Know Before You Go

A well-planned outing can make the difference between a life-long memory and a disaster you hope to forget as soon as possible. Beautiful, sunny conditions where you live won't necessarily guarantee you the same when you're planning to hike a trail that's located at an elevation of 5000 feet.

This page is dedicated to helping you think through the items you should consider to make your trip as enjoyable and safe as possible.


Before you leave for an activity on the Forest, please be sure to check whether or not you need a permit or pass. Required permits and passes are listed for each recreation site in the recreation section.


Maps are critical for helping you find your recreation site and to help ensure you don't get lost one you're there. It is especially critical to have a good detailed map before heading out into Wilderness areas or the backcountry.

The Willamette National Forest sells visitor maps for many Forests in Oregon and Washington. Detailed maps of our ranger districts, USGS quadrangle maps, and Wilderness maps are also available.

We offer information on the maps we have available and how to get them in our maps and publications section.

Weed Free Feed Required

As part of a larger effort to reduce invasive species on national forest lands, weed-free feed is required in the 17 national forests and the Crooked River National Grasslands of the Pacific Northwest.

Livestock owners and others are required to use feed that is either commercially processed feed or crop products certified to be free of weed seeds. All hay, cubed hay, straw, mulch, and other such products used or stored on national forest lands must be state certified as weed free.

Wilderness Trips

Special considerations need to be taken before you begin your wilderness excursion. The following links will help you plan your trip:

Current Conditions

Check the Current Conditions page for links to the National Weather Service forecasts, road condition information, wildfire information, as well as Ranger District recreation condition updates and district contact information for local information.

Hiking Tips (The 10 Essentials)

If you are a newcomer to hiking in Oregon, a few words of caution: weather is unpredictable and changes rapidly. Your trip will be more pleasant if you are prepared for rain or snow even on a sunny summer day. Water found along the trail should always be treated if you decide to drink it.

The 10 essentials you should carry include:

  1. Map and compass
  2. Flashlight and batteries.
  3. Matches, candle or firestarter - make sure matches are protected.
  4. Small knife.
  5. First aid kit - carry items that take care of blisters, headaches, etc.
  6. Sunglasses, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
  7. Mirror and whistle.
  8. Raingear and extra clothing.
  9. Water - at least one quart. 
  10. Extra food - high energy snack such as candy, jerky or meat bars.

Remember: you can't count on cell phone coverage in remote areas!

Campground fees, reservations & regulations

Some campgrounds require a reservation, while others are first-come, first served. Check out the Camping & Cabins activity to find out what you need to do.

Winter Activities

If you're planning to have fun in the snow, check Winter Know Before You Go page first