, 2022-08-17 08:01:51,
My family moved to the Illinois Valley in Oregon’s southwest corner when I was just a few years old, where my conscious memories begin and my formative years flew by. Growing up in one of Oregon’s most lush and simultaneously rugged areas, the same valley where my mother spent her own childhood, I find myself often thinking about the river valleys and mountains of home no matter how far I travel today.
The perfect outdoor playground, the Illinois Valley has everything to offer in the realm of recreation, from hiking mountaintops to swimming in emerald pools and waterfalls or even stepping into the depths of a cave hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface. If you haven’t found your way to the magic hidden in Oregon’s southwest corner yet, I highly recommend it for folks of all ages.
For inspiration on your next outdoor itinerary, here are my top suggestions on can’t-miss destinations in the Illinois Valley. This journey ranges from Selma to just shy of the California state line and includes a variety of destinations from lush old growth forest hikes to caverns hidden beneath the earth’s surface and swimming holes that will make you swear off of public pools forever.
To start this list, I have to go with a longtime valley classic, Lake Selmac, just a few miles down Lakeshore Drive in Selma. While this freshwater lake wasn’t always the happening place to be, it’s been spruced up over the last few years and is now a delightful place to relax for the sunset or try and catch a record-breaking bass. Boating rentals, camping, an adorable (and well-stocked) country store and even a disc golf course are just a few of the recreation options at Lake Selmac.
Kerby Peak Trail
Albeit steep, the Kerby Peak Trail makes up for it’s difficulty with mind boggling panoramic views of the Illinois Valley, located just outside of Selma but more than 3,000 feet in elevation. Roughly 7 miles out and back, this trail is not to be taken lightly but promises sweeping views of wildflowers, ancient rock formations and just about everything else in the area.
Listen to the Explore Oregon PodcastSleep in a treehouse, explore marble caves in the Illinois Valley
OK, at the risk of breaking habit too quickly, my second stop isn’t technically an outdoor destination, but is worth the visit for any rockhound or lover of shiny things. Crystal Kaleidoscope is the largest rock shop in southern Oregon and has both an indoor and outdoor gallery to peruse…
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