Hiking and Backpacking

Whether you’re looking for an afternoon stroll, a day hike or a multi-day adventure, Albany and the surrounding areas have more trails than you could hike in an entire summer.

Urban Trails

For a quick but scenic hike while you’re in town, wander the trails of Albany’s Talking Water Gardens. This first-of-its kind public-private partnership is an engineered wetlands created to cool wastewater before its returned to the Willamette River.  The 50-acres site, criss-crossed with walking paths, provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Albany.

The Talking Water Gardens trails connect to additional trails at Simpson Park. You’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness as you explore this forested riverside trail.

On the north side of the river, walk or run the Takena Landing Trail. You’ll enjoy peaceful views of the Willamette River on this 3.6 mile loop trail.

Out of Town Hikes

A hidden gem in the foothills of the Cascades is McDowell Creek Falls. Visitors can see spectacular waterfalls on this 3-mile loop. Located just 25 miles southeast of Albany, McDowell Creek offers beautiful vistas of Royal Terrace and Majestic Falls from the bridges and viewing decks of this lush green park.

In eastern Linn County, hike through stunning seasonal displays of wildflowers at Iron Mountain, explore pioneer history on the Santiam Wagon Road, or hike through Douglas fir forests to pristine mountain lakes on the Gordon Lakes Trail. These are just a few of the hikes you can find in the Willamette National Forest, which covers much of the eastern half of Linn County.

Across the Willamette, just 15 miles from downtown Albany, the MacDonald-Dunn Research Forest is a wooded wonderland managed by the Oregon State University’s school of forestry, with multitudes of trails open to the public.

Backpacking

For hikers seeking more adventure, Linn County is the gateway to wilderness areas with multitudes of backpacking options. The epic Pacific Crest Trail runs through the eastern half of Linn County; you can do small portions or plan ahead and hike the entire 2.650 mile route.

Other areas to explore on foot include on a backpacking journey include the Middle Santiam Wilderness, Menagerie Wilderness, Mt. Washington Wilderness and Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. These are all protected areas in the Cascade mountains, closed to motorized traffic and accessible only by trail–perfect for visitors intent on exploring the beauties of Oregon’s back country. Check out the Willamette National Forest website for additional information.