Commentary, Oakridge/Westfir

Commentary: Oakridge trails and the sweet pleasure of hiking

Ben Olson column mug
Doug Bates/The Herald

By BEN OLSON/For The Herald — As we age, some of our youthful pursuits must go by the wayside.

I played competitive full-court basketball well into my 40s but at some point realized I couldn’t keep up with the kids, and guile and treachery will only get you so far in that game. At this point in my life I walk — some days it becomes a hike, but I do it every day, rain or shine.

Aside from the cardio benefit of a brisk walk, it is my time to think, to plan and to scheme with minimal distractions. I get out there for an hour every day, and some days for two or three hours.

I’m dealing with typical old age maladies- I lack sufficient wind on some of the steeper uphills and my knees complain going back down those same grades.

Living in Oakridge provides an amazing variety of trails and paths to get out and enjoy the fresh air. (I am writing this on a day when the smoke seems to be somewhere else.)

For those looking for something relatively flat and easy, there are the loops on the other side of the river at Greenwaters Park. Both sides of the levee along Salmon Creek between Highway 58 and Fish Hatchery Road are nice for both walking and picking a few blackberries this time of year. The trails farther upstream along Salmon Creek extend all the way up to the Salmon Creek Falls campground with many access points along the 24 Road.

Taking a road trip to Westfir gets you to the start of the North Fork trail. Cross the covered bridge to the parking area and trailhead. This trail has a little bit more up and down along the way.

You can access this trail at several spots by driving up the 19 Road and turning at 1910 or 1912. As soon as you cross the bridges the trail can be found right there.

Sometimes I do these hikes in segments so I can see some different scenery each time out. As you may have noticed, all these walks take place along running water. There is something soothing about hearing water making its way downstream and if I decide to rest for a bit, there are some wonderful vantage points to gaze at the moving water.

If you find that hiking is your thing, pick up a $12 Oakridge trail map. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of hikes within a half hour or 45 minutes of Oakridge. All you need is a good pair of shoes, maybe a hiking stick and the gumption to get out and do it.

Next time I write about hiking, I’ll reveal all the great vantage points and vistas that I have stumbled upon since I started my hiking in this area a few years ago.

Oakridge musician Ben Olson, entertainment editor and columnist for The Herald, can be reached by email at [email protected]

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