Amidst Klamath’s vast landscapes, three Oregon State Parks stand out as havens of natural beauty, history, and adventure. These parks offer a rich tapestry of experiences, from the serene kayaking journeys on the crystal-clear waters of Spring Creek to the historic trails of the OC&E Woods Line State Trail. The campgrounds provide a tranquil backdrop under starlit skies for those who wish to immerse themselves in nature. As you plan your adventures in Klamath, be sure to add an Oregon State Park experience to your itinerary. Whether you're a paddling enthusiast, a camper seeking solace amidst whispering pines, or a history aficionado ready to delve into the past, Klamath's state parks invite you to create memories that last a lifetime. Embark on this journey and uncover the magic of Klamath!
The pristine beauty of Collier Memorial State Park is best captured at the convergence of the Williamson River and the crystal-clear Spring Creek. Kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders find solace in the clear waters of Spring Creek, with its dramatic emergence from a nearby spring painting a picturesque backdrop for their adventures. You might need to see it to believe it; floating through a pine forest on turquoise waters seems like a totally otherworldly paddling experience. Regardless of your kayaking experience or ability, this park features a unique ADA-accessible kayak launch, ensuring that the joys of paddling are accessible to all. Plus, just below the confluence of Spring Creek, the Williamson River is renowned regionally for its exceptional trout fishery, which consistently produces trophy fish, including the Red Band trout, a species only found in Klamath.
Looking for a little more adventure in your paddling experience, the Wood River at Jackson Kimball State Park is home to the headwaters of another crystal clear spring: the Wood River. With its headwaters providing an ideal starting point, paddlers can decide the length of their float down the river. Unlike the straight and easy paddle of Spring Creek, the Wood River includes a few more challenges with underwater obstacles, shallow sandbars, tight turns, and bridges that require careful maneuvering. The scenery is a stark contrast, too. While Spring Creek takes you through a pine forest, the Wood River offers views of expansive grasslands and farm fields. Both rivers, however, share the characteristic of incredibly chilly waters, so paddlers should be prepared.
For those new to the area or looking for a guided experience, Oregon State Parks offers summertime kayak tours at Collier Memorial State Park, which can be booked online. Additionally, local outfitters provide various services, including guided tours of multiple springs and paddling locations, kayak and equipment rentals, and shuttle services between put-in and take-out locations. Both Spring Creek and the Wood River are popular destinations, especially in the summer. To ensure a serene experience, it's advisable to plan ahead. Consider visiting during weekdays or the shoulder season to avoid crowds. And most importantly, always respect both the natural environment and private property to ensure these beautiful locations remain pristine for future generations. Much of Spring Creek and Wood river run along private property and dock space.
The OC&E Woods Line State Trail, Oregon’s longest linear park, spans an impressive 100 miles and is a testament to the region's rich history and natural splendor. Built on the historic railbed of the Oregon, California, and Eastern Railroad (OC&E), this trail invites visitors to embark on a journey through time. The vision of journalist and railroad scout Robert E. Strahorn materialized as the Klamath Falls Municipal Railway, connecting Klamath Falls to various Oregonian towns. Initiated in 1917, the railway reached its zenith by 1929, touching Bly and catalyzing the growth of logging camps and lumber mills. These engines transported staggering quantities of pine logs at their peak, sometimes reaching one million board feet daily. Yet, by 1990, the era of logging via this railroad concluded. The transition of the right of way by Weyerhaeuser Co. to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department marked a new chapter for this trail.
Today, with its blend of historical significance, varied terrains, and breathtaking beauty, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail offers a distinctive experience for every adventurer. Whether you're cycling through epochs, marveling at nature's marvels, or seeking a serene retreat, this trail beckons with diverse allure. Beginning in Klamath Falls, the Urban Section is paved and popular among joggers, walkers, and bikers. It offers panoramic views of the majestic Mt. Shasta and winds through picturesque farmland, culminating at Olene. As adventurers progress, the trail transforms, presenting the gravelly Gateway Section adorned with juniper and sagebrush. Further ahead, the Sprague River Section showcases the beauty of timberlands and the serene Sprague River. The trail's final stretch, the Woods Line Section, north of Beatty, plunges visitors into dense, aromatic forests with crossings over the tranquil Five Mile Creek.
For adventurers eager to explore, preparation is key. Carrying ample water is crucial, with no potable water sources on the trail. For the latest trail conditions and updates, learn more on the Oregon State Parks website.
Play and Learn
Located within Collier Memorial State Park, the Collier Logging Museum is a living testament to Klamath’s illustrious lumbering heritage and a fun way to experience the history, technology and machinery that defined the industry. As visitors explore the open-air museum, they are greeted by an impressive array of logging and railroad equipment, each piece narrating a distinct chapter of the region's timber history. Ingenious equipment, interesting vehicles, and unique artifacts, all varying in scale and age, paint a vivid picture of the evolution of logging technology over the years that is fun to explore whether you’re visiting with kids, or learning more at any age!
Adding to the museum's charm are historical cabins from different regions of the west, each offering a window into the lifestyles and architectural nuances of bygone eras. One of the museum's unique features is its chronological layout, allowing visitors to journey through time and witness the progression of the logging industry. On special occasions, the museum grounds come alive with "Living History Days." These events transport visitors back in time as they watch individuals in traditional attire demonstrate various logging techniques.
Stay & Relax
For those seeking a tranquil escape amidst nature, Klamath's state parks offer an array of camping experiences that promise both adventure and relaxation.
Perfectly positioned near the meeting point of Spring Creek and the Williamson River, the Collier Memorial State Park Campground serves as an excellent launchpad for adventures in the park and the wider Klamath region, including the renowned Crater Lake National Park. The campground boasts two distinct loops, catering to both traditional campers and those seeking full-hookup sites. Additionally, equestrian enthusiasts will find a dedicated Horse Camp with corrals and direct access to the expansive USFS Rd 390 trail. While the campground welcomes visitors mainly during the warmer seasons, those keen on securing a spot can make early reservations through reserveamerica.com.
For campers seeking a more rustic experience, the Jackson F. Kimball State Recreation Site offers a secluded haven beside a spring-fed lagoon, the very source of the Wood River. A picturesque trail links the campground to the spring's origin, enveloped by the gentle whispers of lodgepole pines. This campground, offering a genuine back-to-nature experience devoid of modern amenities, operates only when the region is snow-free and follows a first-come-first-served system.
Find Your Park
Klamath's state parks offer diverse experiences, from the thrill of kayaking crystal-clear waters to the serenity of camping amidst nature. With each visit, there's always something new to explore, be it a hidden trail or a scenic paddle route. As you venture beyond, remember that the parks are a testament to Oregon's natural beauty and rich history. Whether you're an avid kayaker, a history enthusiast, or someone seeking a peaceful retreat, Klamath invites you to dive deeper, explore further, and make the most of every moment in this remarkable region.
After immersing yourself in the beauty and history of Klamath's state parks, consider elevating your adventure by visiting Crater Lake National Park. Just a short drive away, Crater Lake offers a mesmerizing blend of deep blue waters and sheer cliff walls. As the deepest lake in the U.S., its pristine beauty and unique geological history make it a natural extension of your park exploration. Dive into its legends, hike its scenic trails, or simply marvel at its vastness. Pairing your state park journey with the awe of Crater Lake ensures a truly unforgettable Oregon experience.