Outdoor Recreation in Corvallis: Corvallis to Sea Trail
Corvallis offers ample opportunities to enjoy hiking, biking, paddling, golfing, boating, and other recreational activities. There are plenty of things to do near Corvallis, Oregon including hiking or biking the new Corvallis to Sea Trail linking the Willamette Valley to the Oregon Coast.
Even if you are not interested in committing to the whole journey, many portions of the Corvallis to Sea Trail are also suitable for a casual day hike, bike ride, or other outdoor activities.
We spoke with a couple of local outdoor enthusiasts who shared their insights into how to best enjoy these recreational opportunities. We spoke with Jim Blount who is the General Manager of Peak Sports and Gary Chapman who is the President of the board for the Corvallis to Sea Trail Partnership.
What is the Corvallis to Sea Trail?
The Corvallis to Sea Trail is a 62-mile network of hiking and biking trails starting in Corvallis and ending at Ona Beach State Park near Newport, Oregon. Locals refer to it as the C2C Trail.
Since the C2C trail is really a network of interconnected trails, some of these individual trails are accessible to trail runners, hikers, or bikers who want to enjoy a day or morning outdoors.
However, experiencing the entire C2C trail often requires an overnight commitment. Willamette Week suggested serious hikers might want to make a C2C journey as training for a more ambitious Pacific Crest Trail voyage.
“Corvallis is located on the edge of Oregon’s Coast Range with year-round access to hiking, mountain biking, gravel biking, and paddling,” Jim explained.
Jim is the General manager of the popular Corvallis outdoor store Peak Sports. Peak Sports is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the Willamette Valley who enjoy mountain biking, paddling, climbing, or any other outdoor activity.
He told us: “I love any activity that gets me and my dog outside, especially biking and paddling in the forests and rivers in the Coast Range!”
Jim cycled the Corvallis to Sea bike path and camped several times with his dog, Charlie. For more information about visiting Corvallis with your pet, visit our guide on the topic.
“There are quite a few spots along the way where you can just get a very expansive view of the coast range,” said Jim. “It goes up around Mary’s Peak which is the highest point of the coast range.”
From Corvallis to Ona Beach State Park, Newport
The journey from Corvallis to Newport is scenic thanks to the Oregon Coast Range and thriving forested areas. The mild climate makes many parts of the trail accessible for most of the year as long as you check conditions before you go.
“One of my all-time favorite adventures is biking the C2C trail. It ticks a lot of boxes: history, solitude, mushroom-hunting, rivers, forests,” said Jim. “And it all ends at the beach – what more could you ask for?”
“It’s a really awesome trail. It’s pretty unique because it connects the Willamette Valley to the coast range,” he previously told KOIN AM. “It passes through what was originally inhabited by Calapooya, Alsea and the Yaquina tribes. There’s just so much unique scenery and history along the route. One of the coolest things about it is it was entirely built by volunteers!”
The Recreational Community Dreamed of Connecting the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Ocean
Although it opened in 2021, the idea originated as early as the 1970s. Previously volunteers and staff from various state agencies and Oregon State University worked on creating a network of trails that would eventually connect the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast.
Over time this project fizzled out until 2003 when a group of volunteers formed the “Corvallis to Sea Partnership.” These volunteers spent over 50,000 hours constructing trails and connecting the existing patchwork of trails together.
Gary Chapman, president of the board for the Corvallis-to-the-Sea Trail Partnership, told us the trail has been well-received since its opening. Last June they installed kiosks and trail registers and officially opened the trail on August 21. Over 500 hikers and 250 bicyclists registered during the first seven months.
“Of these, about one third of each did the whole trail, the others merely sections,” Gary said. “That all totaled about 1500 hiker days and 750 bicyclist days.”
Like other members of the Corvallis-to-the-Sea Partnership, Gary is a volunteer. He got involved around 18 years ago: “It was a worthy goal… I knew the area somewhat having lived in Corvallis all my life, commuting to Newport for ten years, being in Boy Scouts and hiking around Marys Peak and Drift Creek.”
Depending on how fast you hike, you may complete the entire C2C hike in anywhere from two to six days, according to Gary. The norm is three to five days. Bike riders usually complete the entire trail in one or two days.
“It’s just about two half days of riding so it’s pretty easy to do it overnight,” Jim commented.
