Hikers looking for a refreshing escape from the summer heat should explore this 7.4-mile out-and-back along the Little North Santiam River. Roughly an hour from Salem, the riverside hike tours a natural water park with deep emerald pools linked by chutes, cascades, and waterfalls. From the trailhead near Elkhorn, follow Little North Santiam Trail along the river, passing several spurs to rocky beaches and cascading waterfalls. Less than half a mile in, the trail bears right and climbs steadily away from the river to a vantage point overlooking the gorge, Henline Mountain, and Triple Falls.
From here, the route descends back to the river and passes a roomy campsite with access to a secluded beach. After 2.5 miles, the trail travels past the Three Pools area, a popular swimming hole marked by a rock pinnacle and a series of chutes and pools. (For more solitude, continue 1,000 feet to a quiet, pebbly beach east of Three Pools.) At mile 3.7, the trail meets Forest Road 2207 and a small parking area (good place to park a shuttle car). Turn around and follow the same route back to the trailhead.
INFO: Little North Santiam Trail #3338
-Mapped by Eli Boschetto, Bosco Mountain Photo