Oregon’s Long Distance Hikes

Autumn is a great time to get out and hike, and Oregon, in all her varied beauty, offers a number of opportunities for great hiking. Whether you live in downtown Portland, in one of the many Willamette Valley suburbs, or you make your home in Central/Eastern/Southern Oregon, there are undoubtedly many trails to take full advantage of in order to fulfill a hiker’s yearning. But while Oregon affords hiking enthusiasts hundreds of short trails, it’s the most daring of the human species who look for something more. Not ready to take on one of the long-distance hikes in the U.S.? Then do your great state a favor and start with one of Oregon’s. Listed below are the five longest trails in Oregon.

Oregon Desert Trail

Close to 800 miles long and divided into four separate sections, the Oregon Desert Trail is the longest hike in the state. The trail’s four regions are as follows: Central Oregon Volcanoes, West Basin and Range, East Basin and Range, and the Owyhee Canyonlands. It took over three years for the path to come together, and the first person to thru-hike the trail was Sage Clegg of Bend, Oregon. Clegg completed the hike in under six weeks in 2013.

Pacific Crest Trail – Oregon Portion

The Pacific Crest Trail has gotten a lot of notoriety in recent years, especially with the popularity of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild,” newly invigorated by the film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon. Running from the border of Southern California up to the top of Washington state, the Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,654 miles in its entirety, but the Oregon portion is only 430 of those. The shortest section of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Oregon portion is also the easiest. But don’t let this fool you—it offers a truly varied landscape. From the dry climate of Southern Oregon to the lush, dense woods of Mt. Hood National Forest, there is no shortage of beauty on this section of the trail (the Oregon section is known for its many beautiful lakes); nor is there a shortage of effort required.

Oregon Coast Trail

The Oregon Coast Trail runs from the mouth of the Columbia River in Ft. Stevens State Park outside Astoria, Oregon to just south of Brookings, California. The entire trail is 425 miles long (if traversed on foot), and 382 miles if a hiker uses a ferry. The trail is considered an easy to moderate hike, and there are a number of lighthouses and points of interest along the route. If you like walking on sand, you’re in luck, as most of the trail is beach. You can find a map of the trail here.

Oregon Skyline Trail

Running 420 miles, the Oregon Skyline Trail was a precursor to the Pacific Crest Trail. The Skyline Trail was established in 1920, when United States Forest Service Ranger leader Frederick William Cleator led a team from Mt. Hood to Crater Lake, creating a 260-mile route of mountain trails and roads. When plans to forge a trail from Mexico to Canada started in 1926, the Skyline Trail was lengthened to accommodate the idea. By 1968, however, the trail had been moved and designated as the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail, and the original Skyline trail was forgotten. Maps of the original trail can be found here, pieces of which still remain in use today.

OC&E Woodsline State Trail

A 105-mile trail, the OC&E Woodsline State Trail is built on the old railbed of the Oregon, California and Eastern Railroad (hence OC&E). The trail begins in Klamath Falls, and is Oregon’s longest state park. Construction started on the trail in 1917 as a way to connect Central and Eastern Oregon. Finished in 1927, the trail now attracts hikers, bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts looking to take advantage of its paved and compacted sections, which connect eight different communities throughout Klamath and Lake counties.

 


Would you consider doing a long-distance hike in Oregon? What area of Oregon attracts you the most?


 

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Brittany Valli
Brittany Valli
Crafting stories from a young age, Brittany was destined to be a writer (well, she thinks so). When she's not working on various novels, short stories or screenplays, she can be found exploring Oregon's many landscapes with her husband, tasting some of the best wine, beer and food Oregon has to offer, relaxin' in a hammock, walking her dogs, or laughing at jokes only she thinks are funny. You can find more about Brittany here: brittanyrvalli.weebly.com (it's a work in progress)