Florence is often billed as a river town, and why not with 17 lakes and rivers in and around the area. But the hidden gem is the Pacific Ocean which is located just over the dune. When it comes to enjoying the Ocean, the possibilities for soft adventure are truly endless. Walk along the surf in search of glass floats, shells, agates and driftwood. Hit the Oregon Coast Trail for hiking, biking or horseback riding. Whatever you do, don’t miss any of the star attractions along the way; Sea Lion Caves, Heceta Head Lighthouse and Cape Perpetua.
East of Florence along Hwy 126 and the Siuslaw River you will find a series of hikes in old growth forest, as well as amazing waterfalls.
Between Eugene and the rural-suburban city of Veneta, Route 126 passes through farmland and crosses the southern portion of Fern Ridge Reservoir, a popular recreation magnet for the area. A Union Pacific Railroad branch line, built to Coos Bay in 1914, parallels Route 126 for much of its length between Eugene and Veneta.
At Veneta, Route 126 begins its ascent into the Coast Range, cresting at milepost 80 on Cougar Pass, elevation 800 ft (240 m). Cougar Pass marks the division point between the watersheds of the Willamette and Siuslaw rivers. As it descends toward the Siuslaw Valley and the coast, Route 126 follows first Wildcat Creek and then the Siuslaw River itself. On this downhill stretch the Petersen Tunnel (completed in 1957) marks the point where the last barrier to a one-hour drive from Eugene to the coast was breached.
At Mapleton and the junction with Oregon Route 36, Route 126 turns sharply to the west. For 14 miles, it follows the Siuslaw to the western terminus of river and road, the coastal community of Florence.