a full afternoon (or more) if you plan to head out, but Broken Top is a beautiful place.

The lake in the crater is an almost unnatural shade of teal, and it offers a refuge for swimmers wanting to cool off after a strenuous hike. Swim at your own risk, though: there is a dead herd of elk at the bottom of the lake that died a couple of years ago, so there could potentially be dangerous bacteria in the water. That being said, we’ve seen plenty of pictures of people swimming in the lake since, so some people don’t seem to mind it!

Dead elk or not, Broken Top is a dramatic hike that offers some of the best views in Central Oregon. If you’re trying to figure out where to hike in Oregon, make sure this one is at the top of your list.

Blue Pool (Tamolitch Falls)

Round trip: 3.7 miles

Located: On the Upper McKenzie River, east of Eugene

When to hike: Year-round, but best spring through fall

This hike to Blue Pool, more formally known as Tamolitch Falls, is one of the most photogenic hikes in Oregon. The Upper McKenzie river, which you’ll get well acquainted with as the trail sticks next to it most of the time, takes on a majestic shade of blue. The foliage and trail itself are also sights to behold, and you’ll probably end up stopping for photos a lot more than you’d planned on.

If you’ve got some spare time, go check out Clear Lake, which is less than half an hour away. It’s crystal clear, has petrified trees beneath the surface, and is one of the best places in Oregon to rent a kayak or have a picnic by the water.

Hurricane Creek 

Round trip: 19.1 miles

Located: In the Wallowa Mountain Range in Northeast Oregon

When to hike: Spring through fall

Located just about as far from any big city in Oregon as you can get, the Wallowas are one of the most spectacular regions in the entire state. Endless peaks, valleys, and lakes can make the Wallowas feel more like the type of scenery you’d find in the dramatic mountainous regions of Washington.

The Hurricane Creek trail is one of the quintessential Wallowas hikes; you’ll see mountains, forests, waterfalls, as well as a beautiful creek. You don’t have to do the whole trail in a day, as it’s a great one for backpacking. However, the first set of falls on Hurricane Creek are a great stopping place to turn back if you’re a day hiker.

Camp Lake and Chambers Lakes

Round trip: 13.5 miles

Located: In Central Oregon, near Sisters

When to hike: Late spring through early fall

This is one of the most underrated hikes in Oregon. It’s one of the best hikes in the state for a few reasons: you get up close and personal views with multiple towering mountains, meadows with wildflowers, multiple impressive lakes, and not very many people. All in all, the hike to Camp Lake (and Chambers Lakes, if you choose to continue on the trail), cannot be beat.

The elevation gain is subtle, the trail is well-maintained, and this trail pretty much has it all if you’re looking for a perfect, not-too-difficult, beautiful Central Oregon experience. 

Abiqua Falls

Round trip: 5.3 miles

Location: In Scotts Mills, not too far from Salem

When to hike: Year-round

A well-known hike close to Portland (and even closer to Salem), Abiqua Falls is a hike we’ve mentioned a few times before, because it’s just that good. The trail isn’t well-maintained and can be dangerous for some, but the falls at the end are unparalleled by almost any other waterfalls in Oregon. The Abiqua Falls hike is one of the best hikes in Oregon, and we’d recommend that you check it out, particularly if you like dramatic waterfalls.

The road to the trailhead can be a bit sketchy, and if you don’t have a high clearance vehicle, you can plan on parking further up the road and hiking in, which will add a few uneventful miles to your round-trip total. This is a popular hike during all seasons, but it’s particularly dramatic in the fall through spring, as the waterfall is more powerful and the trees are all sorts of incredible colors. 

Wildhorse Lake

Round trip: 2.5 miles

Location: In the Steens Mountains in Southeast Oregon

When to hike: Late spring through early fall

The Steens are probably the most remote region in Oregon. The Wallowas come close, but it’s hard to find another region as far away from any major city as the Steens Mountains are. The landscape is unforgiving and impressive, and there are essentially no signs of civilization to be found. With the Alvord Desert nearby, the Steens are one of our favorite areas of Oregon. An added bonus? Because they’re so far from any major city, most Oregon residents never venture all the way out to the Steens. This means you’ll have plenty of solitude on this hike to Wildhorse Lake, a solitary lake near the highest peak in the Steens.

To get there, you’ll experience what’s called by many to be the most beautiful drive in Oregon, and the hike to Wildhorse Lake is just as beautiful. If you’re looking for one of the best hikes in Oregon that offers markedly different scenery than the lush greenery of the rest of the state, the Steens might be a great choice.

Big Indian Gorge

Round trip: 16.9 miles

Location: In the Steens Mountains in Southeast Oregon

When to hike: Late spring through early fall

One of the most majestic views in the Steens Mountains – and, some may argue, the entire state of Oregon, the Big Indian Gorge hike is certainly one of the best hikes in the state. A perfect hike for those seeking solitude, this remote hike traverses through a massive gorge that defines much of the Steens mountain scenery.

As a bonus, head over to Wildhorse Lake after wrapping up at Big Indian Gorge to get another glimpse of the beauty the Steens have to offer.

Owyhee Canyonlands

Round trip: Whatever you want to make it.

Location: Eastern Oregon.

When to hike: Spring through fall.

We saved the most treacherous and unique hike for last. A massive wilderness more than a singular hiking trail, the Owyhee Canyonlands are one of the lesser-known regions in Oregon that warrant an adventure. Be warned, though: there are very few water sources in this region, and the sweltering heat in the summer can make this region one of the most dangerous in Oregon for an extended trip.

Danger aside, the Owyhee Canyonlands are one of the most spectacular regions in Oregon, and one of the best hikes in Oregon as well. This is a region where a tool like a LifeStraw really comes in handy.

We hope you thoroughly enjoyed reading this article as much as we did writing it. More importantly, we hope you’re pulling out your calendar right now and finding a time to explore each and every one of these hikes; they’re the best in the state.

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