June 29, 2012

Cottage Grove and the Covered Bridges Tour

Before we left the Eugene area, we decided to check out the historic district of Cottage Grove, a little town just south of Eugene, and the area's famous Covered Bridges Tour. Since we were headed that way, we also decided to add on a hike on the Brice Creek Trail, in the Umpqua National Forest.Oregon has turned out to be very dog friendly (as opposed to California, where dogs were not allowed in most parks, state and national), and we brought Chloe and Sammy along for the day.

We picked up a helpful brochure at the visitors center in Eugene about the Covered Bridges in Lane County.   Between 1905 and 1925, the state of Oregon had an estimated 450 covered bridges. By 1977 there were only 56 left, and Lane County has 20 of them, which makes it the county with the most covered bridges west of the Mississippi. The city of Cottage Grove has the majority of the bridges in Lane County, hence, the Covered Bridges Tour. The county used to have a lot of wooden covered bridges because timber was readily available in the area, and it was cheaper than building the standard steel and concrete bridge. To protect the wooden bridges from the rainy climate, wooden "houses" or tunnels were built on top, creating the covered bridge.

Mosby Creek Bridge
There are four covered bridges east of interstate 5, on a scenic loop around Dorena Lake, and three more bridges are in Cottage Grove proper. You can drive through two of the bridges still, but the other five are pedestrian traffic only. We decided to drive the rural loop first. 

Stewart Bridge
Dorena Bridge
We drove by the first three bridges, and then took the turn off on Brice Creek Rd, to the Cedar Creek Campground. There is a trail head for the Brice Creek Trail in the campground, just across the pedestrian bridge.

Brice Creek trail head in Cedar Creek Campground
We hiked 5 miles round trip and it was a very nice hike. Because of all the rain in the area, everything is super green and moist. There are huge ferns everywhere, and moss covers every surface. You hike along bubbling Brice Creek the whole trail. There are numerous waterfalls, and cute bridges to cross. Chloe and Sammy had an awesome time running around in the forest and swimming in the creek.

Brice Creek
Hiking around Brice Creek
After the hike we continued our Covered Bridges Tour, and drove by the last rural covered bridge on the tour, the Currin Bridge. 

Currin Bridge
Then we found a parking spot in the historic district of Cottage Grove and walked the length of their downtown. There is an abundance of colorful murals scattered about town, some depicting historic images of the town, and some vintage product advertisements. We also walked by the last three covered bridges of the tour. One of them is actually not a covered bridge per se, its a suspension bridge, and its called the Swinging Bridge. I'm not really sure why it was included on the route, but hey, it was on the way, so we stopped by.

Historic Cottage Grove downtown
Centennial Bridge
Swinging Bridge
The last bridge we saw was the Chambers Bridge, which was the only covered railroad bridge west of the Mississippi. The bridge was recently renovated and now looks brand new.

Chambers Bridge
We were pretty worn out after the hike and the bridge touring after that. We headed home and called it a successful day.

To see more pictures of the tour and town, click here.

Happy Bridge Touring,


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