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June 15th, 2011 CRAIG BEEBE, ASHLEY COLLMAN, CHRISTINA COOKE, LIZ CRAIN, JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG, WHITNEY HAWKE, BEN WATERHOUSE | Featured Stories
 

Summer Guide 2011: Go Play Outside

You have 32 days off before the end of September. Here’s how you’re going to spend them.

lede_playoutside_3732BIG DIPPER: The Washougal River is a secluded and scenic spot for a swim. - IMAGE: Missy Prince
     
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In Portland

Root, Root, Root at the Little League Softball World Series

If you think all 11 year-old girls are pretty little princesses, think again. At the Little League Softball World Series (hosted every year at Alpenrose Dairy), bat-wielding girls from all over the world come slug it out on the diamond like competitive little monsters thirsting for global domination. This year, the tournament stretches from Aug. 11 to 17, with the semifinals and championship games televised on ESPN2. Insider tip: The bleachers get inundated with dreaded softball parents. Stretching out on Alpenrose’s grassy knoll is more comfortable and sunny. So sit down, cool off with a Sno-Kone and watch these girls play their hearts out in the biggest games of their young lives. (WH)

Read more: softballworldseries.com


Explore Marshall Park

Difficulty: Easy

According to city records, F.C. Marshall, the gentleman who donated Marshall Park to Portland in the ’50s, devoted a decade “to transforming an abandoned quarry…into a charming little park which he would like to dedicate without too much fuss to the recreational use of the public.” Marshall succeeded—perhaps more completely than he would have liked. His legacy, tucked into a ravine in Southwest, is so unfussy as to be basically hidden. For those who can find it, though, Marshall Park is charming indeed. Its paths descend from surrounding streets, through urban forest, to the ravine floor, where Tryon Creek flows past a quiet, grassy area with a picnic table, a playground and a quaint stone bridge missing its troll. (JF)

Read more: portlandonline.com/parks/finder (search “marshall park”)


Walk the Willamette Greenway

Difficulty: Easy

Looking for a long hike with beautiful vistas? Don’t bother with the car—just hop on the nearest bus to downtown and get off at any bridge. The trails of the Willamette Greenway form a nearly uninterrupted (except for a short jaunt along Southwest Moody Avenue) 11-mile loop along both sides of the river between the Sellwood and Steel bridges, passing through the East Bank Esplanade, Oaks Bottom, Corbett and Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. With lovely views both pristine and industrial along the way and sound levels ranging from blissful to just-below-the-freeway thunder, it’s a fascinating, four-hour hike that will make you re-evaluate your view of Portland’s geography. (BW)


Attempt Hiking Yoga

Difficulty: Moderate (5,000 feet of elevation gain)

Hiking Yoga brings together the best of both worlds: cardio and toning. And woods. On this weekly 3.6-mile loop hike in Washington Park, hikers take three to four breaks along the trail to do yoga. If you’re a nature lover and regular yoga isn’t enough of a challenge for you, or you just like stretching in the presence of birds, try this out. (AC)

Read more: hikingyoga.com


Celebrate the Fourth of July at Mount Tabor

As the highest elevation point on the close-in east side, the upper slopes of Mount Tabor afford the best vantage point for watching Fourth of July fireworks shows from Oaks Park to Fort Vancouver. By the park’s upper reservoir, a quiet crowd of families, couples, dogs and other upstanding Portland denizens ooh and ahh at the rockets’ red glare. Yawn-inducing, isn’t it? But above the reservoir, on Tabor’s dimly lit hillsides, are the city’s real liberty-lovers—and Southeast Portland’s (if not all of Portland’s) largest drinking-and-illegal-fireworks-launching Independence Day party. (JF)

Read more: portlandonline.com/parks/finder (search “mount tabor”)


Kayak Sauvie Island or the Willamette River

Difficulty: Easy

Explore Portland’s urban waterways—and pick up some mad paddling skills while you’re at it—on a half- or full-day kayaking trip with the certified instructors at the Next Adventure Kayak School. On the eight-hour Sauvie trip ($85 per person, lunch and gear included), you’ll paddle between the island’s interior lakes, including Sturgeon Lake, which is much larger than you’d expect. (On a sunny day, you can see Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens from the lake.) Or get to know the Willamette River up close on a 2.5-hour paddle trip from Sellwood Riverfront Park to the Ross Island Lagoon ($40). In both cases, keep your eyes out for waterfowl, bald eagles and osprey. The Kayak School offers more technical whitewater and sea kayaking classes as well. (CC)

