South Breitenbush Gorge Trail In Oregon

Here is everything you need to know about the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Oregon
  • Length: 2.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Willamette National Forest
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail, located in the Willamette National Forest of Oregon, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail follows the path of the Breitenbush River, which has been a vital lifeline for various indigenous communities in the region. Native American tribes, such as the Kalapuya and Molalla, have long relied on the river for sustenance, transportation, and spiritual practices.

During the mid-1800s, European settlers began to explore and settle in the area. The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail played a crucial role in connecting these early pioneers to neighboring communities and resources. It served as a vital transportation route for logging operations, mining activities, and the establishment of homesteads. The trail’s historical significance is evident in the remnants of old logging camps, mining sites, and homesteads that can still be found along its path.

In the early 20th century, the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail became a popular recreational destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers, campers, and nature lovers were drawn to the trail’s scenic beauty, which includes towering old-growth forests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the river gorge. Over time, the trail has been maintained and improved by various organizations and agencies, ensuring its accessibility and preservation for future generations to enjoy and appreciate the historical significance of this remarkable area.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. South Breitenbush Trailhead: This is the starting point of the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail. It is located at the end of Forest Road 46, near Detroit, Oregon.

2. Jefferson Park Trailhead: This trailhead is located at the end of Forest Road 45, near Marion Lake. It provides access to the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail from the north.

3. Pansy Lake Trailhead: Situated at the end of Forest Road 4220, this trailhead offers access to the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail from the east.

4. Duffy Lake Trailhead: Located at the end of Forest Road 4220, this trailhead provides access to the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail from the southeast.

5. Opal Creek Trailhead: Situated at the end of Forest Road 2209, near Jawbone Flats, this trailhead offers access to the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail from the southwest.

6. Battle Ax Creek Trailhead: This trailhead is located at the end of Forest Road 2209, near Battle Ax Creek. It provides access to the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail from the west.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Breitenbush Hot Springs – Shuttle service to and from the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail.
2. Detroit Lake Shuttle – Transportation service offering rides to various trailheads, including South Breitenbush Gorge Trail.
3. Santiam Excursions – Shuttle service providing convenient transportation options for hikers near South Breitenbush Gorge Trail.
4. Cascade Shuttle – Reliable transportation service catering to outdoor enthusiasts visiting South Breitenbush Gorge Trail.
5. Willamette Valley Shuttle – Shuttle service offering transportation to and from South Breitenbush Gorge Trail for hikers and nature lovers.


The amenities available at the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail.

2. Parking: There might be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping sites: The trail may offer camping sites for overnight stays. These sites could include tent pads, fire rings, and picnic tables.

4. Picnic areas: There could be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack.

5. Trailhead facilities: The trailhead may have additional amenities such as information boards, maps, and interpretive signs.

6. Water sources: There might be access to water sources along the trail, such as rivers or streams, where visitors can refill their water bottles.

7. Benches or seating areas: There could be benches or seating areas along the trail for visitors to rest and take in the surroundings.

8. Trash receptacles: There may be trash cans or bins available along the trail to dispose of waste properly.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with local authorities or park management for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center – A rustic retreat offering lodging, hot springs, and organic vegetarian meals.
2. Detroit Lake State Recreation Area – Campground and RV park near the trailhead, with lake access and basic amenities.
3. Idanha-Detroit Market – Convenience store and deli offering food, snacks, and supplies.
4. Santiam Memorial Hospital – Nearby hospital providing emergency medical services.
5. Detroit Ranger Station – Local ranger station offering information and assistance for outdoor activities in the area.

South Breitenbush Gorge Trail Difficulty Notes

The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is known for its moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers with some experience and a reasonable level of fitness. The trail spans approximately 6.5 miles and offers a variety of terrains, including rocky sections, steep ascents, and occasional stream crossings. Hikers can expect to encounter some challenging sections that require careful footing and navigation, particularly during wet or snowy conditions. However, the trail also rewards adventurers with breathtaking views of the surrounding old-growth forests, cascading waterfalls, and the picturesque Breitenbush River, making the effort well worth it.

Features And Attractions

The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is known for its stunning scenery and natural landmarks. Here are some of the notable sights along the trail:

1. South Breitenbush River: The trail follows the beautiful South Breitenbush River, offering scenic views of the crystal-clear water and lush vegetation.

2. Waterfalls: The trail features several picturesque waterfalls, including the stunning 60-foot-tall Roaring Creek Falls and the enchanting 30-foot-tall Upper South Breitenbush Falls.

3. Old-Growth Forest: Hikers will pass through sections of old-growth forest, with towering trees and a diverse range of flora and fauna.

4. Suspension Bridge: The trail crosses a suspension bridge over the South Breitenbush River, providing a thrilling experience and a unique perspective of the surrounding landscape.

5. Wildflowers: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, creating a colorful and picturesque atmosphere.

6. Wildlife: Keep an eye out for various wildlife species along the trail, including deer, elk, birds, and possibly even black bears.

7. Historical Sites: While the trail primarily showcases natural beauty, there are also some historical sites nearby, such as the remains of old logging camps and remnants of the area’s logging history.

8. Rock Formations: The trail passes by interesting rock formations, adding an element of geological fascination to the hike.

