Outdoor Experiences Near Salem | Travel Salem | The Most Oregon Part of Oregon
Silver Falls State Park Catamount Biking - CalebWallace - Courtesy WVVA

COVID-19 Update

Editor’s Note: Some of the recreation offerings mentioned in this blog are currently inaccessible due to the wildfires that occurred in early September, including Detroit Lake, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area, Breitenbush and some areas of the North Santiam River. Also, please note that Marion & Polk Counties are in Phase 2 of Oregon’s re-opening plan. Non-essential travel is allowed throughout the majority of the region (except in the Santiam Canyon area due to wildfire clean-up and recovery). Face coverings are required in all indoor public places and outdoor areas where you cannot maintain a safe physical distance. To protect our communities, we ask everyone to follow Oregon's Safe+Strong guidelines. We're all in this together!

Updated October 21, 2020

Oregon is well-known for its outdoor adventures, and the Salem region is home to some of the most pristine natural wonders in the state. Whether you want to hike, bike, paddle or just want a little room to roam, here are some ideas to inspire your next outdoor experience:

Pedal Power

The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway - Oregon’s first designated scenic bikeway – begins at Champoeg State Heritage Area and winds through the Salem region, taking cyclists through verdant vineyards and lush farmland, with plenty of opportunities to stop at bike-friendly wineries, brewpubs and parks along the way. Or, choose one of the Mid-Willamette Valley’s many other road cycling routes, which range from easy to challenging and encourage riders to explore historic covered bridges, ferries, charming downtown areas and more. Mountain biking enthusiasts will not want to miss the wooden skinnies, ladders and jumps found at Blackrock Mountain Biking Area near Falls City.

On Your Feet

Did you know that Salem is home to a connected park system with a combined acreage that’s larger than Central Park in New York City? The Peter Courtney Minto Island Pedestrian Bridge links Minto-Brown Island Park to Salem’s Riverfront Park - which is linked to Wallace Marine Park via the Union Street Pedestrian Bridge – making it possible to explore more than 30 miles of trails within the Salem city limits. Near Dallas, the Rich Guadagno Memorial Trail Loop offers an easy, one-mile loop that serves as a great family trek through Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Oregon is known for its waterfall hikes and the Salem region offers a number of them. Head to Shellburg Road in the Santiam State Forest, where you can view both Upper and Lower Shellburg Falls. Hike the entire 4.1-mile loop and you’ll also see Stassel Falls. Near Monmouth, the Luckiamute Landing is a moderately trafficked 3.8-mile loop great for all skill levels.

Splish, Splash

Warm summer days are perfect for paddling, boating or swimming in the Salem region’s many accessible rivers and lakes. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, test your whitewater skills on a guided kayak or raft tour with eNRG Kayaking on the North Fork of the Santiam River, just east of Salem. For a more leisurely water adventure, head to Detroit Lake for fishing, boating, tubing, along with beautiful mountain views. Also near Detroit the Mongold Day Use area includes a swimming area, grass beach and boat ramp. Located just outside of the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area is Salmon Falls Park, where the Little North Fork of the Santiam River drops nearly 30 feet to a pool below. The area boasts towering old growth forests and is ideal for summer picnicking, fishing and water activities. In Salem, Woodward Surf Company rents out kayaks and paddleboards and offers a variety of guided trips on the Willamette River.

Drive Time

Waterfalls, historic covered bridges, wineries and beautiful scenery are also accessible in Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley from the comfort of your car. Take a meandering road trip along the Silver Falls Tour route to experience the tiny, Bavarian-themed town of Mount Angel and Silver Falls State Park, Oregon’s largest state park. Bird watchers will also want to explore the Willamette Valley Birding Trail for glimpses of some of the more than 360 species of birds found in Oregon.

Tips for Exploring Oregon’s Outdoors

  • Use a face covering. Face coverings are required in outdoor areas where physical distance cannot be maintained (i.e. congested trailheads).
  • Acquire the appropriate permits (a day-use permit is required in some areas).
  • Use a face covering. Face coverings are required in outdoor areas where physical distance cannot be maintained (i.e. congested trailheads).
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear (including sunglasses and sunscreen).
  • Carry plenty of water and snacks.
  • Bring a printed map (cell service is limited in some outdoor areas).
  • Help preserve Oregon’s natural spaces by following the principles outlined in the Take Care Out There initiative.