Paddle, Bike and Hike Your Way Through the Salem Area this Summer

By Kara Kuh

Summer is a fantastic time to road trip it to the Willamette Valley. The Valley’s lush scenery, sunshine and relatively low humidity also means it’s the perfect time to get out of your car once you’re here and explore the area via some simpler modes of transportation – including your own two feet!

Two men in red kayaks and a couple in a blue river raft ride the mini rapids


The Salem area’s many rivers, streams and lakes are perfect for canoeing, kayaking and rafting. If you’re looking for a family-friendly float, try the Buena Vista to Independence stretch of the Willamette River. For a bold water adventure, head to Mill City for a guided kayak or whitewater rafting experience on the Santiam River with eNRG Kayaking. In downtown Salem, stop in at Salem Summit Company and rent a standup paddleboard (SUP) or kayak. Drive the short distance to Wallace Marine Park and paddle the Willamette River. 


Mountain bikers will love the thrills, twists and turns at Black Rock Mountain Bike Area near Falls City. If you want to see beautiful vineyards and taste world-class wine, be sure to join Eola Hills Wine Cellar’s popular Bike Oregon Wine Country rides. Occurring every Sunday in August, these fully-supported rides include stops at area wineries, topped off by a salmon bake on the patio of Eola Hills’ tasting room. Road cyclists will also love the unique 6 Bridges Loop, which brings you to six different historic covered bridges on the 57-mile trek, which starts and ends in Stayton.  


If you want the ultimate Mid-Willamette Valley outdoor experience, sign up for the Salem River 2 Ridge Relay, taking place on Sunday, September 16. The one-day event includes a 6-mile kayak on the Willamette River, a 40-mile bike ride through beautiful vineyards and farmland and a 5.8-mile hike through the old growth forests of Silver Falls State Park. Participants are welcome to compete as individuals or as part of a two or three-person team. 

For more outdoor activities in the Salem area, visit