Santiam State Forest is used for a wide range recreation activities including camping, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The forest has five campgrounds, a number of maintained day-use areas, and 21 miles (34 km) of hiking trails. One of the most popular sites is Shellburg Falls, located off Highway 22 near the town of Mehama. It has a quarter-mile hiking trail leading to the falls. It also has a one-half mile mountain bike trail constructed in 2006. Green Basin has two primitive hiking trails. One trail leads to the peak of Rocky Top Mountain where a fire lookout was once located. The other trail leads to a natural rock arch. Both of these trails are about one-half mile long. In the Butte Creek management area a short trail leads to Butte Creek Falls. The North Cascade District posts hiking information on kiosks at all the trailheads.
Oregon State Police troopers conduct vehicle patrols and provide law enforcement on the Santiam State Forest lands. Patrols enforce fish and wildlife, trespass, vandalism, and other state laws as well as fire regulations. Department of Forestry officers also patrol recreation areas and provide visitor assistance during high use periods.
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