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Guest Author | 05/26/2022 | Biking, Bird Watching, Hiking, Nature Walks/Trails, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife

Everyone Can Enjoy Iconic Marys Peak

It looms higher than any other peak along Oregon’s Coast Range. It’s a visible icon throughout Corvallis or the Mid-Willamette Valley.

It’s Marys Peak, an accessible destination for anyone looking to enjoy some time outdoors and fantastic views of the valley, the Pacific Ocean and, on a clear day, the snow-capped mountains in the Cascades Range.

This is a popular destination no matter the season. Many people drive up to see late spring and summer wildflowers. Others look forward to Nordic skiing, snowshoeing or snowball fights in winter. Hikers explore the mountain’s dense forest of Douglas fir trees all year, rain or shine. And, while it may surprise some, hill-hungry cyclists ride up the winding road in search of a challenge.

Getting to the base of the mountain is easy. Take Highway 34 from Corvallis for 15 miles. Getting to the top is as simple as turning right on Marys Peak Road and driving another 10 paved miles to the parking lot at the top. Look to the west and see the Pacific Ocean 4,097 feet below you. Imagine what a sunset looks like from here.

Be advised that this is the Day Use Area managed by the U.S. Forest Service so there is a $5-per-vehicle fee. A valid federal recreation pass also works here.

While people go to Marys Peak for outdoor activity, sometimes the best decision is to do nothing at all. This is a great place to sit, think, look at the vistas and listen to nature. Enjoy an outdoor lunch. There are picnic tables at the Day Use Area, Marys Peak Campground, the East Ridge trailhead and the Conner’s Camp Day Use Area near Highway 34.

(Photo: A cyclist pauses for a rest on Marys Peak.)

When not gazing into the distance, consider going for a forest stroll. Three trails wind between lower trail heads and the Day Use Area. The Summit Loop trail, for example, starts at the parking lot and leads down to forest and meadows where hikers can see wide-open views of the valley, the ocean and the trees above. The 1.5-mile walk ends with 500 feet of uphill trail back to the car.

There are several other trail choices with varying degrees of difficulty. The Meadowedge Trail is an easy open; a 1.6-mile loop walk from Marys Peak Campground that shows off meadows, forest and views of the Coast Range. The East Ridge Trail is 2.6 miles and requires uphill effort.

Then there’s the North Ridge Trail, a remote trail that extends 4.4 miles one way between the Woods Creek trailhead and the day use parking lot. Add another half mile or so to the very top and it becomes a 10-mile round trip with nearly 2,500 feet of climbing. Forest Service officials call this a challenging trail with a steep descent. That will work up a sweat. This also is a popular mountain bike route so watch out for riders.

Download the trail guide in PDF format here.

While cyclists regularly ride from the highway to the top parking lot, it is not for everyone. Experienced cyclists who complete the task have bragging rights with friends. The inexperienced should leave their bikes at home.

Read more about biking up the Marys Peak climb right here.

More spots for hiking, biking and trail running:  East Ridge Trail | North Ridge Trail | Tie Trail | Summit Loop Trail | Meadow Edge Trail.

Photo: A man raises his bike over his head after finishing a long bike ride up Marys Peak, by Dan Shryock.

The Mary's Peak Campground is just 19 miles west of Corvallis and just shy of 9 miles up Mary's Peak. The campground opens mid-May until around the middle of September. Six spots can handle an RV of up to 18 feet in length. Trailers are not advised here, however, as the windy roads makes getting there difficult. The spots are first-come first-served, so it's best to get up there earlier to give you the best shot at grabbing a space. You can learn more from the Siuslaw National Forest website or by calling 541-750-7000.

For complete information about Marys Peak and things to do on the mountain, visit the Forest Service website.

Article by Dan Shryock. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happening by signing up for our email newsletter.

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