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Willamette National Forest

The Willamette National Forest stretches for 110 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Range in western Oregon.

The Willamette is one of the most diverse and productive forests in the National Forest System. It is a dynamic landscape shaped by the forces of nature, the people who work here, and the social and political influences of the communities around it. Perched on the crest of the Cascades, the land and waters have carved a rich environment for abundant wildlife and botanical wonders.

Against a tapestry of forested slopes and clear, rushing waters, the diverse landscape is managed to yield a sustainable supply of timber, energy, special forest products and recreation opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the human community.

Elevations on the Forest range from about 1,500 feet above sea level to 10,495 feet at the snowcapped top of Mt. Jefferson,Oregon's second highest peak.

The Forest receives a large amount of precipitation each year, much of it as snow that blankets the higher peaks and ridges from October through April. The rain and melting snow drain into the headwaters of the McKenzie, Santiam, and Willamette Rivers, which flow from the Forest. There are more than 1,500 miles of rivers and streams on the Forest and more than 375 lakes, including many at elevations above 4,000 feet.

The Forest contains large stands of old-growth Douglas-fir, with diameters ranging from three to eight feet. Old growth stands can be seen at Delta Campground, along Fall Creek Trail, and at other locations throughout the Forest.

At least 15 other conifer species are common on the Forest as well, including cedar, pine, hemlock, and several species of fir. Many parts of the Forest show the past effects of fire, insects, wind, and disease which are natural parts of forested ecosystems on the west side of the Cascades.

About one-fifth of the Forest, 380,805 acres, is Congressionally designated as wilderness. Seven major peaks of the Cascades -- Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Diamond Peak, North, Middle and South Sisters -- are within these wildernesses. Entry permits are required for all wildernesses for both day and overnight trips. Most are self-issuing at the trailhead, but some are limited entry and must be obtained in advance.

Motorcycles, mountain bikes, carts and other motorized and/or mechanized equipment are not permitted in wilderness, nor is gathering of special forest products such as tree seedlings, plant and minerals.

When you visit the wilderness, please leave no trace. Pack out what you packed in.

The forest has two rivers designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic Rivers, the McKenzie River and the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. These rivers are managed for protection of recreational opportunities as well as natural, scenic and historic qualities.

Seven major volcanic peaks exist within the Forest's boundary: Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters (North Sister, Middle Sister and South Sister), and Diamond Peak.

The Cascade Range of mountains offer recreationists virtually endless opportunities for forest-related activities. Developed campgrounds, trails, Scenic Byways, and ski resorts are but a few of the facilities available for use. Outdoor recreation activities not associated with developed facilities are limited only by one's imagination. To learn more, visit the forest's recreation map.

First-timer’s Adventure

Visiting a lookout tower on the Willamette can be a great way to learn forest history and see the mountains and woods in a new way.

Huckleberry Lookout is an easy half mile hike with terrific views of the surrounding mountains. To make reservations, call the Middle Fork Ranger District at 541-782-2283.

Statistics

State(s):

Oregon

Nearest Large Urban Area:

Eugene

Notes & Conditions:

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

Conditions can change rapidly in winter and in wilderness areas. Check the conditions page for fire, road and weather conditions before you head out.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Permits, Passes and Fees:

As noted above, all wilderness visits require a Entry permits, which are usually free and available at the trailhead.

In winter, you can also get a Christmas tree permit.

Some areas of the Northwest require a Northwest Forest Pass. Learn more about this recreation pass here.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.