Outdoor Learning in Linn County, Oregon


Want to learn more about the outdoors? Linn County offers many opportunities to do so.
From Heritage Hikes, offered by U.S. Forest Service personnel, to campground presentations, outdoors camps and other activities, we’re always learning more about the environment in which we live and we like to share what we know.

Heritage Hikes
The U.S. Forest Service’s Sweet Home Ranger District offers more than 20 Heritage Hikes through its Natural Resource and Heritage Outreach Program, which educates visitors and local residents about the forest. Numerous guided hikes are planned throughout the year from early spring through early December; each hike is based on a theme or specific attraction to meet a variety of interests. Whether you enjoy birding, rock hounding or identifying flora and fauna there is a guided hike designed for you!
Most of the hikes last about half a day, led by a knowledgable, experienced guide such as the district botanist, archaeologist or geologist, depending on the subject matter. One of the goals is to help people understand conservation and are educated about the area, so they feel comfortable picking berries on their own to trying a new hiking trail. Guided cross-country snowshoe trips are offered during the snow season.
Below are some of the activities offered. For specific topics, dates and reservations, click here or call 877-444-6777 and inquire about hikes offered in Sweet Home or call the Sweet Home Ranger District at 541-367-5168.

Check out what happens on a Heritage Hike!

Hikes and outdoor activities offered include:
Over the River and Through the Woods Scenic Byway Tour: A series of easy half-mile hikes in several locations as you weave your way through the Cascade Mountains; learning about cultural history and native flora and fauna.
Cascadia Cave: Visit Cascadia State Park and hike a 2.4-mile loop to one of the most visually impressive archaeological sites in western Oregon. This cave is an American Indian petroglyph site considered to have the largest concentration of rock engravings in the state. Cascadia Cave is on private land and you are trespassing if you visit without permission, so this hike provides a great opportunity to see it the right way and you’ll get to hear from an experienced and knowledgable archaeologist who keeps things lively.
Birding in Your Parks Series: Visit different locales such as Sunnyside and Riverbend County Parks or Cascadia State Park to learn birding techniques and identification of resident and migratory species.
Learn Your Lichens, Mosses, Wildflowers or Mushrooms: Hike specific, you will learn how to identify common species and why these organisms are important as environmental indicators. You will also explore habitat characteristics and conditions that produce the amazing array that return each year; includes identification of edible and non-edible as well as traditional uses.
Outdoor Preparedness: Learn basic skills needed to survive an outdoor emergency including shelter building, signaling and how to start a fire (even in the rain!)
Rock Hounding: Learn about the origin and identification of rocks. A rock hammer, hand lens, and rock identification book are recommended.
Winter Snowshoe Treks: Held in March, experience winter in the high elevations and learn about ecology and wildlife in an area shaped by a series of volcanic eruptions. Ability level specific, exact routes depend on snow conditions.
Margie Knowles’ Glorious Adventure: This is the granddaddy (maybe we should say “grandmother”) of them all – a multi-day expedition based at Clear Lake Resort.
The hikes are popular, so it’s a good idea to register early. Registration information is available here.

Other Outdoor Learning Opportunities

Outdoor learning presentations are offered at various Willamette National Forest and Linn County campgrounds, usually by park rangers. For more information, contact the Linn County Parks or Sweet Home, Detroit or McKenzie Ranger District offices, depending on where you’re planning to stay.