The Top Trails and Ales in Oregon

5 craft breweries, 8 adventure-filled hikes

It’s no secret that we in Oregon love our beer. According to the Brewers Association, an industry advocacy group, nearly 230 craft breweries produced more than 1 million barrels of mouthwatering barley pop in 2015 alone. Put another way, that’s 11.3 gallons for every adult of legal drinking age.

For all of our state’s well-earned plaudits, that beer never tastes better than just after we’ve returned from the foot of a waterfall or descended from epic summits. What better way to kick back and relax after a day on the trails than with one of Oregon’s best brews? Behold: some of the state’s most beautiful outdoor adventures paired with its top craft breweries. Cheers!

Deschutes Brewery: Bend

Few breweries forge a tighter connection to their hometown than Bend’s Deschutes Brewery. The brewery’s flagship pale ale is named for Mirror Pond, just a few blocks from Deschutes’ long-standing brewpub in downtown Bend, and its signature porter is named for Black Butte, one of a myriad of iconic peaks in the nearby Cascades.

It’s no surprise, then, that a pint at Deschutes pairs well with one of the region’s forest hikes. Here are two of our favorites.

Deschutes River Trail

Located mere blocks from the Deschutes Brewery Restaurant and Brewpub in downtown Bend, the Deschutes River Trail presents the perfect primer for hikers getting to know the Central Oregon landscape. Ponderosa pine trees line the popular 2.8-mile trail, and the Deschutes River alternately rages and rambles alongside hikers for most of the hike. Enjoy passing by a few wetlands, and keep an eye out for towhee, sparrows, and buntings, all native to Oregon.

Deschutes River Trail | Photo: Hiking Project Contributor Matt Hoover

Deschutes River Trail | Photo: Hiking Project contributor Matt Hoover

Shevlin Loop Trail

The 600-acre Shevlin Park is home to the five-mile Shevlin Loop Trail. Hikers, cyclists, and runners share the well-maintained trail, which parallels bucolic Tumalo Creek the entire way. The Shevlin Loop Trail remains accessible for much of the year, even after snow renders many of the region’s trails inaccessible. Hiking Project contributor Tane Owens calls it, “an after-work special for the Bend 9-to-5er.”

pFriem Family Brewers: Hood River

pFriem Family Brewers, located a quick walk from the banks of the Columbia River in downtown Hood River, has earned a reputation for outstanding Belgian-inspired beers. Pronounced “freem,” the brewery’s Belgian Dark Strong packs a bold, chocolatey punch, and its sweet Saison delivers a taste of the tropics. Not far away, you’ll find a trail with equal amounts of punch.

Twin Tunnels Trail

Too often, the meadows of bright yellow balsam root and waterside views of Columbia River Gorge are enjoyed from the passenger seat of a speeding car. The Twin Tunnels Trail invites hikers and cyclists to bask in those views from the old Columbia River Highway, which closed following the completion of Interstate 84 in 1954. The paved trail opened to foot and cycling traffic in 2000; today, over nine miles of repurposed road and glimpses of the surrounding crags lure hikers all year long.

Occidental Brewing Company: Portland

Occidental Brewing Company sits in the shadow of the iconic St. Johns Bridge, a Portland landmark spanning the Willamette River, just a quick hike from Forest Park. Once you’ve wrapped up a romp through one of the largest urban parks in the nation, stop by the quiet brewery for one of Occidental’s German-inspired beers. (Pro tip: Head across the parking lot to Occidental’s Tap Room and Wursthaus for unimpeachable bridge views and a selection of German-inspired cuisine—the perfect pick-me-up after a day in the woods).

Wildwood National Recreation Trail

At nearly 30 miles long, hikers could make a case for the Wildwood National Recreation Trail as the crown jewel of Forest Park’s extensive trail system. Enjoy varied ecosystems and an array of bird species (more than 100 have been spotted in the park). No matter the season, the Wildwood Trail offers something for everyone, from fall colors every autumn, to open city views in spring and summer. Plus, it’s pedestrian-only year-round.

Wildwood Trail | Photo: Hiking Project contributor Todd Johnson

Wildwood Trail | Photo: Hiking Project contributor Todd Johnson

Maple Trail

The Douglas Fir might be Oregon’s official tree, but the appropriately-named Maple Trail through Forest Park might make hikers think twice about that designation. Towering, bigleaf maple trees form a canopy over much of the trail, parts of which overlook the St. Johns Bridge and North Portland industrial area. (Head’s up: The Maple Trail is closed between Koenig Trail and Firelane 4 until 2017. Other sections of the trail remain open and accessible.)

Klamath Basin Brewing Company: Klamath Falls

Klamath Falls is home to the under-the-radar brews of Klamath Basin Brewing Company. Since 2005, the small outfit has brewed a number of beers that resonate far beyond the small Southern Oregon community. The smooth Backroad Vanilla Porter and the malty Crater Lake Amber are two can’t-miss pours.

Klamath Ridgeview Trail

There are few better ways to enjoy views of Klamath Lake than from along the Klamath Ridgeview Trail. The mellow, mostly-flat singletrack path takes hikers through fall colors every autumn and past eye-popping wildflowers every spring. Plus, you’ll enjoy impressive overlooks of the shallow, freshwater lake throughout your entire journey. 

Oakshire Brewing Company: Eugene

Less than a half-mile from the banks of the Willamette River in Eugene, Oakshire Brewing Company pours some of the city’s best beer. Oakshire’s smooth Overcast Espresso Stout is the brewery’s claim to fame, but a number of draft-only experimental beers also make the brewpub worth a stop after a day on the town’s trails.

Pre’s Trail

Named for University of Oregon track legend Steve Prefontaine, Pre’s Trail hosts hundreds of hikers and runners every day in Alton Baker Park near Autzen Stadium. The wide, well-maintained trail passes through scenic forests, hugs the edge of small ponds, and cuts through quiet grasslands. Trek the wood chip doubletrack in search of wildlife like frogs, foxes, and eagles.

Pre's Trail | Photo: Panoramio user act-ex

Pre’s Trail | Photo: Panoramio user act-ex

Spencer Butte

The much-loved Spencer Butte packs a lot of beauty into five miles. On a clear day, hikers who make this summit trek enjoy vistas of nearby Oregon Coast Range peaks, Cascade volcanoes, dense forests, and more. With a maximum grade of 34 percent, you’ll feel like you’ve earned a cold one by the time you reach the bottom.

This article is the first of our Trails and Ales column, where we highlight the best hikes by the best breweries near you.