While driving along the coast of Oregon, visitors get an unusual sight of trees marching out of the ocean to populate the hills of the Oregon Coast Range with a green blanket that sways with the breeze. When you see this, you know you are in the Siuslaw National Forest. Hidden under the 630,000 acres of forest are majestic dunes, streams filled with fish, sparkling lakes, and hills reaching over 3,000 feet in elevation. The woods are a product of the abundant rainfall and temperate climate that make up this part of the Pacific Northwest. Set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 as a protected zone, this forest is visited by millions each year who are traveling to and from the coast via interior valleys housing towns like Corvallis, Salem, or Eugene, OR.
Drift Creek Falls Trail is an easy hike up Drift Creek to the waterfall, marking the divide between the coastal plain and the Oregon Coast Range. Along the way, hikers are greeted with moss-covered rocks, fallen snags, and an encroaching sense of nature.
Length: 3.8 miles
The Summit Loop Trail is a well-marked pathway to the summit of Mary’s Peak—the highest point along the Oregon Coast Range. Though the path takes you to and around the summit, it is reasonably flat. During the entire hike, you duck in and out of the Douglas fir canopy to find spectacular views of the valleys below.
Length: 1.1 miles
Intensity: Easy to Intermediate
Heceta Head Trail features a lighthouse, a beach, and a fantastic view of waves crashing against the colossal rocks that edge the sea. Though the trail is short and aided with steps carved into steep grades, the action of the waves and the perpetual fogs make for slick hiking. Along this path, you get a glimpse of what pioneers found when they arrived.
Length: 1.6 miles
During the first half of the Cummins Creek Trail, you elevate at a gradual rate giving you plenty of time to see the effects of the coastal winds on trees and other fauna. The last half of the journey is much more difficult with a grade that elevates you 500 feet over a half-mile run. The early morning fogs slicken rocks in this area, so watch your step.
Length: 6.0 miles
Intensity: Intermediate to Difficult
The difficulty in negotiating Hart’s Cove Trail is mitigated by the wildlife, dense forests, and incredible ocean views you experience along the way. At times, you are hiking under a dense Douglas fir canopy that blocks out the sun. When you abruptly emerge into a sun-filled meadow with overlooks of the Oregon coast, you see sights you will remember for the rest of your life.
Length: 13.9 miles
The Siuslaw National Forest enjoys the benefits of two significant forces. The climate is temperate so that plants are free to grow without the restrictions experienced by flora in arid areas. Along with the favorable environment is the immense amount of precipitation the region experiences. These two forces combine to create a climate friendly to plant life that welcomes interesting, new species you won't see anywhere else.
The wildlife in Siuslaw National Forest is much as it was when the first pioneers ventured into Oregon. Brown bears, black bears, coyotes, skunk, porcupine, white-tailed deer, and a healthy assortment of birds are but a few of those you find here.
Angling is a favorite sport for visitors to the Siuslaw National Forest. Tidal estuaries provide a grocery store for live bait, and shoreline rocks offer hiding spots for large fish where the wily angler catches his limit. Lakes and streams inside this forest are filled with trout.
Geocaching is welcomed in the Siuslaw National Forest in sections not designated as wilderness areas. There are three wilderness areas inside the forest—Drift Creek Wilderness, Cummins Creek Wilderness, and Rock Creek Wilderness. To ensure you are not planting your cache in an unauthorized section of the forest, drop by the Visitor Center to secure a map.
Stargazing is often an issue at the Siuslaw National Forest. The low elevation coupled with fog and clouds obscure the night sky most of the year along the coast. In the higher elevations, though, the night sky lights up like a room full of candles.
Address: 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331
Fee: Entry fee $0
Many roads pass through sections of the Siuslaw National Forest. Using an RV takes advantage of those roads. You can drive into state parks, towns, and up to trailheads throughout the forest. The only place you cannot take an RV is into one of the three wilderness areas inside the forest. For hikers, it is an ideal situation when they use an RV. They can leave for a hike in the morning, knowing they have a comfortable spot to return in the evening.