This trail is close to Corvallis, features gravel forest roads and fast and smooth singletrack. The views from the top of Dimple Hill makes the climb to the top worth the sweat. Looking south over the Willamette Valley on a clear day you can see Mary's Peak, the Three Sisters, and Eugene.
The college forest is an off-leash area for dogs, as long as they are under voice command. This means that you're likely to meet a variety of dogs on the trail some with more or less training. If you're going to bring your pup, just be aware. There are typically printed maps at the trailhead if it's your first time on the trails be sure take a look.
Keep a look out for mountain bikers on the Horse and Dan's trails. On a busy weekend or even some weeknights, expect to see others on the trail. IF running at night be cougar aware, there are a couple of sightings a year here.
From the parking lot at the top of Lewisburg saddle, cross the road and begin on the forest road on the right after the gate. The Ridgeline Trail is on the right after a few hundred feet, this trail is steep and eventually connects back to the road (Patterson/600 Rd.) and the Alpha Trail. Jumping on the Ridgeline Trail adds a few tenths of a mile and a bit more climbing and descent. Continuing on Patterson Road you wind your way for about 1.75 miles gaining elevation but not too steep, this is a great warmup for the rest of the run.
After passing several other forest roads on the right (north), you come around a right-hand turn and the road flattens out a bit. There is a sign on the right and the Upper Horse Trail
dives off to the left and downhill immediately. Take this and enjoy running down the singletrack and through several switchbacks. The trail comes to a junction that often has a pile of gravel, continue on the singletrack the is overtop of an overgrown road grade.
If you want to head back to the trailhead, jump over to the road to the east (Rd. 610) and turn left for the saddle. Staying on the singletrack will continue to the south and downhill to a junction with Rd. 610. Cross the road and continue downhill. The forest after this junction is one of my favorite in western Oregon; run it and you'll know why. This section of trail is now the Lower Horse Trail
. Continue on this downhill until the trail breaks out into an open hillside and meadow.
This is an old orchard and there is a caretaker's cabin up the Jackson creek drainage. The trail T's into another gravel forest road (Jackson Creek Rd.), turn right run a short distance until another forest road leaves to the left, take this fork uphill for a short distance and cross a creek. There is a new trail that crosses the road, turn right on this trail (Lower Dan's Trail to the left and Middle Dan's
to the right). This new singletrack is mostly rolling hills for a bit and then crosses a creek on a wooden bridge after a sharp right turn, this bridge and be slick when wet.
After crossing the bridge, the trail heads uphill to a 4-way intersection. There is a new trail on the left, Upper Dan's
that cranks up to the top of Dimple hill, take this. Keep breathing, keep those arms pumping and remember there's no shame in going slowly.... ~1.5 miles to the top and ~800 ft of elevation gain and you'll pass a trail on the right, you're almost there!
Top out atop Dimple Hill and take in the view. This is a great spot to stop and chill out for a bit, even if you're just enjoying the view. When you're ready to keep running, you can either head north towards the very top of the hill and take a short, steep and muddy trail, Into the Wardrobe
, back to the road, or take the 650 Rd from the top to circle around the back of Dimple. Alternatively, you can turn around down the trail you just came up and take the spur on the left (sharp turn). No matter your choice you'll find yourself on a new forest road, 650 Road, take this downhill to another 4-way intersection, take the right turn on Patterson/600 Road downhill (if you take the left you can connect to the Oak Creek Parking area). Now that you're back on Patterson/600 Road, cruise downhill to the trailhead!
Douglas fir and poison oak..... You know, western Oregon.... But still very beautiful.