Get Out Guide: Corvallis Hikes

Peavy Arboretum

Hug Trees, Not Humans

The COVID-19 shelter-in-place vibe may be cooling your heels, but you can sidestep that stir craziness and still stay socially distant in Corvallis’ wide open spaces. The benefits of getting out in nature are manifold; exercise can stimulate blood flow and circulate fresh nutrients that aid in healing. As a bonus, there’s been a spring-like turn of weather in the Valley, and this town has plenty of sweet little hikes for every level of hiker or runner.

Bald Hill: This trail is very popular for Corvallis locals to explore because it is close and offers a beautiful view of the city. Located on the outskirts of town, Bald Hill provides an easy and casual hiking experience that should only take you a couple of hours to complete. It’s also a great area for mountain bikes, as the paths are wide enough to navigate, regardless of your level of experience.

Fitton Green: This is another moderate-level hiking spot with some breathtaking views. The trail extends a total of 4.3 miles, involves quite a few elevation changes, and takes about two hours. There are some gravel and dirt pathways which get very muddy during non-summer months, but the views of Marys Peak and the valley are worth trudging through knee-high muck, even on a rainy Corvallis day.

Chip Ross Park & Dimple Hill: Same trailhead, two different hikes. Chip Ross is a moderately easy hike offering a sweeping valley view at 270 feet of elevation gain in about 15 or 20 minutes. It’s a loop, with a nice change of scenery going back down. The other option is Dimple Hill, a decent booty-blaster of a hike. The total elevation gain is about 1,450 feet, which is almost two-thirds the gain of the trail for Marys Peak, but in a significantly shorter amount of time. This trail is a true loop hike and only lasts about three hours. Like many other trails in the area, the views from the top are well worth the time and energy. These hikes are located shortly before reaching Crescent Valley High School, roughly 10 minutes by car from the center of town; take Highland, then turn left on Lester Avenue which dead-ends at the trailhead.

McCulloch Peak: This one is a nearby step up from Dimple Hill. It’s a bigger climb, and the routes are steeper. The top is accessible by several sets of gravel roads, all of which are unrelenting in their directness. Extendo Trail could be incorporated into the climb, in order to provide a break from the grinding roads – but the grind really is part of the fun for this one. Trailheads for different approaches to this climb include: the end of Sulphur Springs Road, the Oak Creek Trailhead, or even a start from the Saddle. Our favorite: A start from Oak Creek, hike up to the take 680 access road for my start upwards, then going back down. Before heading back to the trailhead, go the opposite way up Road 600 to Dimple Hill – it’s a great workout.

Mulkey Creek: A little past Bald Hill, Mulkey Creek is a shorter hike which provides great exercise. The trail offers a more difficult hike than a lot of trails in town. This path is very mountain bike friendly, as well. The views at the top aren’t great, making this path better suited for a spontaneous hike that you don’t have to get to the peak to appreciate — there’s plenty of natural beauty on the way.

Peavy Arboretum: Maintained by Oregon State University, this area is great for forest enthusiasts as the trail leads you through old growth trees and other wooded areas. The path also goes by Cronemiller Lake, offering water views that might be lacking elsewhere in Corvallis. There are trails from easy to difficult all throughout this area. Our favorite: an easy walk up to Cronemiller Lake, then from right above the lake, start up the Section 36 Loop – stay right on this trail to go all the way up to the top of the hill beyond the Powder House, and you get a panoramic view of Soap Creek Valley. Taking the longer way down, the whole hike can be done in an hour and a half.

Forest Peak: A less-familiar piece of high ground in Oregon State University’s Dunn Forest, Forest Peak offers several steady gravel road routes which climb through mostly monocultural fir stands to this high point that hangs over Soap Creek Valley. The Berry Creek entrance (Rd. 100) is the most picturesque, and is also very lightly used.

Marys Peak: This one is about 15 miles outside of Philomath. But, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous and don’t mind the resonating sound of gunshots, Marys Peak might be just the spot for you. At 4,097 feet, it is the highest point on the Oregon Coast Range. This is one of Corvallis’ most popular hikes and for good reason. From the top you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the peaks of the Cascades to the east. There are a range of different levels of hikes of various lengths from just a short hour-and-a-half to about a half-day trek. The elevation gain gets a little raw on some of these trails, so choose your steps wisely.

For more information on these hikes, visit cf.forestry.oregonstate.edu and co.benton.or.us/parks/page/county-trail-maps

 
By Mitch Haines