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Oregon State Parks

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USA Parks
Willamette Valley Region
McDonald State Forest
McDonald State Forest Leaves on the trail © Chris Ten Eyck
Fall in McDonald Forest.
Western Meadow Lark ©
Western Meadow Lark
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The McDonald State Forest is a sprawling natural reserve that showcases the state's diverse and majestic wilderness. With its lush greenery, towering trees, and peaceful ambience, this forest offers a serene haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The forest is home to an array of wildlife, including deer, elk, and various bird species, making it a perfect spot for wildlife observation and photography. The numerous hiking and biking trails meandering through the forest allow visitors to explore its hidden treasures, such as cascading waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, and picturesque picnic spots. Whether it's a leisurely walk in nature or a thrilling adventure, the McDonald State Forest presents an immersive experience that celebrates Oregon's natural beauty.
History of the Area
Early History:
Before European settlers arrived, the land that now comprises McDonald State Forest was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Kalapuya and Molala tribes. These tribes used the forest for hunting, gathering, and other cultural practices.

Timber Industry Era:
The forest's history became intertwined with the timber industry in the late 19th century when logging companies started harvesting the valuable timber in the area. The clear-cutting of forests became a common practice, negatively impacting the ecosystem's biodiversity and threatening native plants and wildlife.

State Acquisition:
In response to the environmental concerns, the State of Oregon began to acquire forested lands in the mid-20th century to manage them sustainably. In 1949, the State Board of Forestry purchased the initial 3,193 acres of the McDonald State Forest. Additional land purchases in subsequent years expanded the forest to its current size of approximately 7,500 acres.

Forest Management:
Today, McDonald State Forest is managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). The primary goal of the ODF is to maintain the forest's health and productivity while providing various public benefits such as timber production, recreation, and environmental conservation.

Recreation and Conservation:
McDonald State Forest offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, wildlife viewing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Visitors can explore the forest's several trails, which wind through lush greenery, diverse flora, and occasional clear-cuts as part of the forest's sustainable management practices.
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McDonald State Forest in Oregon offers a variety of picnicking options for visitors. There are several picnic areas scattered throughout the forest, many with tables and benches available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Some sites also have grills where you can cook your own food while enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The forest is filled with trails perfect for hiking before or after your meal, making it an ideal location to enjoy outdoor activities along with your picnic lunch or dinner.

1. Alpha Trail: This is a 2-mile loop trail that offers moderate difficulty and scenic views of the forest's diverse ecosystem, including Douglas fir trees, western hemlock, red alder and bigleaf maple.

2. Baker Creek Loop: A moderately challenging 3-mile hike with an elevation gain of about 400 feet. The path winds through dense forests along Baker Creek before looping back to its starting point.

3. Chip Ross Park Loop: An easy-to-moderate level hiking route spanning around two miles in length featuring beautiful wildflowers during springtime as well as panoramic vistas over Corvallis cityscape from certain vantage points on clear days.

4. Dave Clark Pathway: Named after local conservationist Dave Clark; this pathway runs parallel to Willamette River offering stunning riverfront scenes throughout the year across its approximately three mile stretch which can be covered at leisurely pace due to flat terrain.

5. Dimple Hill Road Trailhead - Dimple Hill Summit Route: It's one of McDonald Forest's most strenuous hikes covering nearly five miles round trip with significant altitude gains leading up towards summit where hikers are rewarded by breathtaking valley views below.

6. Fort Hoskins Historic County Park Trails: These trails offer historical insights into Oregon history while providing gentle walks suitable for all ages within lush green surroundings dotted by picnic spots making it ideal family outing destination.

7. Horse Trail #36: This horse-friendly trail stretches out roughly four-and-a-half miles long traversing several creek crossings amid towering conifers presenting unique perspective onto park's natural beauty.

8. Lewisburg Saddle via Peavy Arboretum Hiking Routes: These routes start off from Lewisburg saddle parking lot extending various distances depending upon chosen paths ranging between mild strolls perfect for beginners or more demanding treks suited experienced adventurers alike.

9. McDonald Dunn Research Forest North Ridge-Powder House-Sulphur Springs Loops: These interconnected loops offer hikers the opportunity to customize their journey according to fitness levels and time constraints, with each loop offering unique views of forest landscapes.

10. Oak Creek Road Trailhead - Powder House Loop Route: This 4-mile round trip hike takes you through a variety of terrain including old growth forests, open meadows filled with wildflowers in springtime as well as steep inclines leading towards panoramic viewpoints overlooking surrounding valleys.

11. Peavy Arboretum Trails: These trails are perfect for family outings or educational trips due to its easy accessibility coupled by interpretive signs explaining local flora fauna found within arboretum premises .

12. Sulphur Springs Summit Hike: A challenging yet rewarding trek covering around six miles roundtrip gaining significant elevation along way culminating at summit which offers sweeping vistas over Willamette Valley below.

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Area Campgrounds
Country Squire MH & RV Resort
4000 Blue Ox Drive Southeast
Albany, OR
Albany / Corvallis KOA Journey
33775 Oakville Road North
Albany, OR

1. Start your journey from the city of Corvallis, which is situated in western Oregon.
2. Take Highway 20 heading east out of Corvallis.
3. Continue on Highway 20 for approximately 15 miles until you reach the small town of Philomath.
4. In Philomath, turn left onto Main Street (also known as Kings Valley Highway).
5. Follow Main Street/Kings Valley Highway for about 6 miles until you come to a junction with Marys River Road NW.
6. Turn right onto Marys River Road NW and continue driving northward for around 7 miles.

At this point, there are two different entrances to access the McDonald State Forest:

Option A - North Entrance:
7a: After driving along Marys River Road NW for about seven miles, look out for signs indicating "McDonald-Dunn Research Forest.".
8a: Turn left into Oak Creek Drive just after passing mile marker eight on Marys River Road NW.
9a: Proceed down Oak Creek Drive until you see an entrance sign marking the beginning of McDonald State Forest's trail system.

Option B - South Entrance:
7b: Instead of turning left at step #8 above (Oak Creek Drive), continue straight ahead on Marys River Road Northwest towards Blodgett.
10b:After another half-mile or so past that intersection, take a slight right when road splits off toward Dunn forest.
11b:Continue up hill till top where it levels off . You will pass through gate then shortly thereafter arrive at parking area.

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Oregon State Parks