If you live in the Willamette Valley, you are probably familiar with the pleasures of riding at Willamette Mission State Park. It’s a beautiful place with wonderful trails.
If you’re not from the Willamette Valley, you may be interested to know that this state park has a very nice horse camp. It’s easy to reach the park from I-5, and it’s a good place to stay overnight while traveling with your horses.
The riding at Willamette Mission is a favorite with locals. Equestrians enjoy seven miles of easy, level trails that run through forests and meadows, past working farmland, and along the bank of the Willamette River.
Willamette Mission is a great spot for an after-work ride in summer, or a leisurely weekend ride year round.
The park has an interesting back story, too. It was the site of the historic Jason Lee mission, the first Methodist mission in Oregon. While Lee wasn’t very successful in converting Indians to Christianity, his mission provided stability and leadership for white settlers. Lee founded Willamette University and played an important role in making Oregon part of the United States.
Getting There: From I-5 north of Salem, take Exit 263 (Brooks/Gervais) and turn west on Brooklake Road. Drive 1.7 miles and turn right on Wheatland Road. The park is 2.4 miles ahead on the left.
Fees: Fee for overnight camping or for day use. Reservations are required at the horse camp. Call 800-452-5687 or go to www.reserveamerica.com for reservations.
Season: The horse camp is open May through October. The day-use area and trails are open year round, though some trails may be closed in winter due to high water.
Day-Use Facilities: Toilets and parking for 100+ trailers.
Camping Facilities: Four sites with log corrals for 4 horses each. All sites are large enough for two vehicles, and two sites are pull-throughs. All sites have picnic tables and fire rings. The camp has a toilet, drinking water, manure bin, and garbage cans.
More Information: The trails out of Willamette Mission State Park are covered in more detail in Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2013).