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Dan's Trail Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Oregon white oak, Chip Ross Park (bobcat)
Ascending Dimple Hill, Dan's Trail (bobcat)
Puffballs, Horse Trail (bobcat)
Oak galls, Horse Trail (bobcat)
The double loop from Chip Ross Park to Dimple Hill (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Chip Ross Park TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Dimple Hill
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Figure eight loop
  • Distance: 9.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1865 feet
  • High Point: 1,495 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Poison Oak

Contents

Description

Hiking in Oregon State University's McDonald State Forest usually involves combining foot/single track trails with forest roads. This double loop is no exception although you will spend much more time on the former than the latter. You'll begin in Chip Ross Park, a Corvallis city park that supports native oak and madrone woodland. The park abuts the research forest, where you'll pick up the trail system that leads to the crest of Dimple Hill and its viewpoint. To make the hike a loop, return via a road that sees little or no vehicle travel on weekends, and then find the Horse Trail leading back down a slope. Note that the trails are hiker-only from November 1st to April 15th; thus, while this is a good low-elevation winter hike, you can also catch the early spring and forest wildflowers before the trail restrictions are lifted and horses and mountain bikers can use the paths beginning in mid-April.

The information board at Chip Ross Park has the usual warnings about urban bears, cougars, and coyotes. Take a wide trail heading north above a church parking lot and enter a mixed foothill forest of oak, Douglas-fir, madrone, big-leaf maple, hawthorn, and grand fir. The trail heads up to the left above a field on a rather slick road bed. Ignore a side trail which heads down to the right. Pass the Willi Unsoeld Memorial plaque (The famous local mountaineer perished on Mount Rainier) and head into an open grassy area with a view of Corvallis. Another plaque here commemorates Dr. Francois Archibald Gilfillan, a former Dean of Science and Acting President at OSU. Keep right and head up to a bench at the summit of this hill. From here, enter the woods again and switchback down on a muddy, sloppy trail to a map sign at the Chip Ross-Lower Dan's Trail Junction, where you go right and reach a signboard for the McDonald State Forest. Some trails in the forest are closed to bikers and horses from 10/15 to 4/15.

After a few yards, stay right on Lower Dan's Trail, and keep right at the next junction as well. The trail heads along a hillside, crosses a powerline corridor, drops, switchbacks, traverses, and switchbacks again. Traverse west and pass the trail leading right for Jackson Creek at the Lower Dan's-Upper Dan's Trail Junction. Keep left for Dimple Hill, head up, and cross a road. From here, you're on Upper Dan’s Trail as you pass under apple trees. The trail enters mixed woods and rises, passing a few large stumps. Now switchback down and cross Jackson Creek. Ascend again and, almost at a road, take Upper Dan’s Trail up to the left in big-leaf maple, Douglas-fir, grand fir woods with a few oaks. Pass a large Douglas-fir and make four switchbacks. The entire forest is carpeted with invasive false-brome and some sword fern. The path drops and rises and then switchbacks up five times. Make a traverse and switchback at a bench and head up, passing a trail spur to a road on the right. The trail reaches the summit viewpoint on Dimple Hill, with a grassy area falling away below and a plaque on a rock memorializing Daniel Petrequin, horseman and trail builder. On a clear day, there are extensive views to Corvallis, Marys Peak and the central Cascades. Go right up to the true summit, which has horse hitches and a bench under a stately grove of old-growth Douglas-firs.

To complete the return loop, walk down the summit road past slag heaps of logs. Expect to encounter mountain bikers here. Reach a road junction with a lone oak tree and go right onto Patterson Road. Drop down, passing the 2.0 mile marker. These are predominantly Douglas-fir woods, with a few old trees. Reach the Upper Horse Trail-Patterson Road Junction and go right on the trail.

Make six switchbacks down and, at a junction, go right for Jackson Creek following an old road bed. At the next junction, keep right. Switchback down, cross a road and enter dark woods that are carpeted with tiny mushrooms in the fall. Make three long switchbacks down before the trail levels for a short stretch. Then the path drops again and reaches an open grassy slope. You can see a private residence below in the valley. Walk down the grassy area, which has been colonized by Queen Anne’s lace. At a junction, go left and reach a road.

Hike down this road to a junction with another road. Head left for 20 yards and see the sign for Lower Dan’s Trail. Cross Jackson Creek on a footbridge and pass through an open area with hawthorn thickets. At the Lower Dan's-Upper Dan's Trail Junction, go left and head back under the powerlines to Chip Ross Park.

Back at the Chip Ross-Lower Dan's Trail Junction at the base of the hill in Chip Ross Park, make a right and head along an old road bed. Wend your way east, passing a several junctions. First, a trail leads right down into the Timberhill Natural Area. Drop into a ravine and then rise into an open area. At a four-way junction, keep straight, drop, and then head up in the forest. The trail descends again into a grassy area. At another junction, keep straight. There’s a fence to the right. The trail drops under oaks and one can branch off to the right, past a memorial plaque, to the Chip Ross Park Trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Information kiosk
  • Picnic tables
  • Trails closed to bikes and horses November 1st to April 15th
  • The McDonald State Forest is an research area: stay on the trails

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range by William L. Sullivan
  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • More Oregon Trails and Horse Camps by Kim McCarrel
  • Corvallis Trails by Margie C. Powell
  • A Guide to Trails in the Corvallis Area by Phillip R. Hays

More Links


Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.