Nature’s Hidden Gems


With five offices throughout Oregon, opportunities abound for O’Brien’s team members to get outside and enjoy all that the region has to offer for recreational activities. To celebrate Earth Month, we asked a team member from each region in which we have offices to share their personal “hidden gem” so that others can discover and explore Oregon’s natural beauty.

Central Oregon

“I love, love waterfalls in the spring–especially in Central Oregon. This time of the year, the snow is melting and the waterfalls get huge and have a lot of water volume coming over the edge. A couple of local favorites are Tumalo Falls and Benham Falls. But one that I love and have been going to since I was a kid with my parents is Sahalie Falls. It’s a gem in between Bend and Springfield off the Mackenzie Hwy and is absolutely amazing this time of the year. I definitely recommend a good waterfall!” – Leonard Jarvis, Assistant Project Manager.

Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls are located along the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass and West Cascades National Scenic Byways off Highway 126. The Waterfalls Loop Trail, part of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, connects the two waterfalls and offers up close views of the wild McKenzie River. Sahalie Falls is a mass of foaming white water plunging 100 feet (30 m) over a natural lava dam. This famous falls can be spotted in Disney’s movie Homeward Bound.

Portland Metro

“Big fan of Dog Mountain in the Spring! A little more challenging of a hike but there are wildflower fields near the top that are beautiful.” – Alex Noble, Project Manager

Located East of Stevenson, Carson, and Home Valley, WA; West of White Salmon, WA, and across the river from Cascade Locks, OR, Dog Mountain Day Use Area and Trailhead is the access point for two of the most scenic trails in the Gorge, Dog Mountain Trail #147 and Augspurger Trail #4407. These two trails form a popular loop hike, if you connect via the 1.5 mile Dog-Augspurger Tie Trail.

The area is most popular for its spring-blooming yellow balsamroot meadows, which occur at its upper meadows. Look for other wildflowers, such as white phantom orchids, Indian paintbrush and purple lupine, that add color to the mix. During the peak spring wildflower season, a permit is required to park at the Dog Mtn Trailhead parking lot on Saturdays and Sundays. Permit season for 2024 is April 27 – June 16 and Memorial Day. If there are no permits available, hikers may take the shuttle from Stevenson and a hand stamp will serve as your hiking permit.

Oregon Coast

“Kayaking in the Yaquina Bay gives you a great experience to get up close to sea lions and the NOAA research vessels, and check out a huge variety of waterfowl, including Great Blue Herons and Brown pelicans. On the south side of the Yaquina Bridge by the Rogue Brewers on the Bay is a non-motorized boat launch–and a great walking pier you can fish and crab from, or just enjoy the view of the bridge.” – Rian Martinsen, Director of Safety.

Kayaking Yaquina Bay provides enthusiasts with an intimate way to explore its diverse ecosystem, from its tranquil estuaries to its bustling harbor. Paddlers can enjoy lovely views of the Oregon coast while gliding through calm waters, encountering wildlife such as seals, seabirds, and even occasional whales. With convenient launch points and opportunities for both leisurely paddling and more adventurous exploration, Yaquina Bay offers recreation for kayakers of all skill levels.

Willamette Valley

“My recommendation is Silver Falls. There are several really nice hikes around the falls and the adjacent area. There is a sort of a cave behind the falls that is part of the trail where you can sit and have a snack while enjoying the view.” – Jeff Stafford, Superintendent

The Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon is a breathtaking hiking experience renowned for its natural beauty and cascading waterfalls. Spanning around 8.7 miles, this well-maintained trail winds through lush forests, offering stunning viewpoints of ten majestic waterfalls along the way. As visitors explore the Trail of Ten Falls, they are immersed in the tranquil ambiance of the Pacific Northwest, making it an unforgettable outdoor adventure.