A walk along the South Breitenbush Gorge Trail is a fantastic way to get some fresh air with your pack near Idanha, Oregon. This dog-friendly path cuts through the Willamette National Forest, an old-growth forest bursting with centuries-old western hemlocks, western red cedars, and Douglas firs. The lush tree canopy shades the path and keeps furry trailblazers cool as they travel along the South Breitenbush River. This trail is somewhat of a hidden gem, so you don’t have to worry about crowds dimming the shine of your pup’s experience. Fallen trees and rocky slopes can be tricky to maneuver around, so make sure you wear proper foot attire and watch where you step. There aren’t any potable water sources along this route, so come prepared with a drinking bowl and plenty of water for you and your companion.
Parking for the trailhead is located where the old Breitenbush Guard Station once stood. Once on the road, you will walk a few hundred feet before you come to a gate that separates the National Forest from a private hot springs retreat -- you will need to take the path on the left. A boardwalk will guide you along the bank, making several switchbacks before bringing you to a set of bridges that traverse the North Fork Breitenbush River.
After you have crossed, you will follow the majestic South Breitenbush River through several groves of mature cedars, Douglas firs, and hemlocks. If you want to prolong your adventure, your pack can continue the hike to the Emerald Forest trail, on to Devils Ridge viewpoint, and then to Roaring Creek. You can achieve great views of the gorge by scuttling over some downed trees but use caution and watch your footing if you choose the scenic route -- the rocks can be slippery! You will need to bring poo bags for this excursion; remember to leave no trace of your visit and take only pictures! The trail is open from mid-March to mid-December and has many camping options.