5 Pre-Winter Adventures We Scouted For You

Words by Anna Glavash | Photo by Michael Davies

Although winter is coming, it’s definitely not too late to get out and enjoy our amazing corner of Oregon. Here are five hikes, walks and hot springs sure to make the most of your weekends before the end of term. A good friend once said, “Some people dance in the rain. Others just get wet.” Don’t be that person. Get out there!

If you like gentle walks in lush forests:

Alsea Falls

Getting there: 58 minutes

Trail: 2.8 miles out and back

A pretty hike at any time of year, Alsea is a spectacular autumn adventure when the birch and aspen are golden among dark evergreens. The rolling trail follows the Alsea River past Alsea Falls, and if you keep going you’ll come to the taller Green Peak Falls. There’s a picnic area and campground if you feel like pitching a tent and toasting some s’mores.

If you like long soaks in hot tubs:

Terwilliger Hot Springs

Getting there: 1 hour 10 minutes

Trail: ¼ mile

Picture four cascading pools surrounded by boulders and evergreens. Steam rises from their surfaces, each one hotter than the last. Just above Cougar Reservoir and beyond Terwilliger Falls is the parking area and fee station for this clean and clothing-optional natural hot spring. $6 is what you pay to soak for the day. The pools are closed at night and cleaned on Thursday mornings, so don’t visit then. Any other time, including those dreary days when most outdoor activities don’t appeal, is the perfect time to take a dip in some hot water.

If you love taking nature photos:

Clear Lake


Getting there: 1 hour 26 minutes

Trail: 4.5 mile loop

This breathtakingly blue lake is worth the drive up scenic Highway 126. Eugene’s drinking water source is the McKenzie River, which first bubbles out of lava rocks here at the foot of Mt. Washington. The shores are ringed by a mostly flat hiking trail that takes you through forest, as well as across an unearthly lava field. Bring your camera to capture the fiery maples and jewel-like waters. On a clear day, you’ll get views of the Three Sisters too.

If you’re a morning person or short on time:

Spencer Butte

Getting there: 12 minutes

Trail: 2.5 mile loop

Spencer Butte watches over Eugene day and night, and if you like to watch night turn to day, this is the place to do it. Climbing up usually takes about 20 minutes and the views at the top are panoramic. On a misty morning in Eugene, hike up through fog and look out across an ocean of clouds. Or, watch the sunset from this excellent vantage point and be home in time for dinner. Don’t forget a head lamp.

If you hate decisions:

Salt Creek Falls and McCredie Hot Springs

Getting there: 1 hour 10 minutes

Trail: 3.4 mile loop

It’s three for one when you drive out Highway 58 along Salt Creek. You can park right at Salt Creek Falls, Oregon’s second highest single-drop cascade at 268 feet, and just admire it, or take the loop trail to Diamond Creek Falls for a hike. On your way home, pull into McCredie Hot Springs next to Salt Creek and choose from several pools of varying temperatures alongside the river.