The E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, located about 9 miles north of Corvallis, OR, offers miles of easy riding and a fascinating glimpse into local history.
This area was originally the site of the town of Wells, population 750. In 1941, government men showed up and told everyone they had to move out immediately – go find a new farm or home somewhere else. It was the early days of World War II, and the Army needed the townsite to build an infantry training facility. The new base, named Camp Adair, was built in six months. At its height, the facility had over 35,000 troops and 1,800 buildings. It even housed German prisoners of war for a time. The Army moved out in 1948, and two years later the Oregon Game Commission acquired the northern part of the camp and turned it into a wildlife refuge.
Distance: Varies by route taken
Elevation: 210 to 250 feet
The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W) has done considerable work to restore the area’s seasonal wetlands. As you ride, you can enjoy a bit of wildlife watching and look for the remains of Camp Adair building foundations. You can follow the single-track trails, explore the gravel roads, or ride beside the extensive grid of paved roads that lace the Wildlife Area. Or you can ride cross-country.
Hunting is allowed here, so be sure to check the ODF&W website for the hunting season schedule.
The E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area does not allow overnight camping. The closest horse camp is Willamette Mission State Park north of Salem, about 40 miles away. Willamette Mission Horse Camp has four campsites with 4-horse corrals, a toilet, drinking water, a manure bin, and garbage cans. You can read more about Willamette Mission State Park at https://17dma4xqmp5g26l8-29905508.shopifypreview.com/blogs/northwest-oregon-horse-trails/willamette-mission-state-park.
Getting to the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area
From Corvallis, take Hwy. 99W north for 8.5 miles, then turn right on Camp Adair Road. Continue 0.2 mile and park on the side of the road near the entrance to the Wildlife Area. Alternatively, there are several places to park next to the access gates along Camp Adair Road, 1.3 miles north of the turnoff for the Camp Adair Frontage Road.
You’ll find more information about the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.