Oregon state history hikes: 14 trails to celebrate Oregon’s past

You can trace Oregon’s history on its trails. Ever since Oregon gained statehood in 1859 – and for many years before that – pioneers have cut trails through some of the most rugged and beautiful segments of the state. Some trails were made for travelers to settle there, while others were developed for locals to enjoy public lands.

Hiking along the historic trails today can transport you back to various eras in Oregon’s history. They can trace the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail, take you high above landmark cities, and uncover some of the darker moments in the forcible removal of Native Americans from the land.

All of those stories are important to remember, as we forge ahead through the present, careful not to make the same mistakes twice, and eager to create our own mark on history.

The farthest point reached by Lewis and Clark on their Northwest expedition was not the mouth of the Columbia River, but Tillamook Head. Clark hiked the headland with a small group in 1806, in search of whale blubber. At a viewpoint, he found himself in awe, writing: “I behold the grandest and most pleasing prospect which my eyes ever surveyed.”

Once Lewis and Clark established Fort Clatsop at the end of 1805 near present-day Astoria, their Corps of Discovery had to bushwhack through forests, bogs and beaches to reach the Pacific Ocean. Much of that route can be traced today on the Fort to Sea Trail, which runs from the Fort Clatsop Visitor Center to Sunset Beach.

Learn more about these and other historic Oregon trails…


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