The Willamette Fish Hatchery sits just outside of Oakridge. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven down Highway 58 without noticing the road sign pointing toward the hatchery. Luckily, at some point it captured my attention, and the hatchery ended up on my “things to see” list.
When we stopped by the hatchery last fall, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew there would be ponds full of fish, I suspected we’d have the opportunity to feed some, but I didn’t know we would be spending a couple enjoyable hours exploring everything the hatchery had to offer.
The Willamette Fish Hatchery was formed in 1983, when two historic and adjacent hatcheries were combined — the Willamette Trout Hatchery (originally constructed in 1922) and the adjoining Oakridge Salmon Hatchery (built in 1911).
Today, if you take the time to explore the kiosks, the interpretive trail, and the small museum you’ll learn the story of the hatcheries and fish management in the region. The nine-hole miniature golf course depicting the salmon life cycle and the exhibit of upland game birds add to the story. You’ll also find a picnic area, and of course, have a chance to feed the large trout.
According to the ODFW website, adult salmon are on hand through the summer. We missed those on this trip, but now that I know the hatchery is so easy to reach and such an enjoyable stop, we’ll be back in the future.
The hatchery is located east of Oakridge. Take Highway 58 to Salmon Creek Road (roughly 1.7 miles east of the stop light in Oakridge). Turn left (north) and travel one mile to the hatchery.