Explore the Forest

Use our recreation map to find activities to enjoy your time in the Willamette National Forest.


Detroit Ranger District (US Highway 22)

A view of Mt Jefferson covered in snowDetroit Ranger District is located in the northern part of the Willamette National Forest, bordering Mt. Hood National Forest and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. This area is accessible from the west on Highway 22 from Salem, from the east on Highway 22 via Highway 20/126 from the Santiam Pass area, or from the north on Forest Road 46 from the Mt. Hood National Forest.


Here you will find popular campgrounds in the Detroit Lake Area, as well as Breitenbush Campground and Shady Cove Campground that serve as the base for adventures such as hiking, horseback riding, OHV riding, swimming, and more.

HikingA view from Three Pools Day Use Area with the North Fork of the Santiam River rushing over the rocks

Incredible vistas await while backpacking in the Mt. Jefferson - Jefferson Park Trail Area and the Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area. Many day hiking opportunities can be found throughout the district such as the Detroit Reservoir Trail Area and Coffin Mountain Trail Area.

Other Recreation

Many areas offer great boating and swimming such as the Detroit Lake Area, Elk Lake Campground, and Three Pools Day Use Area.

Sweet Home Ranger District (US Highway 20)

A group of people hike along Browder Ridge with mountains in the distanceSweet Home Ranger District is in the middle part of the Willamette National Forest. This area is accessible from the west via Highway 20 from Albany, OR, or from the east on Highway 20 from Sisters. Get a taste of the sweet (home) life! You’ll find mountain biking adventures, incredible wildflower hikes, swimming areas to keep cool on a hot summer day, and much more.

Guided Hikes

Sweet Home Nature and Heritage Tours offer incredible opportunities to learn about the plants, animals, geology and cultural history of the Sweet Home area, located on the edges of the Willamette Valley and within the spectacular Cascade Mountains. 


Keep cool on a warm summer day at one of the popular campground and swimming areas such as Fernview Campground, House Rock Campground, or Trout Creek Campground.


If you like wildflowers take a hike in the Old Cascade Crest Trail Area or the Tombstone Pass Trail Area (especially Iron Mountain Trail). The Hackleman Old Growth Trail is a short 1/4 mile hike, but offers spectacular sightings of old growth trees and views of the South Santiam River.Wildflowers cover a rock face on the Iron Mountain Trail

Other Recreation

Grab your bike and get your legs and heart pumping on the Santiam Wagon Road Trail Area and Iron Mountain.

Uncover the past at Longbow Organization Camp.

Explore the McKenzie River Ranger District (Highway 126)

Cars drive over the McKenzie Pass through lava fieldsMcKenzie River Ranger District is in the middle part of the Willamette National Forest, bordering the Deschutes National Forest. Accessible from the west via Highway 126 from Eugene, OR, or from the east on Highway 20 from Sisters. The McKenzie River Ranger District is a collection of stunning lakes and waterfalls, epic mountain biking and rafting, and opportunities to explore history.


Get your water fix at the Upper McKenzie Trail Area hiking the Water Falls Loop Trail #3503 where you can see the popular Sahalie and Koosah Falls. View the headwaters of the McKenzie River at the stunning Clear Lake Loop Trail #4341.Sahalie Falls tumbles over rocks surrounded by a lush green forest

Other Recreation

The O’Leary trail complex and Upper McKenzie Trail Area offer some of the best mountain biking on the forest. Road cyclists will love the challenge of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway and the views are spectacular from your vehicle as well!

Don’t miss the Dee Wright Observatory, along the scenic McKenzie Highway (Hwy 242), for panoramic views of Cascade peaks such as Mount Washington and the Three Sisters. For Highway 242 opening and closing dates, check the Oregon Department of Transportation website.

History buffs will enjoy a stop at Fish Lake Interpretive Day Use sites, or try spending a night at an historic guard station (reservations required) such as Box Canyon Guard Station or Indian Ridge Lookout.

Take a guided trip down the river with one of our McKenzie River Permitted Outfitters and Guides.

Middle Fork Ranger District (US Highway 58)

A mountain bike rests on a trail through a meadow with mountains in the backgroundMiddle Fork Ranger District is the southern part of the forest, bordering the Deschutes and Umpqua National Forests. Accessible from the west on Highway 58 from Eugene, OR, or from the south via Highway 58. Spend some time exploring Waldo Lake, one of the gems of the forest, but don’t forget to get out on some of the great mountain biking, hiking, and horse trails in this area.


Backpacking and day hikes can be found all over the district including, Fall Creek Trail Area, and Hardesty Trail Area. For spectacular mountain scenery, try a hike in the Willamette Pass Trail Area

Other Recreation

The renowned Middle Fork Willamette Trail #3609, Dead Moutain Trail and Alpine Trail are just a few of the more popular mountain biking areas.Waldo Lake on a clear day with the lake reflecting the surrounding landscape

One of the gems of the Willamette National Forest is the Waldo Lake Area provides many recreational opportunities including horse camping, non-motorized boating, swimming, hiking and biking.

For those who prefer to travel by horse, the spectacular Diamond Peak Trail Area offers multiple trails For those that enjoy travel of the motorized type, OHV enthusiasts can enjoy the Huckleberry Flats OHV Trail.