Visitor Information


The best adventures begin long before you get to the trailhead. Knowing where you’re going, having everything you need, and staying up to date with any closures or forest operations is essential to staying safe and having a great time on the Research Forests.  Remember, trailheads have limited parking - learn more about what you can do here!  

Plan Ahead and Prepare

 Forest Rules

While enjoying the OSU Research Forests, please abide by these simple rules:

  • Motor vehicle access on Forest roads is by authorized vehicles only.
  • No motorized vehicle use is allowed on the forest, NO electric bicycles, hoverboards, one-wheels, or any battery powered motor device* 
    • *In compliance with the ADA act, a person can ride an e-bike IF they have a disability and need an other power-driven mobility device  (i.e., something other than a wheelchair). That individual needs to carry their government issued disability parking permit,  or something similar (see examples here) while they ride in the Forest. 
  • The Forests are closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • For your safety, follow all posted trail and road closures. This is a working forest with an active forest management program.
  • Parking is limited, so if you plan to meet a group at the trailhead, carpool from a central location instead.  
  • Travel with caution on Forest roads. Logging trucks, authorized vehicles, and other visitors all share the same roads. Vehicles have right-of-way.
  • No weapons per OSU policy.  Target shooting is not allowed.  Hunting, with permission, is allowed only on the Dunn Forest. 
  • Protect research and teaching activities by leaving sites and flagging undisturbed and by traveling only on authorized roads and trails.
  • No smoking, fireworks, campfires, barbecues, or open flame.
  • No camping, swimming, fishing, firewood cutting, or consumption of marijuana or alcohol.
  • Control pets using voice command or leash. Clean up and carry out pet waste
  • No creating or maintaining unauthorized trails
  • Use of UAS/drones for recreation follows OSU's Interim Policy
  • No nudity allowed on the OSU Research Forests
  • No unauthorized collection of forest products, including but not limited to mushrooms, salal, nettles, fern, etc. 

The Research Forest encourages all visitors to minimize their impact and follow Leave No Trace Principles.

Trail and Road Safety Closures

These Forests are actively managed for timber and other resources. Harvest areas are extremely dangerous for visitors and harvest crews, with hazards from falling trees and large equipment. Please observe area, trail, and road closures. Information about forest closures is located at key access points and posted on our webpage, and closures are clearly marked on-site. Travel with caution on forest roads, and yield to administrative traffic and log trucks. Learn more about current closures or sign up to receive e-mail updates.

Parking is Limited...

Forest use has been growing (48% increase in number of visitors and number of visits between 2009 and 2017!), and is expected to continue to do so into the future. During busy times, community enthusiasm for the outdoors sometimes shows itself as parking congestion at trailhead access points, especially at Oak Creek and Lewisburg Saddle. Our ability to provide more parking is limited by several factors, and the Forest will never be able to provide enough parking space for all of the demand we expect to see in the future. 

We need your help in setting a cultural standard for getting visitors to trailheads with fewer vehicles to protect free and open access to the Forests into the future. Your active participation counts. You have the ability to manage your own use in a way that promotes positive relationships with other users and community members, and promotes access for all groups.  Learn what you can do here!  

Research and Education

Researchers and educators from the College of Forestry, other colleges within OSU, agencies, non-profits and local schools use the OSU Research Forests for a living laboratory and classroom. Students receive hands on experience in everything from taking forest measurements to studying aquatic plants and wildlife. For more information about the research program on the Forests, click here.

When visiting the Forest, you may come across closure areas, interpretive signs, and flagging or other markers identifying research and classroom areas.

  • Please stay on authorized roads and trails to avoid impacting research and teaching sites.
  • Be courteous if you come across a class in session or research underway, and go around quietly.
  • Watch for vans and other administrative traffic while traveling on forest roads.
  • Leave any ribbons, placards, pin flags, or other markings where you find them in the forest. If you have any questions regarding something you found on the forest, contact us!

Dogs on the OSU Research Forests

A survey published in 2018 showed that 44% of our visitors bring dogs to the forest, and we love all of the cute, fun pups out there on the trails. Our vision is for our trails to look and smell beautiful, and be safe and fun places for pets and humans to enjoy the natural world. Our hopes are that visitors who bring dogs out onto the forest will consider their own dogs as the role models for responsible on and off-leash behavior and will hold themselves to a high standard in picking up their pets' waste.

Dogs on the OSU Research Forests are required to be under voice control or on a leash. Owners are responsible for picking up after their pets and disposing of waste in the bins provided. For more information visit our trail etiquette page.

Wildlife Safety

Cougar Facts

Guidelines for Living with Cougars

Cougar sightings have become increasingly common in local natural areas, especially on the trails and roads near creeks and ridges. As cougar habitat shrinks, the number of encounters with people have increased. Cougars have proven to be very adaptable and may live in close proximity to people. A cougar is identified by its large size, cat-like appearance, consistent tan or tawny body color, and long tail.

Hiking Tips: 

  • Be cautious. Cougars are most active from an hour before sunset to an hour after sunrise.
  • MAKE NOISE while hiking to reduce the chance of surprising a cougar.
  • Avoid walking alone.
  • Dogs can attract cougars. Keep your dogs close and consider keeping them on-leash.
  • If you see a kitten, try to move away from it. The mother is most likely near by.

Encounter Tips:

  • Cougars will often retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.
  • STAY CALM and stand your ground. Maintain direct eye contact. Raise your voice and speak firmly. Back away slowly.
  • Pick up children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the cougar.
  • DO NOT RUN. Running triggers a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.
  • If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.
  • If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any items available.

Most cougar sightings are only recorded and signed, other actions are only taken if animal shows aggressive behavior.

Report any cougar sighting or encounter to a local Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) (541) 757-4186 or OSU Research Forests.   

Group Use/Special Uses

The OSU Research Forests is open to the public for access. Community groups are welcome to use the OSU Research Forests for their activities without a permit, as long as:

  • All members of the group follow the OSU Research Forests Guidelines in full
  • Group size and activity of choice does not interfere with other forest visitors’ ability to use and enjoy the site
  • The event is low profile and fits with the forested setting (meaning no catering services, generators, sound systems, delivery of porta-potties, etc.)

Community organizations or agencies must apply for a permit when planning an event which is not consistent with OSU Research Forests Guidelines (occurs at night, requires vehicle access onto the forest, etc.) or is large enough in scope to interfere with other forest visitors’ use and enjoyment of the site. Oregon State University events do not go through the same permitting process, though they are required to contact the OSU Research Forests when planning an event that is not consistent with the criteria above for review and approval.

Special use request inquiries can be directed to Jenna Baker at or by calling 541-737-6702. 

New permits are not currently being granted for events such as races that are large in scope. Smaller events are evaluated to determine if they fit with the goals of the OSU Research Forests. Permits are either granted, denied, or changes are requested. Organizations applying for permits are required to carry a general liability insurance policy. 

Lost and Found

A small collection of lost and found items is kept at the OSU Research Forests Business Office at Peavy Arboretum. Please turn in or inquire about lost items here.

Geocaching on the Forest

Anyone interested in placing a geocache must fill out this form to obtain approval for their cache. Please email the completed form to the Recreation and Engagement Manager,

Caches Must be approved of in advance before they are placed on the forest. OSU Research Forests reserves the right to remove Geocaches that are found to in any way adversely affect the OSU Forest mission and goals, or any forest resource.