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Little North Santiam Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Rock pinnacle at three pools (cfm)
The crystal clear water of the Little North Fork Santiam River (cfm)
footbridge in the mossy forest (cfm)
  • Start point: Little North Santiam TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Shady Cove Campground
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out and back or Shuttle
  • Distance: 9 miles out and back, or 4.5 mile shuttle
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Treat your eyes to a visual feast of greens as you hike through an old growth forest along a magical river. The Little North Santiam Trail is located in the Opal Creek Recreation Area. The 4.5 mile long rolling route parallels the river with a trailhead at either end. This is a great trail for shuttling or stashing your bike near the upper trailhead and driving back down and starting at the lower trailhead.

Starting at the Little North Santiam Trailhead, you will have a mild elevation gain to a high point halfway along the trail. There are a number of wooden footbridges along the way, and several opportunities to scramble down to the river and enjoy the smooth stoned beds, chutes of crystal clear water and emerald pools perfect for swimming on a hot day. Just after 3 miles, you will pass a viewpoint for the Three Pools area with a nifty rock pinnacle in the river. This is a good turnaround point if you are happy with a 6.5 mile hike. The Three Pools Day Use Area is across the river, so on hot days you will see people swimming here.

If you choose to continue on, at 4.5 miles, you will emerge from the forest onto Road 2207. Just over the bridge to your left is the Shady Cove Campground. Grab your bike and zoom back to your car, or turn around here and hike back.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, Bull of the Woods Wilderness, Opal Creek Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area
  • Geo-Graphics: Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Map
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest: Detroit Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Willamette National Forest
  • Pacific Northwest Recreation Map Series: Willamette Cascades

Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • A Northwest Forest Pass is needed to park at the east trailhead only.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region by Matt Reeder
  • 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades , by William L. Sullivan
  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger

More Links


  • cfm (creator)
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.