Less than an hour east of Eugene in Oregon's Coast Range, the Old Growth Ridge Trail in Whittaker Creek Recreation Area is a short but satisfying hike through lush forest rich in both flora and fauna. Fido and Fifi will enjoy the giant Douglas firs preserved here and views of the Siuslaw River peeking through the trees.
The trailhead is located in the heart of the Bureau of Land Management's Whittaker Creek Campground across from site #22. Because it is so close to campers, please respect your neighbors and get off to a quiet start if you're departing in the early morning. The campground and day use area are open Memorial Day through Labor Day each year, and the vault toilets and hand-pumped drinking water at the campground make for a comfortable journey. If you'd like to extend your stay, the campground welcomes leashed dogs.
Park near the main gate and cross a footbridge over the creek. The pump house will be on your right if you need to fill up water bottles, and the toilets will be directly ahead. Veer left to reach the trailhead and set out on your adventure. Note that you'll soon reach a junction with the Armantrout Loop Trail, which drops down to the creekside and travels along boardwalks before climbing back up to rejoin the Old Growth Trail at the Alder Fern Junction below the summit. If you add the loop to either your outbound or return journey, expect an additional half-mile of walking and some outstanding scenery.
The Old Growth Ridge Trail climbs uphill, following switchbacks up the ridge and along the crest to a Siuslaw River Overlook and the Whittaker Ridge summit. Although tree cover limits your views from the high ground, your pups will enjoy the accomplishment and exercise (as well as the easy downhill return trip). In addition to firs, you'll see alder, hemlock, and maple trees in the high canopy plus rhododendron, fern, and salal in the understory. The birds and small mammals that nest in these woodlands will give your pups some excitement along the way.