North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River


The North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River was designated as a wild and scenic river in 1988. Water quality is one of the most outstanding attributes of the North Fork, as its source, Waldo Lake, is regarded by some experts as one of the purest in the world.

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Designated Reach

October 28, 1988. From Waldo Lake to the Willamette National Forest boundary.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values


The North Fork is one of the few rivers in western Oregon managed for wild trout by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Native wild trout populations include rainbow and cutthroat.


A two-million-year-old history of vulcanism and three glacial advances provide an outstanding backdrop for study and interpretation. The river cuts through two distinct geologic periods, the High Cascade, from 6,000 to 1 million years ago, and the Western Cascade, from 15 million to 25 million years ago.


The North Fork played a critical role in the logging history of the area and the development of the town of Westfir.


The river corridor offers a diversity of recreation settings, ranging from developed campgrounds to wilderness. The clarity and vivid blue-green color of the river attracts kayakers, hikers, anglers, scenic viewers, and swimmers. The river is managed for wild trout and as a high-quality, flyfishing-only opportunity. Aufderheide Drive, designated as one of the original 50 of the National Forest Scenic Byways, and the southernmost portion of the West Cascades National Scenic Byway parallel the river for some 30 miles, offering access and views of the river to byway travelers and bicyclists.


The designated river corridor contains a wide variety of landforms and vegetation, including a steep glaciated valley and 34 waterfalls within a three-mile stretch. The vegetation along the river is diverse, because its elevation ranges from 1100 to 5400 feet and the diversity of landforms range from marshy bogs to dry rock gardens.


Roosevelt elk herds, blacktail deer, black bears, cougars, northern spotted owls, and bald eagles are residents here.

Managing Partners And Contacts


Recreational Scenic Wild
Recreational — 27 miles; Scenic — 6.5 miles; Wild — 8.8 miles; Total — 42.3 miles.
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