Kings Valley

Beazell Memorial Forest

  • Easy (2 short loop hikes)
  • 2.4 miles round trip
  • 440 feet elevation gain

  • Moderate (2 longer loops)
  • 4.8 miles round trip
  • 1100 feet elevation gain

Two Benton County parks northwest of Corvallis showcase the history of Kings Valley. Inspect the site of a Civil War-era Army fort, visit two pioneer homestead farmhouses, or stroll alongside a splashing mountain creek. Dogs must be on leash.

The Kalapuya tribe in Kings Valley traditionally used fire to manage the land, burning off grass and fir seedlings. The resulting oak savanna provided food—edible camas flower bulbs, acorns, tarweed seeds, and easily huntable deer.

Beginning in the 1770s, however, smallpox and other “white man’s” diseases killed up to 95 percent of the natives. Still, the Army rounded up Indians from all of western Oregon onto a reservation that encompassed the northern Coast Range.

Fort Hoskins opened in 1856, guarding the reservation at the intersection of two major Indian trails. The fort closed 9 years later and the site was sold to a family that lived and farmed there until 1992.

Meanwhile, another pioneer family settled 3 miles away on the other side of the Luckiamute River. Ashnah Plunkett, the first white child born in Kings Valley, had met her husband at a local dance. He was a California soldier serving as a drummer at Fort Hoskins. Together they built a white clapboard farmhouse along Plunkett Creek in 1875. Ashnah lived there until her death in 1933.

The Plunkett farm was bought in 1966 by Fred Beazell, an employee at a high-tech company in California’s Silicon Valley. Fred married his long-time sweetheart Dolores in 1968 and convinced her to move to Oregon in 1991.

But Dolores Beazell died just two years later. Grieving, and without children, Fred decided to leave the 586-acre property as a memorial to his beloved wife. Today Benton County manages the Beazell Memorial Forest for recreation and forest ecology. Logging is permitted only to pay certain park expenses.

To drive here from Corvallis, head…

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range.