Keep the Miller Woods Conservation Area in mind if you travel to McMinnville. It’s a neat 130 acres of forest and grassland just outside of the city, and a terrific place to learn more about woodland ecosystems while enjoying the outdoors.
The Miller Woods is privately run, and was donated to the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District in 2004 by Frieda Miller. The area is maintained primarily as an educational venue by the Yamhill SWCD. Through various demonstrations and educational programs, they teach land stewardship.
However, for those who just want to enjoy a trail with minimal elevation gain and a lot of natural beauty, there’s an open-to-the-public path that traces an L-shape around the perimeter of the woods. This is an easy, 3-mile hike favored by runners. There’s another trail that leads through the forest, past a mix of old-growth and 3rd growth trees and through a meadow. This trail has some gentle switchbacks, but is also easily accomplished at a walk or jog.
You'll see an array of ecosystems and wild critters during your hike/run. There’s an oak savannah, ponds, streams, hayfields and mixed woodlands. Expect to see at least signs of deer roaming the area, as well as a rich diversity of native birds and plants. Few know about this location (even locals) which makes it a perfect place for a quiet amble through the woods.
Miller Woods has a parking lot and informative trailhead, with a map of the woods to aid new hikers. Trails are signed by colored markers. There is a $3 fee and no pets are allowed.