All-Season Adventure in the Willamette Valley
Fall and Winter in the Willamette Valley mean short days full of rain, chilly temps, and thick morning fog. If you’re new to the area or just visiting, the seasonal weather may push you to hunker down on the couch instead of adventuring outside. But with a little prep and the right gear, you’ll quickly discover how rewarding cool-weather hikes and bike rides can be!
Dress for Success
Visit any of Corvallis’s multitude of trails and walking paths, and you’ll notice a distinct lack of umbrellas. Instead, most folks opt for specific clothing materials and water-resistant layers to keep dry. While our area certainly sees its fair share of rain over the course of the wet season, it tends to come down in a steady drizzle that’s easily held at bay with smart layering.
To stay dry and comfy, stick to wool and synthetic base layers that wick away moisture while holding in warmth. A simple rain jacket with a hood will often be enough to keep the rain at bay without getting too hot. Add in a pair of gloves and ear warmers or beanie, and you’ll find yourself plenty warm.
If you expect your route to take you through tall, wet grass or shallow streams, consider a pair of waterproof hiking shoes. If you’d rather stick with your usual trainers, gaiters pack down easily (and are easy to throw on if things get nasty). They’ll help protect your lower leg and the tops of your shoes from unwelcome rainwater.
Now that you’re protected from the elements, it’s a good idea to check that you’re ready for the terrain. Wet weather often leaves trails muddy and full of slick stone and wood. A pair of trekking poles will help ensure you stay upright on trickier descents, and they’re light and compact enough to tuck away in your backpack if you find the trail is easy to manage without. Another way to stay sure-footed is by using trail-specific footwear. Hiking boots are a common option, but lots of regular hikers turn to trail runners for their lighter weight and the terrific traction and weather protection they provide.
Two Wheels, Two Essentials
One of our area's greatest assets is the trails that stay open year-round for cyclists. Between the tons of singletrack available and an ample selection of asphalt bike paths, bike lanes, and sharrows, there are plenty of reasons to hop on your bike for a quick commute or fitness ride, even when the forecast looks nasty.
Two items that will ensure you make it to your destination safely and comfortably are a set of fenders and a good set of lights. Fenders can be added to just about any bike, though they may look different based on what type of bike you ride. Regardless, they help you avoid the dreaded skunk-stripe of road grime up your back while helping keep dirt and water away from your drivetrain components and feet.
Fall and winter mean early sunsets in the Willamette Valley, making bright bike lights a necessity. By law, you’re required to have a white front light and either a red rear light or reflector after dark. While a cheap set of blinky lights will get the job done, a front light of around 500 lumens will help drivers see you from further away and do a much better job highlighting debris and obstacles down the road. USB-rechargeable lights make it easy to ensure you’ve always got light when you need it instead of digging through your junk drawer for a spare set of batteries.
Maintain Your Gear
Once you’ve found your cold-weather clothing, it’s important to know that regardless of the manufacturer, waterproof layers will eventually lose their ability to shed water. Luckily, it’s easy to maintain your waterproof gear with the help of something like Nikwax Tech Wash. A quick wash will rejuvenate your waterproof gear’s breathability and waterproofing, helping extend its life and useability for years to come.
If you have questions about staying active during the Willamette Valley’s cold and rainy fall and winter weather, be sure to visit the Peak Sports Outdoor Store, Bike Shop, and Annex. Our sales guides are always excited to offer expert advice on staying comfortable and active no matter what the forecast calls for. Visit our contact page for address and e-mail contact info. We look forward to seeing you soon!