Wildwood Recreation Site, Welches, Oregon

Just twenty miles from Oregon’s iconic Timberline Lodge (if you’re traveling on U.S. 26 in the direction of Government Camp), the Wildwood Recreation Site is an excellent stopping off point on your way to the summit of Mt. Hood.

A rest stop on steroids, visitors to Wildwood Recreation Site can recreate in the following ways: hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, geocaching, and nature watching. ADA accessible, Wildwood is great for families with strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs.

We visited Wildwood Recreation Site during spring break, in the brief transition window just after the snow melts but before pollen fills the air.

Where to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in Welches, Oregon from traditional hotels to private vacation rentals through Stay22.com:

Hugging the south side of the Salmon River, the Cascade Streamwatch Trail is a paved 3/4 mile loop nature trail with interpretive markers highlighting history, ecology, and environmental impact of various industries on the river basin. A highlight of the Cascade Streamwatch Trail is the Underwater Viewing Area leading visitors into a lower-level glass viewing area of a small stream tributary off the Salmon River. Here you can view water nymphs and smaller fish seeking protection under logs and other debris.

Along the path are several marked picnic areas with wooden tables and charcoal grills. The picnic areas look almost like camp sites; we initially thought this is what they were but posted signs prohibit overnight camping. Near the Underwater Viewing Area is a rocky beach, perfect for skipping stones and wading in warmer weather.

Crossing over the Salmon River on a wooden bridge leads to the Wildwood Wetland Trail, a crushed gravel and wooden boardwalk path with bifurcations into the mountain wetland for key viewing points and interpretive material like this durable book on the Oregon beaver. Did you know adult beavers weigh an average of between 45 and 50 pounds? Now you do.

The Wetland Trail leads to the Boulder Ridge Trail, a 4.7-mile hike up Huckleberry Mountain into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness but was closed during our visit (due to recent winter storm damage and erosion).

Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, we used our annual National Parks Pass for a day visit (we spent about an hour and a half on the trails). Admission varies by the size of your group, with additional fees to reserve a picnic shelter (annual passes are available). See the Wildwood Recreation Site website for complete details, including considerations during COVID: https://www.blm.gov/visit/wildwood-recreation-site

Happy Trails!

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.