Hiking, Camping and More: 5 Forest Recreation Ideas for Nature Enthusiasts

Do you love spending time in nature? Want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world? Discover all the recreation activities that Oregon forests have to offer, whether you’re a longtime resident, a newcomer or a visitor. Read on for some forest recreation ideas that allow you to take advantage of Oregon’s great outdoors. We also have some tips to make sure you’re safe and adequately prepared for whatever forest recreation activity you choose.

1. Hiking

Oregon forests have incredible trails to explore. The trails are often available to hike year-round. To make your hike the best it can be, follow these tips:

  • Wear low-cut, closed-toe shoes with flexible soles.
  • Look up the weather ahead of time and plan accordingly. For instance, if there’s a chance of light rain, take a windbreaker as one of your light clothing layers.
  • Pack a small backpack or bag with a few things to stay safe. This can include sunscreen, band-aids, a small first-aid kit and insect repellent.
  • Bring water bottles and snacks. For any forest recreation activity, trail mix is a classic snack due to its lightweight and nutritional value.
  • Take a map of the area Remember, it’s very possible you won’t have cell service, so you won’t be able to depend on map apps.
  • Stay safe and stick to the designated hiking trails. Going off a path can be dangerous.
  • Be aware of any dangerous plant and animal life you may come across in the forest. Watch out for those on your hike. Also, avoid eating any plants you find. Even if you see berries or mushrooms, they may end up being poisonous. In general, it’s better to be safe than sorry. That adage applies to all forest recreation activities.
  • Get back before it gets dark. Give yourself plenty of time to complete your hike. Schedule your hiking day accordingly, and wear a watch to stay on schedule.
  • Bring a journal to take notes of all the cool things you come across on your hike.

2. Cycling or Mountain Biking

Biking is a popular pastime in Oregon, and we suggest taking it into nature and hitting some of Oregon’s biking trails. Whether you’re looking for a smooth path for the whole family, or for something a little more challenging, Oregon has a little bit of everything.

Make sure you’re protected as you ride. Have a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, whatever you need for the terrain you’ll be covering. Wear closed-toe shoes. Stay hydrated and bring snacks. Even if you’re not biking a marathon, it’s important to get enough water and keep up your energy.

3. Camping

Oregon is filled with campgrounds—both state and national forests and parks offer camping. You can pick many places in the state and find a place to set up camp, and many of Oregon’s camping areas are open year-round.

Be sure to book campsites early, as many camping areas fill up fast. You should also do some research about the specifics of the area if it’s an unfamiliar spot. And look into any reviews from previous campers. They might have some tips for specific supplies to bring or situations for which to be prepared.

As with all of these outdoor forest recreation ideas, make sure that you research and follow outdoor safety guidelines:

  • Have important phone numbers handy in case of emergency. Look up the forest service ranger district phone number. This is a good number to call if anyone gets injured.
  • Give your planned itinerary to someone who won’t be going on the camping trip.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and double-check the weather right before you head out. You don’t want to get caught in an unexpected storm.

While you’re in nature, make sure to pack everything you’re going to need for your entire stay. Some of the essentials to pack include:

  • Sufficient water for every camper
  • Light, layered clothing
  • Insect repellent
  • First aid kit
  • A map of the area
  • A flashlight with replacement batteries just in case
  • Sun protection gear such as sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, etc. (this is important no matter what time of year it is)
  • Meal supplies and snacks

4. Fishing

We speak for the trees, but bodies of water are another beautiful part of Oregon’s forests that are great for recreation activities. People love fishing because it’s relaxing, and you can catch a delicious meal. Of course, some prefer catch-and-release fishing, which comes with its own skill set.

If you’re an experienced fisherman, you’ll already have your gear. But if you’re new to fishing, prepare by making sure you have the right equipment. You should also practice your fishing techniques. For instance, practice your casting method and keep a strong grip on the handle of your fishing rod.

No matter what time of year it is, stay safe from the sun. Wear sunscreen and bring some to reapply throughout the day. And don’t forget to wear sunglasses and a hat.

Since you’re near bodies of water, it also doesn’t hurt to bring a floatation vest. Again, better safe than sorry.

Avoid fishing if the weather is calling for thunder and/or lightning. You can always reschedule fishing or other forest recreation activities for occasions with better (and safer) weather.

5. Nature Study and Observation

Studying nature includes forest recreation ideas such as sightseeing, bird watching and nature photography, among many others. Many of these activities are free, and it’s easy to observe nature and wildlife without disturbing it.

Observing nature can be especially fun if you have children who are interested in learning more about the outdoors. If they have a specific topic of interest like trees, insects or flowers, you can observe the Oregon forests by focusing on those.

You can also just take a leisurely walk along the paths and trails in Oregon’s forests and encourage your kids to notice their surroundings. Encourage questions about the trees, insects, animals and plant life you see along the way. Keep a journal to jot down all the cool things you come across.

There are so many possibilities for enjoying the beauty of nature. As nature enthusiasts and outdoor activity lovers, we all want Oregon and its beautiful forests to thrive. By managing the forests, we can ensure everyone can continue to enjoy all forest recreation activities. Join Oregon Forests Forever email list to learn more about how you can help Oregon forests thrive.

We’re focused on actively and sustainably managing our forests in Oregon.

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