by Amy Whitley
The North Umpqua Valley lies approximately two hours from Eugene, Bend or Medford and about 70 miles from the North Entrance of Crater Lake National Park. It’s an outdoors wonderland rich in rivers, hiking trails, evergreens and waterfalls. Here’s what awaits!
- 1. Drive State Highway 138: Affectionately known as the Highway of Waterfalls, this stretch of highway offers views of over a dozen waterfalls en route, including Toketee Falls, South Umpqua Falls and more. You’ll have opportunity to stretch your legs with everything from short, family-friendly trails to moderate hikes to some serious climbs.
- 2. Raft the North Umpqua River. This Wild & Scenic designated wilderness offers breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife. There are more rapids per mile than other local rivers including numerous class II and III rapids.
- 3. Participate in a seasonal outdoor event. The N.U.T.cracker Mountain Bike Race, held in 2019 on August 31, is a challenging 60-mile course on the North Umpqua Trail (The NUT). The post-race Umpqua Bash will be held at Stewart Park in Roseburg and will include the opening tour concert for the band Roseburg, as well as a beer and wine garden, food trucks, and outdoor fun. If you’re a cyclist, the Vineyard Tour cycle on Sunday, Sept. 1 was rated one of the top Oregon bike rides in 2018.
- 4. Backpack and hike. The Mt. Thielsen Trail will challenge hikers with a difficult climb to a phenomenal view, beginning at the Mount Thielsen Trailhead just 1.5 miles north of the Highway 138 and 230 junction near Diamond Lake and connecting with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail before proceeding up the summit.
- Alternatively, the North Umpqua Trail has 79-miles of the most scenic trails in Oregon. The Dread and Terror segment lives up to its name, so if you want an extreme challenge, take this 13-mile trail from the Hot Springs Trailhead #1444. Pass by gorgeous water features such as the Umpqua Hot Springs, Surprise and Columnar Falls, and Lemolo Falls. Or, the Tioga segment of the North Umpqua Trail is a 15.7-mile trek and a favorite for scenery.
- 5. Fish the North Umpqua. Bag chinook and coho salmon in the spring and fall run, plus summer and winter-run steelhead. June fishing in the scenic Umpqua region is some of the best fishing in the world. In addition to river fishing, the rainbow trout are thick at Diamond Lake.
- 6. Take a covered bridge tour. Meander along Pass Creek Bridge, Neal Lane Bridge, Cavitt Creek Bridge and more.
Where to stay:
If you're planning on focusing your trip on the Crater Lake area or Waterfall Highway, Diamond Lake Resort offers a comfortably rustic experience, or The Steamboat Inn lies right along Highway 138, with riverfront cabins and a comfortably elegant dining room. If you're camping, Toketee Campground is perfectly situated for those ready to enjoy the Umpqua Hot Springs, where the Wild and Scenic North Umpqua meets Toketee Lake. The South Umpqua Falls Campground allows easy access to the excellent swimming nearby.