A friend of ours was telling us about a Covered Bridge driving tour which their family had done a few months back. Curious, we asked her where it was located and she passed along this tour information. We hopped in the car, off on a date night adventure, armed with cameras and plenty of time and interest in exploring a new-to-us area of Oregon.
This covered bridge tour takes place around Scio, Oregon, which boasts of being the “Covered Bridge Capitol of the West” as it hosts 5 out of 8 total covered bridges in Linn County. The population of Scio is roughly 838 people, most of whom you won’t see when driving through. Those you do see will likely be found swimming in their favorite swimming hole under one of their favorite bridges.
The map directing you along the covered bridge driving tour is very helpful. It suggests that the tour will last roughly 2 1/2 hours and we found that to be quite accurate. The time only varies according to your own wishes. If you decide to hop into the river at any point your trip might take longer.
We followed the map and our first stop was Gilkey Bridge, built in 1939. I’d always wanted to drive through a covered bridge and this was my first. One thing to cross off the bucket list!
We moved on from there to the Hoffman Bridge, built in 1936. This one is notable as having been built primarily with hand tools.
Our third stop was at Shimanek Bridge, built in 1966. It is notable for being the only red covered bridge in Linn County. Sadly, it’s the hardest one to photograph being that there’s not much elbow room on the side of the road, allowing for cars to pull off and people to admire. We also found it to be the most heavily trafficked of all of the bridges which is fantastic but also meant we didn’t linger very long at this stop.
The Jordan Bridge is listed next on the map but we did not see this one. It was first first built to connect Pioneer Park and Wilderness Park in Stayton but then was moved to its position over Thomas Creek in 1994. Unfortunately the bridge caught fire when Christmas lights ignited the roof in December 1994. (I’m sure they were pretty.) Local citizens reconstructed the bridge and the new one was dedicated in 1998. It’s the youngest bridge in the tour, a relative newbie.
Skipping Jordan Bridge we made our way to Hannah Bridge, built in 1936. This one was my personal favorite. The map indicates that this is a popular swimming and fishing hole for the locals and we can affirm that to be the case. This was probably the most heavily populated of all of the areas we visited.
Love the architecture!
Lastly we visited the Larwood Bridge built in 1939. The Larwood Bridge sits over Larwood Wayside Park, another great spot for swimming. We spent a little time exploring around the park and decided that we’d definitely be bringing the kids back with us sometime. It has nice deep swimming spots as well as shallow spaces for kids to play around in which we know will prove delightful. There are picnic tables and bathrooms available as-needed and plenty of shade.
Here are a few pictures from the park which we captured:
Larwood makes for a perfect last stop on the tour to get out and stretch your legs a bit. Bring a picnic lunch or dinner and enjoy the place!
We were glad to explore this area and see the covered bridges. It was a fun and unique outing, providing much beauty to drink in.
Aside from the bridges on this tour, you’ll find yourself with multiple opportunities to pull over. There are plenty of sights to be seen. Take your time and enjoy!