Bureau of Land Management National Park Service U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Forest Service

Willamette River (N. Fork of the Mid. Fork), Oregon

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Managing Agency:

U.S. Forest Service, Willamette National Forest


Designated Reach:

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


Classification/Mileage:

Wild — 8.8 miles; Scenic — 6.5 miles; Recreational — 27.0 miles; Total — 42.3 miles.

North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River

Photo Credit: Unknown

Willamette River (North Fork of the Middle Fork)

The North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River was designated as a wild and scenic river in 1988. Outstandingly remarkable values for the river include recreation, vegetation, scenic, water quality, fish, wildlife, geologic/hydrologic and historic.

The river corridor offers a diversity of recreation settings ranging from developed campgrounds to wilderness. 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 North Fork is one of the few rivers in western Oregon managed for wild trout—fly fishing only—by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The vegetation along the river is diverse, because of its elevation range from 1100 to 5400 feet and diversity of landforms from marshy bogs to dry rock gardens.

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. Roosevelt elk herds use the river corridor through the year, as do blacktail deer, black bear and cougar. 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.