Champoeg Heritage Area

Willamette River at Champoeg

Easy (around townsite)

3.2-mile loop

No elevation gain

Open all year

Use: hikers, bicycles

Moderate (to Butteville)

8.4-mile loop

No elevation gain

In 1843, when the Oregon Country didn’t officially belong to any one nation, pioneers met at Champoeg, the earliest white settlement on the Willamette River, to discuss setting up a provisional government. At first it seemed the 100 white men at the meeting might reject the idea of government altogether. British traders and French-Canadian trappers feared the new American settlers would take control. When a line was drawn in the sand and sides were taken, the vote stood deadlocked, 50 to 50. Then a pair of French-Canadians threw in their lot with the Americans and Oregon has belonged to the US ever since.

Floods in 1861 and 1890 erased the old town of Champoeg. Today this scenic stretch of riverbank is a state heritage area with museums, monuments, picnic areas, and trails. A 3.2-mile hiking loop visits the most important sites, but it’s tempting to extend the loop to 8.4 miles by hiking a paved path to the quaint old town of Butteville. For bicyclists, this paved path is the only option.

Drive Interstate 5 south …

Champoeg barn

Barn at Champoeg