Tips For Enjoying the Corvallis to Sea Trail and the Oregon Coast Range
Study the Trail
Jim recommended that you start with a good map of the C2C Trail. “Although the C2C Trail is very well-signed, the Coast Range has numerous logging roads and intersections that make it easy to get turned around.”
Maps are for sale at several sporting goods stores in the Willamette Valley and Oregon Coast. People may also order a printed map directly from the nonprofit Corvallis to Sea Partnership. Check their website for the current listing of locations where you may purchase a map.
As a local community member and volunteer for the Corvallis to Sea Partnership, Gary also had a few tips. His biggest suggestion is to thoroughly read the information on the C2C website that was compiled to help people plan their journey. In addition, he suggested trying individual sections as a day trip first.
According to All Trails, some prefer to start at the coast and end up in Corvallis, while most prefer to start in Corvallis.
Complete a Small Section First
“Consider doing section hikes to gauge the quality and difficulty of the experience,” Gary explained. “For bicyclists, it is possible to drive about 80% of the bike route, so that gives a great idea of the potential experience. Hikers especially need to know where to camp and not camp (camping on Forest Service lands only) and where the watering locations are. Both of these are shown on the map.”
Leave No Trace
The Corvallis to Sea Trail also asks that users avoid leaving any trace they were there other than their footprints. This is for users’ safety as food and other waste may attract wild animals and is to protect the existing ecosystem.
Plan for Quality Relaxation Before or After the Trail
Our top recommendation is to book a guest house for a couple of days before or after your C2C excursion. This gives you an opportunity to get some much-needed R & R and explore the Corvallis area. Our guest houses are privately owned homes in real residential neighborhoods. We require a two-night stay due to the extensive housekeeping.
Shuttle Bus Transportation Back to Corvallis
Finally, Visit Corvallis recommends using the NW Connector shuttle bus to get back to Corvallis after your hike. They run four trips daily between Corvallis and Newport.
Required Permits and Safety Information for Corvallis to Sea Trails
Travel in groups of two or more for safety as well as companionship.
If you want to hike or bike the Old Peak Road section, you need a permit from Starker Forests. They issue the free annual permit but are not a source of C2C trail information. The Old Peak Road is just west of Philomath.
Those hiking the trail will need to camp. Overnight camping is only allowed on Forest Service land. The Big Elk Campground is located at a mid-point. Plan your camp stops in advance to ensure they are open and that you have the required permits.
Some parts of rural Oregon are without reliable cell phone coverage or in some cases any cell phone coverage at all. Jim Blount suggested that outdoor enthusiasts consider renting or buying a satellite communication device before venturing out into these areas.
Be aware that the forests are home to wildlife including black bears and cougars. While these animals usually avoid contact with humans, it is important to educate yourself about safety strategies. The National Parks Service issued guides to safety around bears as well as safety around cougars. One reason C2C asks users to follow PLANT guidelines (Please leave no trace) is to avoid attracting or disturbing wildlife.
Many of these tips apply to other activities in forested areas in addition to the Corvallis to Sea Trail.
Other Corvallis Outdoor Recreation Opportunities
You may hike or bike many of the trails in the Corvallis to Sea trail network without committing to the whole journey. In addition, there is a range of other activities ranging from golfing, paddling, and more.
For inspiration for other Corvallis Oregon hikes and local cycling check out our previous guides on these topics. Mary’s Peak, which is part of Siuslaw National Forest, is an easy drive from Corvallis and offers spectacular views as well as walking, trail running, hiking, and mountain biking opportunities.
Also, Peak Sports runs an outdoor Adventure Program. Jim explained: “We want to help everyone get outside – whether you’re new to the outdoors or looking to expand your adventure horizons! Check out our current offerings and join our email list to learn about classes, guided trips, and in-store events.”
Where to Stay When Enjoying Corvallis Recreational Activities
We hope that Fernwood Circle Guest Houses will be your home away from home whether you visit Corvallis to hike the C2C trail, to visit Oregon State University, or to see family. Each guest house is an individual home in a real residential neighborhood.
When you stay with us you support small businesses and the Corvallis-area economy. You enjoy the best amenities of a bed and breakfast including a self-serve continental breakfast, high-speed wifi, and guest golfing privileges at The Corvallis Club.
You also enjoy the privacy of being in a stand-alone furnished short-term rental with comfortable living spaces and outdoor spaces like a patio or backyard.