In the late ‘90s my husband and I went to New England during “leaf-peeping” season. We enjoyed the orange, gold, and rust autumn colors, and then became enamored with the area’s covered bridges. We bought a book on the topic, and proceeded to visit every covered bridge we could find in New Hampshire and Vermont. When approaching a bridge, we would pick up speed, roll down the windows, and then shut off the car. Coasting sans motor across the wooden slats made an appealing, repetitive tha-THUNKing noise that was, to us, reminiscent of horse-and-buggy days. Suffice it to say, I’m fond of covered bridges.
So I was thrilled when my husband suggested stopping at Wildcat Covered Bridge on the way home to Florence after a recent trip to Eugene. I was hoping for a short outing to extend our time together and break up the drive, and it was a perfect fit. It had been nearly a decade since we last crossed Wildcat Covered Bridge (why, I have no idea!), but it seemed unchanged from our prior visit.
According to Wikipedia, Oregon has 50 covered bridges, 20 of those in Lane County. That’s nearly as many as New Hampshire, and almost half the count in Vermont. I have never thought of Oregon as a covered bridge mecca, but its covered bridge representation is actually notable.
Note: The sign on the bridge says “Wild Cat Bridge,” but all online Lane County sources spell “Wildcat” without the space.
This wooden tunnel, 75-feet long and less than 12-feet high has a window in the center on the west side. The bridge’s acoustics amplify the rushing water of Wildcat Creek flowing underneath. Walk all the way across, or turn around after peering out the window. Either way, it’s a flash back in time, and a lot of fun!
|Terrain:||Parking area is dirt. The road is pavement until you reach the wood slats of the bridge’s floor. The planks have space between them, some quite wide, so be careful with a cane. If entering from the south side, there is a slight uphill slope, but it soon levels out.|
|Fee: There is no indication of a fee in the area to the south of the bridge. The north side is Austa Boat Launch which has a day use fee or requires a Lane County Annual Parking Pass.|
|Restrooms:||On the north side, not far from the boat launch.|
|Directions:||On Highway 126 between Mapleton and Veneta, more specifically east of the tunnel and west of Walton, not far from Mile Marker 27. Turn south on Siuslaw Road, loop back north under the highway, and you’ll soon see the bridge just ahead.|