4 Mini-Adventures In and Around Corvallis, Oregon
Residents of Corvallis know what a hidden gem our small city is. With nearby access to mountains, rivers, and seemingly unlimited trails connecting the two, you’ll never be hard-pressed to find a way to get outside for an adventure. But the wealth of available options can be overwhelming. Whether you’re new to Corvallis or just new to adventuring outside, we’ll look at a few nearby mini-adventures you can tackle in and around Corvallis so you can discover a new favorite location or a new favorite activity. The first two adventures below are geared more toward newcomers, while the second two are aimed at more seasoned adventurers looking for a new challenge.
Scanning a list of available hikes in and around Corvallis can leave you dizzy with options, and with such a wide range of choices, it’s nearly impossible to objectively say which trail is best. That said, one destination that is frequently visited by local hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike is Dimple Hill. With a variety of route options--from gravel forest roads to manicured single-track--you won’t be disappointed concluding your ascent at Dimple Hill. Located just northwest of the city, your efforts will be rewarded with a stunning view of the western edge of Corvallis and the southern Willamette Valley. And, depending on the time of year you visit, you may be rewarded along the way with fresh blackberries to snack on.
If you prefer a more sure-footed route, you can start at the Oak Creek parking lot and follow Patterson Road 600--a wide gravel forest road--until it meets RD650 where the path curves off to the right, taking you directly to Dimple Hill. If you prefer single-track, you can start at Chip Ross Park, following the main loop west until you reach the connector to Dan’s Trail, which will take you straight to Dimple Hill. Both routes are a little over 7 miles roundtrip with about a thousand feet of elevation gain, so bring plenty of water and some snacks!
If hiking feels too pedestrian, hitting a slice of single-track on two wheels might be more your speed. If you prefer a ride closer to the city that’s tame enough to try even your first time mountain biking, check out the Intensive Management/Calloway Creek Loop at Peavy Arboretum. Just 10 minutes north of Corvallis off 99W, this short loop features gentle ascents and descents, with only a few hundred total feet of elevation gain. The only downside here is seasonal access since this particular trail is only available to cyclists mid-April through the end of October.
While there are tons of options for all skill levels in the McDonald-Dunn Forest, true novices will benefit from a trip to Silver Falls. At about an hour away, your time spent in the car will pay dividends. There, you’ll find Newt Loop--a perfect beginner trail with several skills practice areas to improve your cornering, handling over obstacles, and even an introduction to short drops. It’s the perfect place to try the sport out and even learn a few things. Access the Newt Loop trailhead by following Highway 214 (Silver Falls Highway) from Salem until you reach Lookout Mountain Road. Turn in here to find an ample parking lot that still fills up on busy weekends.
Newt Loop too easy? Give Catamount Trail (accessed from the same trailhead) a try! This four-mile, primarily downhill route will have you splashing through shallow streams and cornering through mellow, but occasionally tight sections of singletrack.
Don’t have a bike? No problem! With both hardtails and full-suspension bikes from Specialized and Trek in our rental fleet, we’ve got just the thing to get you started, including the rack you’ll need to transport the bike to whatever destination you chose!
If you’ve got the bike, accessories, and camping gear, the newly-completed Corvallis to the Sea (C2C) trail is the perfect overnight mini-adventure for bikepackers looking to put their rig to use. Starting straight from Corvallis, the trail heads west through Philomath and then plunges into the forest along Old Peak Road. From there, you’ll follow a mix of asphalt, gravel, and brief sections of single-track on your way to the mid-point of the ride: Big Elk Campground. Having tackled about 30 miles and over 2,000 vertical feet, Big Elk offers the perfect place to unload your bike, pitch your tent, and try your hand at some campsite gourmet cooking.Day two covers a less-intense 25 miles, rewarding your efforts with a cool saltwater soak at Ona Beach for your weary feet. From there, if you’re feeling eager (and have the provisions), you can follow your tracks home for the return trip. Or, if you’re like most mortals looking forward to a night’s rest in their bed, you can hop on the inexpensive Coast to Valley shuttle for the return trek. Be sure to visit https://c2ctrail.org/bicycle-routes/ while planning your trip to check for seasonal closures, permit requirements, and routing options. If you still have questions, pop into the Peak Sports Bike Shop and chat directly with our Sales Guides or Team Leads that’ve made the trip themselves!
When the summer heats up in the valley, the Willamette River offers the perfect destination to cool off. While it’s possible to take a short trip downriver from Willamette Park to Michael’s Landing, an overnight trip from Michael’s Landing to Hyak Park offers more time on the river, with an awesome camping spot between the two.
To start, park one vehicle at Hyak Park (or plan ahead for someone to pick you up). Next, head to Michael’s Landing behind The Old Spaghetti Factory on NW 2nd St. Pack your camping gear into a couple of waterproof stuff sacks, load up your kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or canoe with your goods, and set sail! Let the river’s currents carry you for a couple of hours (about four miles) to Half Moon Bend where you’ll hop out of the water and set up camp for the evening. Half Moon Bend features a long stretch of gravel to pitch your tent and prep for some serious star gazing. Though you’ll be only a couple miles directly east of 99W and Walnut Blvd., you’ll feel like you’ve got your own stretch of private beach far from civilization.
Only feet from the water, you’ll fall asleep to the splash of fish and the murmuring flow of the river. When you wake up, you may even spot river otters playing on the shoreline across the river. After breakfast, pack your bags once more onto your watercraft and set out to cover the next four miles before you reach Hyak Park. With minimal set-up and only a half-day total on the river, this mini-adventure is the perfect opportunity to catch some rays, experience the refreshing chill of the Willamette, and enjoy the valley’s gorgeous summer climate with friends.If you don’t have a suitable watercraft at your disposal, don’t fret. Our rental fleet features Perception, Wilderness Systems, and Current Designs kayaks; Old Town and Wenonah canoes; and Boardworks and Tahe stand-up paddleboards. Each rental includes a free life jacket and paddle. If you have a kayak, SUP, or canoe of your own, we also offer PFDs and paddles for rent separately.
Learn More at Peak Sports
If you have any further questions about any of the mini-adventures described above or want to expand your outdoor gear to help make these adventures more fulfilling, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 541-754-6444, visit our website at www.PeakSportsNW.com, or stop by our Outdoor or Bike shops at the intersection of NW 2nd St. and NW Jackson Ave. in downtown Corvallis.