- Collegian staff
Nature spots to visit near Salem
Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Oregon is known for many things. Portland’s idiosyncrasies, the robust fungus hunting community, the lack of sales tax and the gas station attendants are a few of the many quirks and items of interest that the state has to offer. With that being said, Oregon is perhaps known best for its abundance of natural marvels. The state teems with mountains, rivers, and lakes that beg to be respectfully explored by both visitors and locals. Salem and the surrounding area is no exception and has so much to offer for outdoor enthusiasts of all walks of life.
This hiking spot remains as somewhat of a hidden gem to those who live in Oregon. The 10.5 mile trail is dog friendly and provides sweeping views of the Detroit Reservoir and the Cascades. The hiking entrance is located just of off Highway 22 over Detroit Lake at the Dome Rock Trail #3381. At the east end of the lake, hikers are rewarded with a view of the 100 foot waterfall (a shorter version of this hike begins at Tumble Trailhead on Road 2223). This spot is popular year round, though extra experience is recommended to those who hike in the winter.
Silver Falls is a state park that spans more than 9,000 acres and includes over 24 miles of hiking trails, 14 miles or horse trails, and a four mile long bike path. The hike to the falls and swimming spot is about 8.5 miles long and is considered to be of moderate difficulty. This spot is about 20 miles east of Salem and is incredibly popular among students at Willamette.
Three Pools is one of the most popular swimming holes in the Pacific Northwest. Its beauty attracts more than 15,000 people a year, so wear a mask! If it becomes too crowded to enjoy the scenery, use caution and choose one of the other many natural spots Oregon has to offer! The Three Pools hike is 12 miles long, but the crystal clear swimming holes and cliff jumping spots are worth every step. Camping along this hike is available, but limited to 12 campsites a night. Three Pools is approximately an hour away from Willamette and is highly recommended by Willamette students and staff.
The Oregon Coast is another spot frequented by Willamette students during the last few weeks of summer. Specifically, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area in Pacific City is home to the Three Capes Scenic Route, which provides expansive views over the Pacific Ocean. Boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and cafes line the oceanfront. Surfing is incredibly common around Cape Kiwanda for beginners as well as seasoned surfers. Though the water averages about 55 degrees, this spot has so much to offer for anyone who visits.
This mountain is located within the Willamette National Forest and a mere thirty minutes away from campus. The 6.6 mile loop trail rewards hikers with a beautiful 360 degree view of North, Middle, and South Sister along with Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Jefferson. Due to its central location to Bend, Portland, Salem and Eugene, it has become a tradition for many Oregonians during the spring. Between May and early June, purple larkspur, pink penstemon, Washington lily and 300 other species of flowering plants bloom quickly, covering the mountainside with bright splashes of color.
Tamolitch Falls, commonly known as Blue Pools, is about an hour and 45 minutes from campus just outside of Bend. The 3.7 mile trail leads hikers to a waterfall as well as a water hole. The pool’s crystal clear turquoise waters are a product of a lava flow that occurred over 1,600 years ago. The river seeps through the porous lava which allows for the highly pigmented water. Though it may seem inviting, the water temperature averages about 37 degrees Fahrenheit, so swimming and cliff jumping are not advised. Regardless, the water and surrounding evergreens are worth the drive and short hike.