This Small Town Is Called the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ — and It Has Beautiful Vineyards and Waterfalls

Cottage Grove is less than 30 minutes from Eugene, Oregon.

Rolling hills by Dorena Lake

Melanie Ryan Griffin /

Travelers tend to overlook Cottage Grove, Oregon, a small city of just over 10,000 people south of Eugene. But those in the know are well aware that Cottage Grove offers a location most cities can only dream of — the community is sandwiched between a national forest and the ocean, making it easy to hike in the mountains one day and walk along the coast the next. Cottage Grove has a countryside feel, yet it's an easy drive to the larger cities of Eugene, Salem, and Portland. 

But while Cottage Grove’s location has long made it a standout spot, it is best known for the series of wildly picturesque covered bridges that rival those found on the East Coast. The city is nicknamed the "Covered Bridge Capital of the West" and boasts six covered bridges all within a short drive of downtown Cottage Grove. The historic bridges, which are increasingly rare, draw visitors to the city — but it’s Cottage Grove’s welcoming, small-town community and easy access to the waterfalls and trails of the Cascade Range that make it difficult to leave.

Here’s everything you need to know to plan a visit to Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Covered bridge with flowers at the opening

Colin Morton / Eugene, Cascades & Coast

Things to Do in Cottage Grove, Oregon

Visiting the city’s six covered bridges is a must — the real question is if you should make the trip on two wheels or four. Those who choose to see the sights by car will start their journey in Cottage Grove’s historic downtown. From there, the 30-mile drive passes by the charming, white Centennial Bridge, before journeying to Chambers Bridge, Mosby Creek Bridge, Stewart Bridge, Dorena Bridge, and finally, Currin Bridge. In addition to traveling by all six bridges, the route traverses along the shimmering Dorena Lakes.

Those who choose to undertake the covered bridge adventure by bike will get to experience the Covered Bridge Scenic Bikeway, Oregon’s first designated scenic bikeway. The bikeway is around 36 miles long and provides an up-close look at the beautiful bridges — many of which only allow pedestrians to cross. For bike rentals, drop by Rainy Peak Bicycles in downtown Cottage Grove.

During the heat of summer, head to the Brice Creek corridor in the Umpqua National Forest. This waterfall- and swimming-hole-studded forest is just outside Cottage Grove in a rocky canyon. Hikers can take on the eight-mile Brice Creek Trail, which passes by several small waterfalls and swimming holes, or meander down the .3-mile trail from Cedar Campground to the easily accessible Brice Creek Falls.

It’s also worth spending a morning walking through the historic downtown, which was the setting of the film "The General," and doing a self-guided tour of the city’s murals, which showcase Cottage Grove’s history — from the gold rush to its discovery by Hollywood. 

Exterior of Lily of the Field B&B

Colin Morton /

Where to Stay in Cottage Grove, Oregon

The nine acres surrounding Sweet Springs Family Farm are home to an array of farm animals, a large garden, and a series of onsite walking paths. Guests who book a night at the bed and breakfast can stay in the cottage, which has a full kitchen and soaking tub, or the funky Rest Stop Camp, a converted semi-truck cab sleeper that’s perched in the woods near a swimming hole. There are also tent and RV sites.

East of town, near the covered bridges of Dorena Lake, travelers will find the newly built Lily of the Field Bed & Breakfast, which sits on 1,200 acres and has meadow and mountain views from the inn’s various patios and balconies. 

During the spring, summer, and fall, many Cottage Grove travelers choose to park their rig or set up their tent at Baker Bay Park on the shores of Dorena Lake. The 48-site campground and park have a swimming area, boat ramp, showers, and bathrooms.

Exterior of Covered Bridge Brewing

Andy Vobora /

Where to Eat and Drink in Cottage Grove, Oregon

The best place to grab a bite (and a beer) is at Coast Fork Brewing, which has a rotating tap list, a covered patio, and weekly live music. Their food menu includes a series of savory pies — think shepherd’s pie and chicken pot pie — along with a robust sandwich menu.

Across the highway, the Covered Bridge Brewing Group doles out homebrewed beer, cider, hard seltzer, and soda, along with a small pub menu and a series of food trucks parked in the beer garden out back.

If beer isn’t your thing, make the nine-minute drive north to Saginaw Vineyard, a self-described “down-home winery” set in a charming red barn in the countryside. You can pair your wine with a cheese board, soup, or pizza from the vineyard’s small menu. 

When to Visit

If you’re visiting Cottage Grove for the covered bridges, the most iconic sights will be found in the fall when the historic structures are framed with orange, red, and gold leaves. That said, a dusting of snow or spring blooms can be equally appealing. 

Those who are visiting for outdoor adventure will want to plan their trip in summer or early fall when the trails are clear and the campgrounds are open.

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