Undiscovered, unlimited, an
ultimate outdoor living experience, in
Oakridge you can pick a sport or activity and dive in! Bike, hike, swim, ski,
boat, fish, hunt and try birding, huckleberry picking or mushroom hunting.
Nestled in the
foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and surrounded
by the Willamette National Forest, pristine rivers run through the
heart of one of Oregon's
most beautiful valleys. The area is rich in geologic,
historic, scenic, and recreational opportunities.
Those who have discovered it know they have found paradise. Head northwest for easy
access to Eugene and Springfield;
head southeast and enjoy the winter sports of the Willamette Pass
area. Everywhere around you you’ll find biking, hiking, boating, birding,
hunting, fishing and just about any other form of outdoor recreation you
choose. Above the Willamette Valley’s notorious fog but below the snow line, the
city boasts some of the best weather in Oregon.
It is said that one sees the sun nearly everyday in Oakridge.
Oakridge has much to offer
in Geotourism, defined as the geographic character of a place - its
environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and people. The forest is a
bounty of wild flowers, berries and mushrooms. Trails wind through layers
of moss to discover waterfalls. Birders will tell you that this area is
unparalleled for sighting raptors of many varieties and other wildlife
sightings such as elk and deer, are common. In a place steeped with the
history of living in the forests that surround Oakridge, the community
celebrates it in their festivals, art and everyday living.
Some of the finest fishing in Oregon can be found in
the forests surrounding us. Brown and rainbow trout,
croppies, salmon, and catfish can be caught, depending on the season. The Willamette River and Salmon Creek provide relaxing
locations for river fly fishing. If you prefer dipping your line in a
lake, you'll find many in the area that will entice you. At the crest of the
Cascades, Odell Lake is a fisherman's paradise with mackinaw reaching over 30
pounds and kokanee salmon over 20 inches.
Surrounded by the lush Willamette National Forest, hunting is plentiful
whether it be with a rifle or a bow. The area sports not only a large elk
and deer population, but also bear and cougar.
There are many ways to explore
the beauty in this area. One way is from the comfort of your
vehicle, but be prepared for some rough patches! There are hundreds
of miles of paved and graveled forest roads to explore winding creeks and awe
inspiring vistas. For those looking for a little more speed, Emerald
Empire Sports Car Club sponsors the Larison Rock Hill Climb on
a closed asphalt Forest Service road in July. The course is 1.9 miles,
rising 1000 feet, around 23 curves. No two turns are quite the same on this
challenging course. For those looking more time to enjoy the scenery,
please see the Scenic Byways section.
Looking to get a little dirty?
The nearby Huckleberry flats OHV area provides over 30 miles of loop
trails in 11 square miles of the densely forested Willamette National Forest. This free use
trail area (with an Oregon OHV permit) is well signed and open to both
motorcycles and ATVs. This system is closed to Class II motorized
vehicles, bicycles, horses and hiker use.
Aufderheide National Scenic Byway was named after and dedicated to the memory
of Robert Aufderheide, a Willamette National Forest Supervisor. It winds
through the lush undergrowth of the majestic Willamette
National Forest and meanders along the
cold, clear water of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River
and the South Fork of the McKenzie
River. As well as scenic
vistas, the drive also provides opportunities to explore and understand the
environment. The Aufderheide is part of the 220 mile West Cascades Scenic Byway
that runs north to south, skirting the northern half of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range from
Oakridge to Estacada. To reach Aufderheide Drive from the
Eugene-Springfield area exit Highway 58 at the Westfir turnoff, turn left after
the green bridge, continue 2 miles to the covered bridge, then continue
straight ahead on Forest Service Road 19 (Aufderheide Scenic Drive).
Oakridge lies at the confluence
of five rivers that cut through the surrounding mountains, making an
excellent spot for those who want to get their feet wet. Whether you travel by
kayak, raft or simple inner-tube, there is always a place to cool off in the
warm summer months. Hills Creek Reservoir and Crescent Lake
provide excellent access to water-skiing.
Waldo Lake lies
near the crest of the Cascades at an elevation of 5,414 feet. About
33 miles east of Oakridge, Waldo
Lake is one of the purest lakes in the
world and the second largest lake in Oregon.
In its crystal-clear and exceptionally blue waters visitors can see to the
depths of over 100 feet (30 m) on a calm day. The non-motorized waters have
become a favorite for sailboats, canoes and kayaks. Downstream the North Fork
of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River.
In the summer months, the river's clean clear waters invites people to visit
its many swimming holes.
Whether you prefer downhill
skiing, snowboarding, sledding, cross-country skiing, or snow-shoeing, Oakridge
is the perfect place for winter sport enthusiasts. Willamette Pass Resort ski
area, just 27 miles east of Oakridge on Highway 58, provides a full
service resort with a small town feel. Ride up five ski lifts,
including a high-speed, six passenger lift that takes you to the 6,683 foot summit in five minutes to unleash 555 acres of skiable
terrain. In addition to downhill runs, Willamette Pass
offers over 12 miles of cross-country trails groomed for both track and
skate skiing through rolling terrain.
Marked cross-country ski trails
and snowmobile trails are located on National Forest land. The Forest Service
and National Ski Patrol volunteers operate a cabin at Gold Lake Sno-Park where
visitors can warm themselves and gather ski information. There are several
shelters in the area managed by the Forest Service that may be used for picnics
or overnight camping. Diamond
Peak Wilderness offers
secluded back-country adventures for the mountaineer and experienced
skier. This 8,744 foot peak in the Oregon Cascades offers some
the best in off-resort downhill skiing.