9. Moss-Covered Trees: The trail is lined with moss-covered trees, creating a magical and ethereal atmosphere.

10. Panoramic Views: As you ascend higher on the trail, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Remember to check local regulations and trail conditions before embarking on your journey, as some areas may be subject to closures or restrictions.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or overnight stays are allowed along the trail.
– No fires or open flames are permitted.
– No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.
– No hunting or fishing is allowed.
– No littering or dumping of any kind is permitted.
– No off-trail hiking or exploration is allowed.
– No swimming or wading in the river is allowed.
– No picking or damaging of plants, flowers, or wildlife is permitted.
– No feeding or approaching wildlife is allowed.
– No amplified music or excessive noise is permitted.
– No alcohol or illegal substances are allowed on the trail.
– No drones or remote-controlled devices are permitted.
– No mountain biking or horseback riding is allowed on the trail.
– No trail modifications or construction is permitted.
– No commercial activities or organized events are allowed without prior permission.
– The trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or maintenance work.

Seasonal Information

The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail, located in the beautiful Willamette National Forest in Oregon, offers a stunning hiking experience throughout the year. However, the best times to visit this trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant wildflowers, lush greenery, and the soothing sound of the rushing Breitenbush River. The temperatures are mild, making it perfect for a leisurely hike or a picnic by the water. Fall, on the other hand, brings a breathtaking display of autumn colors as the leaves change, creating a picturesque landscape that is truly awe-inspiring.

It is important to note that the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail has seasonal closures due to weather conditions and maintenance. During the winter months, the trail is often covered in snow and can be inaccessible. It is advisable to check with the local forest service or park authorities for the latest updates on trail closures and conditions before planning your visit. Additionally, it is recommended to bring appropriate gear and clothing, such as sturdy hiking boots, rain gear, and layers, as the weather in the area can be unpredictable.

Despite the seasonal closures, the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail offers a variety of activities and sights throughout the year. From hiking and nature photography to fishing and birdwatching, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The trail provides opportunities to spot wildlife, including deer, elk, and various bird species. The peaceful ambiance and the sound of the river flowing through the gorge create a serene and tranquil atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat in nature.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is mild, and the scenery is at its most vibrant. However, it is essential to stay informed about seasonal closures and weather conditions before planning your trip. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, this trail offers a memorable experience in the heart of Oregon’s natural beauty.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its rugged terrain and lack of paved pathways.
2. ADA Accommodations: While the trail itself may not have specific ADA accommodations, the nearby Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort offers accessible facilities and accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Parking: The trailhead does not have designated accessible parking spaces, but there are parking areas available for all visitors.
4. Restrooms: The trailhead does not have accessible restrooms, but the nearby Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort provides accessible restroom facilities.
5. Trail Surface: The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail consists of natural surfaces, such as dirt and rocks, which may pose challenges for individuals with mobility impairments.
6. Trail Width: The trail is narrow in some sections, making it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
7. Steep Inclines: The trail includes steep inclines and uneven terrain, making it unsuitable for wheelchair users or individuals with limited mobility.
8. Trail Obstacles: The trail may have fallen trees, rocks, or other obstacles that can impede accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
9. Assistance Required: Due to the trail’s challenging nature, individuals with disabilities may require assistance from others to navigate the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail safely.
10. Alternative Accessible Trails: If you are seeking accessible trails in the area, consider exploring other nearby trails that are specifically designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is a moderately difficult trail with steep sections and uneven terrain.
2. Proper Footwear: Wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction to navigate the rocky and sometimes slippery trail.
3. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 6 miles long, so plan accordingly and bring enough water and snacks.
4. Weather Awareness: Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.
5. River Crossings: Be cautious when crossing the river, as water levels can vary and rocks may be slippery.
6. Wildlife Encounter: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and do not feed or approach them.
7. Trail Markers: Pay attention to trail markers and signs to avoid getting lost or taking wrong turns.
8. Poisonous Plants: Be aware of poison oak and other poisonous plants along the trail, and avoid contact.
9. Cell Phone Reception: There may be limited or no cell phone reception in the area, so inform someone about your plans and expected return time.
10. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and leaving the trail and surrounding areas as you found them.

Conservation Notes

The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is considered to have a relatively stable conservation status. The trail is located within the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, and it is managed by the United States Forest Service. The conservation efforts in this area primarily focus on preserving the natural habitat, protecting the biodiversity, and maintaining the ecological balance.

The South Breitenbush Gorge Trail traverses through a diverse range of ecosystems, including old-growth forests, riparian zones, and rocky outcrops. These habitats provide critical shelter and food sources for numerous plant and animal species. The conservation status of the trail ensures that these habitats remain intact and undisturbed, allowing for the preservation of the unique flora and fauna found in the area.

To protect the trail and its surrounding environment, various measures have been implemented. These include limiting human impact through designated trails, enforcing strict regulations on camping and waste disposal, and educating visitors about the importance of responsible outdoor practices. Additionally, the Forest Service conducts regular monitoring and assessment of the trail’s condition to identify any potential threats or issues that may arise.

Overall, the conservation status of the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is considered to be well-managed, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the natural resources and ecosystems in the area. The efforts put forth by the Forest Service and other conservation organizations contribute to the preservation of this beautiful trail and its surrounding environment for future generations to enjoy.

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