Oregon's Best State Parks for Day Trippers

Five lightning-fast outdoor getaways for afternoon escapes, from disc golf to waterfall trail hikes.

By Ketzel Levine August 1, 2013

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Milo McIver State Park 

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Drive time: 50 minutes

Four species of bats, a 27-hole disc-golf course, and a big river running through make for a state park packed with summertime fun. Clackamas River kayakers paddle past foam noodlers, while flying mammal lovers cruise for action along the bat trail. Bring a picnic.

VITALS $5 day-use fee; pets allowed; flush toilets

Ecola State Park 

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Drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

True, the Chinook word for “whale” does sound like a disease agent. All the easier to remember the name of this enchanted emerald park. Hike minutes or miles and enjoy low tide for starfish, sunset for colors, and anytime for mind-boggling Pacific
Coast views.

VITALS $5 day-use fee; pets allowed; flush toilets

Silver Falls State Park 

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Drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Behold the wonder of falling water along the Trail of 10 Falls, a series of short, meandering hikes that makes for a saturated summer day. Bring the kids, leave the dogs, and take the plunge on a weekday—crowds pour in on weekends—so you can linger in amphitheaters curtained by liquid walls.  

VITALS $5 day-use fee; pets in limited areas only; flush toilets

Champoeg State Heritage Area

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Drive time: 50 minutes

Pack as many generations as you can fit in the car. Wander through pioneer history, river trails for bikes and hikes, ample picnic spots, and the state’s oldest general store.

VITALS  $5 day-use fee; pets allowed; flush toilets

Saddle Mountain State Natural Area 

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Drive time: 1 hour

The hike up Saddle Mountain rises through steep meadows of flowers. Scramble up and savor the grandeur of limitless sea and mountain views. 

VITALS Free; pets allowed; flush toilets

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