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Waterloo Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Revision as of 15:49, 10 February 2020 by Bobcat (Talk | contribs)

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Canada geese at a riffle on the South Santiam River, Waterloo County Park (bobcat)
Steps to a forested bench, Waterloo County Park (bobcat)
Skipper on a bull thistle, Waterloo County Park (bobcat)
The loop around Waterloo County Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Waterloo TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Waterloo Campground B Loop
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 65 feet
  • High point: 415 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes, in summer


Hike Description

Waterloo is a 128-acre Linn County Park on the South Santiam River next to the village of Waterloo. Settlement here began with the harnessing of Waterloo Falls, really just a five-foot rapid in the river, for a grist mill. The park itself has large grassy spaces, a two-loop campground, and a one-mile front on the river itself. The main trail loops around the park and passes through its disc gold course. Numerous minor trails and connectors make navigation a little confusing, but the open central space is never far away and often in sight.

You’ll see a hiker sign to the right of the restrooms. Walk up to an avenue of blackberry and ivy-draped alders, and go right. Keep straight at a crossroads to reach the park road. Find the trail on the other side which leads down to a rocky bench on the river from where you can observe the narrows and Waterloo Falls.

Return to the road the way you came, and drop to an ADA fishing platform. Get views up and down river from here, and then continue walking along the edge of a wide grassy expanse under tall cottonwoods. Ground squirrels are numerous here, and their burrows perforate the lawn. You’ll see a covered picnic shelter and some play structures before the trail burrows into snowberry/ blackberry/ hazel thickets. Cross a damaged boat ramp, and resume the trail under rustling cottonwoods and Oregon ash trees. Tracks lead left to the cobbled bars of the South Santiam River and right into the campground. Eventually, the trail curves right up a low bluff. Make a left at a large cottonwood, and emerge at the campground B Loop. Cross the camping area to the other side of the loop, and go right on the loop road.

When you come to the campground entrance station, go left past a storage building, and find steps leading up a bluff to the disc golf course. Continue up a second terrace, and bear right along a wide, open corridor. Keep straight, and drop off the bluff to pass under hazel bowers and tall Douglas-firs. Keep left at a junction, and then stay right where another spur trail leads to a disc golf tee and open area shaded by big-leaf maples. Stay on the bluff, ignoring trails to the left and right. After passing Tee #3, hike under spreading oak trees to find the trail that leads down to your car.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Day use open dawn to dusk
  • Picnic area, restrooms, campground, off-leash area
  • Share trails with cyclists and disc golfers

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger

More Links


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.