Have you ever ridden through a covered bridge on a trail ride? Covered bridges are just one of the attractions you’ll enjoy on the Row River Trail, which runs for 15 miles through farmland and forest, along the pretty shore of Dorena Lake, and past a couple of the small mill towns that sprang up along the Row (rhymes with cow) River in the early 1900s.
The Row River Trail is a rails-to-trails conversion near Cottage Grove, Oregon, about 25 miles south of Eugene. The trail follows the old Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad line, which was originally owned by the Bohemia Mining Company and used to haul people and freight between Cottage Grove and Disston. The entire length of the trail is paved, but beside the pavement you’ll find a nice 2-foot wide gravel path expressly for horses.
Admittedly, the Row River Trail is fairly popular with bicyclists. But don’t worry. The trail has long lines of sight so you’ll be able to see cyclists coming a long way off, and little elevation change so the bikes aren’t going very fast. Plus, they’re on the pavement and you’re not.
The trail actually begins in downtown Cottage Grove, but for the first couple of miles it runs through city and suburban areas, so it’s best to skip that part. Start your ride at Mosby Creek Trailhead, which has plenty of trailer parking, plus other amenities.
The trail’s covered bridges are a delight. The Mosby Covered Bridge is next to the trail near the Mosby Creek Trailhead. About 1.5 miles later you’ll come to the Currin Covered Bridge, not far off the trail. (Turn left on Oak Road just before you cross the Row River for the second time, and ride along the road a short distance to reach the bridge.) The Dorena Covered Bridge is also a short detour off the trail, in the town of Dorena. (Just after you pass the Dorena School, turn right on a dirt road, then turn right again on Row River Road and ride beside it for 0.1 mile. Cross the road and ride behind the traffic barricades to reach the bridge.)
In addition to the covered bridges, the Row River Trail takes you past quiet farmlands and along the forested shore of pretty Dorena Lake. You’ll pass by the Harms Park trestle (featured in the movie Stand By Me), and the tiny towns of Dorena and Culp Creek.
The Row River Trail is a fun, easy, and memorable ride. Don’t miss it!
Getting There: The Row River Trail has several trailheads along its length, but most don’t have room for horse trailers. The best equestrian parking is at the Mosby Creek Trailhead (pronounced MOZE-bee). From I-5 south of Eugene, take Exit 174 (Cottage Grove/Dorena Lake) and drive east on Row River Road. In 0.7 mile, turn right on Currin Conn Road. Turn left on Mosby Creek Road and follow it 2 miles. Turn left on Layng Road and immediately turn left into the trailhead. You may also find a couple of trailer parking spots near the boat ramp at Harms Park, east of Cottage Grove on Row River Road.
Facilities: The Mosby Creek Trailhead has a huge trailer parking area, plus toilets, a manure bin, garbage cans, picnic tables, a hitching rail, an accessible mounting ramp, and potable water from a spigot.
More Information: The Row River Trail is covered in more detail in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, and in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, both by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2017). Available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.
Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, March 2017.