Oregon is an amazing state with plenty of off-road Jeep trails to explore. There are dozens of off-road trails to take your Jeep on. Some of the best are preserved in national or state-owned areas, while others can be found winding through forests and streams.
I’ve been exploring off-road trails throughout Oregon since I was about 14 years old. My family owned a CJ5, and we would take it camping every chance we got.
*WARNING: Before you go out on any trails, please read through my list of essentials here. I could save your life!
For this article, I wanted to highlight 9 of my favorite off-road trails in Oregon that are great for someone with any level of experience. These trails will be good for both stock and modified Jeeps.
My Favorite Off-Road Jeep Trails in Oregon:
- Bernett Pass Off-Road Trail
- Badger Lake Road
- Bates OHV Trail
- Bonney Butte OHV Area
- Bug Off-Road Trail
- Tygh Valley Road and Clark Mill Road
- Cedar Tree Tillamook State Forest
- Ample and Alluring
- Barlow Off-Road Trail
The Best Off-Road Trails to Take Your Jeep in Oregon
Below, I’ve included some critical information about each trail, such as the level of difficulty, length, and what you can expect to see.
1. Bernett Pass Off-Road Trail
Bennett Pass Road winds its way through the very best that Mount Hood National Forest has to offer. Presenting stunning views of the Oregon country, Bennett Pass Road passes through dense alpine forests where wildflowers bloom during the summer season – the best time to visit this pristine landscape.
During summertime, there is the privilege of enjoying the company of large swarms of butterflies that circle overhead as you drive your vehicle on the pass. Butterflies, flowers, and alpine forests make for a truly magical fairy tale experience.
When visibility is great, you can catch sight of Mount Adams and Mount Hood in the north. Three Sisters are also visible, and you might even get a glimpse of the majestic Diamond Peak. There is so much to see. Visibility extends as far as the Oregon Outback since the unbroken view allows you to see for miles around.
Driving difficulty is not too high either, so you will have a fairly relaxed time as you soak up the magic that pervades Bennett Pass Road.
2. Badger Lake Road
Badger Lake Road makes its way through the Badger Creek Wilderness. This is a forest region with tall, evergreen trees. After you get around Badger Butte, you embark on a narrow trail and will find yourself coming down a rocky road in the direction of the lake.
You can enjoy a great view of the ridgeline across the basin. Under Flag Point Lookout, you will find palisades at a distance. As you make your way through a water crossing, you will find Badger Lake, a picturesque scenic destination where you can enjoy swimming, fishing, and canoeing. You can simply chill and enjoy the serene mountain air together with the soothing vistas of the green mountainous terrain.
This place is as good as it gets for a wonderful picnic. So if you fancy a great picnic spot at the end of your off-road drive, then Badger Lake Road will take you there.
3. Bates OHV Trail
Bates Road is a challenging off-road trail that is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. While you can enjoy the spectacular sight of the Oregon Coast Range, you will also have to navigate through challenging obstacles that can inflict serious vehicle damage if you are not cautious. The road becomes narrow at several points so you have to watch out.
To the east and north, you can catch sight of forest land graced with timber and clear-cuts.
You will have to make your way down steep, slippery slopes, which are tricky, to say the least. You should not venture here unless you are skilled and looking for a real challenge.
4. Bonney Butte OHV Area
On a crystal clear day, you can catch sight of Mount Jefferson as well as the Three Sisters towards the south from the Bonney Butte Road. You can also get a glimpse of Mount Hood towering towards the northwest.
At about a mile long, Bonney Butte Road is not the longest by any means. However, it packs in great panoramas, a fun ride, and several amenities along the route, including restrooms.
From mid-August to the first of November, motor vehicles are not allowed entry into Bonney Butte. The road is closed off to traffic for the protection of raptors.
But even during this time, you might want to take a hike to enjoy the breathtaking views and also to watch HawkWatch International workers in action as they catch hold of raptors and tag them. So there is lots of fascinating wildlife to behold for the avid naturalist.
It’s safe to say that it won’t be very long before you want to come back again for the views and the wildlife.
5. Bug Off-Road Trail
Depending on the season, Bug Road can be a very different affair for trailblazers.
