It may not boast the title of Tracktown, USA, or have the foodie culture and urban appeal of Portland, but the oft overlooked Corvallis, OR, has plenty to offer both locals and visitors. The city of over 55,000 residents has a wine walk, an annual Turkey Trot, an abundance of wineries and a state university offering cultural and educational experiences, as well as athletic spectatorship. Located north of Eugene, south of Portland, and about 15 miles off I-5, Corvallis is a great weekend destination for a balance of outdoor activities, gastronomic pleasures and small-town fun.
“The city itself has a high percentage of people who are active compared to other cities,” said Chris Smith, owner of Five Star Sports in Corvallis. “The interconnection of city and university also makes for unique circumstances regarding intercollegiate and club sporting teams. We’ve also got a lot of long standing races, some that have been around for 40 years.”
Visitors can start their weekend with a run, hike or bike ride (mountain or road) on one of the many trails surrounding Corvallis. There is an extensive trail system in McDonald Forest, Bald Hill and Filton Green. In early April, the Mudslinger XC Mountain Bike Race features a long course (18 miles and 3,200 feet of climbing) and a short course (11 miles and 1,600 feet of climbing). Thirty-two years running, the Mudslinger takes participants on a 2-mile initial climb before heading into Starker Forests in the Coast Range.
“The private Starker Forests land is the best family-based company because they allow recreation of so many types on their land,” said Mike Ripley, owner of Mudslinger Events.
The Corvallis Half Marathon and 5K takes place on April 13-14, 2019 and gives participants a “Tour de Corvallis” following a variety of paved roads, sidewalks and bike paths. The half marathon course starts in Reser Stadium on the Oregon State University campus and both races finish in the parking lot outside the stadium. Because the 5K and half marathon are run on back-to-back days, participants have the option to run both for a discounted price.
Another long-standing Corvallis tradition is the Fall Festival Run. This old-school 5K and 10K passes through Oregon State University’s campus and is held in conjunction with the Corvallis Fall Festival. This year, September 29 will mark the 41st annual run.
For the more adventurous, Marys Peak Trail Run on June 22, includes a 50M, 50K and 25K. Marys Peak, in the Siuslaw National Forest, is the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range at 4,097 feet above sea level. These ultra races challenge even veteran runners with steep trails and a variety of terrain, but the reward is breathtaking scenery.
Other races in the Corvallis area include the Condor 25K, McDonald Forest Trail Runs and the Alsea Falls Spring Fling Run.
“It’s a unique place to visit with trails so close to town and integrated into the northwest part of the town,” Ripley said.
Corvallis and the neighboring McDonald-Dunn Forest are also a great destination for gravel bikers. Part of the Oregon State campus, this forest land not only has mountain biking trails, but numerous gravel roads offering challenging terrain and scenic views of the Willamette Valley.
Another unique event in the Corvallis area is the Triumph 3-Day Iron Relay, August 9-11, organized by Best in the West Events. Unlike traditional triathlons, the Iron Relay is spread over three days with full or half iron-distance races and relay/team options. After each day, there is a social event at a different venue. The swim portion takes place at the Osborn Aquatic Center, the bike course is at Emerson Vineyards, and the run takes place at Brandis Farms. Participants can also camp at Brandis Farms for the weekend.
Best in the West Events also puts on the Heart of the Valley Triathlon and Duathlon on May 11. The swim portion is at the Osborn Aquatic Center (500 yards) and precedes a challenging but scenic bike ride (10.4 miles) and a 3-mile run. There is also a Kids Short Course and Long Course Triathlon event as well.
Aside from the active recreation in Corvallis and surrounding areas, there are also many wineries to visit, craft breweries to sample from and local restaurants to dine at. During the summer, the Da Vinci Days celebrates science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
And, of course, depending on the time of year, check out the Oregon State University Athletics schedule and catch a Beavers sporting event after a run in the forest, a bike ride, or a hike.