In the dry season, traversing the trail is an easy task. You can easily take Bug Road from NF-48 (also called Barlow Road) for an easy and relaxed ride.
During the wet season, it is an entirely different story. The landscape becomes a morass of mud and watery holes, which stock vehicles will have a tough time negotiating. You will need the right Jeep and, equally importantly, an indomitable trailblazer to get past this muddy mess.
Make sure that your vehicle is ready for the challenges that lie in wait if you are confident enough to take on Bug Road in the wet season. Sealed electrical systems, relocated air intakes and other such adjustments are necessary before venturing into this wet and muddy place.
The trail goes through scrub oak and pine forest. Grasslands are also visible in the distance. Overall, it is a very lush green place.
The place is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts and hunters. Hunters descend into the area for elk and deer. Bird watchers can enter the White River Wildlife Refuge via Bug Road to capture images of rare birds.
The end of the trail is embellished with lush green grass during the spring that sways alluringly in the gentle breeze. In the autumn season, the landscape is carpeted with oak leaves that have the most vibrant orange and red hues.
6. Tygh Valley Road and Clark Mill Road
The Tygh Valley and Clark Mill trail start at the old 2-room school near Friend, Oregon where you can see hay and wheat fields for miles around.
Mount Hood is visible on the horizon towards the west. This is the source from where water trickles down into the fertile fields that yield wheat and hay.
The trail will take you through grassland and oak fields and give you fascinating perspectives on Central Oregon. You will then descend down the trail into a canyon where Jordan Creek passes.
At Waypoint 5, you will be greeted with a water cascade where an old mill was once present. The trail will take you further down this point, deeper into the canyon. You will then come across Tygh Creek and Jordan Creek. It won’t be long before you discover farm fields surrounded by old gnarled cottonwood trees. You will have to make it past a shallow stream crossing before reaching Waypoint 6, which marks the end of this fascinating trail. This place is just outside Tygh Valley.
7. Cedar Tree Tillamook State Forest
The trail is distinguished by a fallen cedar tree that blocks the way. You can drive your vehicle under it to get past. This is the time-honored tradition of thrill-seekers here, mind you. There is a hole underneath the fallen cedar tree so that your vehicle can clear the obstruction without hitting the fallen tree. Of course, if there isn’t enough space, you can always drive around it. Before attempting the feat, be sure to assess whether there is room for your vehicle to get under it. This iconic site is Waypoint 7.
As you move along the trail, you will roam the enchanted forest fraught with obstacles that will challenge the most ardent adventurer. There are a number of big holes filled with holes that you will have to contend with. Unsuspecting drivers can get caught up in the shelf obscured by an old tree stump.
Be wary of protruding tree roots that can damage the suspension if you are careless.
Stock vehicles can get through the tough trail. Make sure that you are watchful and careful while driving to navigate impediments along the trail. Overall, it is a challenging trail meant for experienced seasoned trailblazers who want to test their driving flair and vehicle.
You will also want to roam Tillamook State Forest to enjoy nature at its finest.
8. Ample and Alluring
An odd name for a trail, no doubt. However, the Ample and Alluring trail lives up to its name since it takes off-road enthusiasts through a surreal ancient forest packed with trees, dripping moss, and ferns.
But as with most alluring things, this trail has potential danger.
Be careful while driving since there is a big steep drop towards the right side of the trail from where your vehicle can go down, tumbling if it falls off. The trail is narrow but there is enough room to get through while keeping a thin distance from the dangerous edge.
The trail will take you through the dense forest up into the mountain. You can then come out of the woods and then go along the path leading to Tillamook State Forest.
9. Barlow Off-Road Trail
Barlow Trail starts from the oak fields and prairies in Central Oregon. It will lead you into an ancient Ponderosa Pine forest. Before reaching Barlow Pass, you will see plenty of other trees as well – Western Larch, Douglas Firs, alders, fir, and perhaps aspens.
This trail has a long history and a special place in Oregon lore since this is the path that pioneers took to cross into the region.
There are so many places in Oregon to take your Jeep off-road. The state has a wide range of climates and terrain, making it an ideal destination for off-roading.
All of the trails I’ve listed above are excellent options, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens more trails throughout the state that are just waiting to be explored.
So get out there and explore Oregon’s off-road trails! You won’t regret it.