Read more: nextadventure.net/kayak-school


Play Pétanque in the Park

Pétanque is a French game in which players aim to throw cupcake-sized metal boules closer than their opponents’ to a wee wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally, “piglet”). For a game actually invented for old people (the rule that players must throw with planted feet, rather than take running steps, was created to accommodate elderly people with reduced mobility), it’s a boule to play. Portland, Euro-lovin’ pinko town that it is, has not one, but deux pétanque organizations: The Portland Bouligans meet at the Pearl’s Jamison Square, while the Portland Pétanque Club plays at Sellwood’s Westmoreland Park. Both groups welcome first-timers. (JF) 

Read more: portlandbouligans.com or pdxpetanque.org


Nearby

Drink Scotch and Wear a Kilt in Oregon City

Travel time (by car): 30 minutes

Difficulty: Some may find drinking scotch difficult.

You can’t ask for a nicer spot to throw back a few drams of fine single-malt scotch than the Highland Stillhouse Scottish pub, perched above Oregon Falls in Oregon City. It’s a classic public house inside, with a nice patio outside for summer sipping and live music, and claims to carry the Portland area’s largest selection of single-malt scotch. Kilt-friendly and closed Mondays. (LC)

Read more: highlandstillhouse.com


Swim the Washougal River

Travel time: 30 minutes

Although roughly as close to Portland as bathing destinations on the Sandy River or Sauvie Island, the swimming holes on the Washougal River are far less frequented. True, the Washington waterway has rocky banks where its Oregon counterparts have sandy beaches, but the reason—and the trade-off—is that the woods on either side of the river come right up to its banks, making for secluded-feeling and scenic surroundings in which to take a dip. Dougan Falls is the Washougal’s best-known watering hole, owing to the impressive falls themselves and a jumping rock, but Washougal River Road, which follows the river’s course, goes past at least six other swim spots. (JF)

Read more: swimmingholes.org/wa.html


Pick Blueberries in Beaverton

Travel time: 40 minutes

Difficulty: Easy pickin’

Everyone and his brother picks blueberries on Sauvie Island. You, however, can go where most local blueberry pickers have not gone: Beaverton. Or nearly Beaverton, anyway. Bonny Slope Blueberries, just off Northwest Thompson Road at 3565 NW South Road, is 1.5 acres of 20-year-old blueberry bushes just this side of city limits. Bring your own container, make an appointment (required) and pick a day Monday through Sunday. Call ahead (645-1252) and make it happen because blueberry season is a blink of the eye in these parts, from early July to mid-August. And don’t bring your pup. No matter how cute it is, there are no dogs allowed. (LC)

Read more: tricountyfarm.org/farms/bonny-slope-blueberries


Hunt in Aurora

Travel time: 30 minutes

Founded as a utopian religious commune by Dr. William Keil in 1856, Aurora was once best known for its furniture, marching band and good German food. The commune dissolved shortly after Keil’s death, but the town still welcomes lost souls, albeit to sell them pieces of the past. Antique stores crowd the historic center and stretch a mile south, filling old houses, banks, a train depot, even a restored mill. Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage, Main Street Mercantile, and the Highway 99E Antique Mall are among the most interesting shops, but almost every one is worth poking through, whatever your particular collection. For an especially nostalgic day, take the Canby Ferry instead of I-5 or 99E. (CB)

Read more: auroracolony.com/index.html. For info on the Canby Ferry: clackamas.us/transportation/transit/ferry.jsp


Float Away with Vista Balloon Adventures

Travel Time: 43 minutes

Difficulty: Depends how you feel about heights

It always feels nice to show gravity who’s boss. If skydiving isn’t your cup of tea, a hot-air balloon ride with Vista Balloon Adventures is just right. Since 1989, Vista balloon pilots have taken riders floating over Yamhill County’s rolling wine country during the summer months (flight season is April through October). The death-defying thrill of extreme sports is thankfully lacking, but riders still get to work up a sweat while helping set up the balloons before takeoff, and folding the balloons upon landing. The price tag is spendy (at $189 per person), but the experience comes with a decadent home-cooked brunch and mimosas, which make a romantic outing for that special someone who soars above the rest. (WH)

Read more: vistaballoon.com


Take Your Pick at West Union Gardens

Travel time: 20 minutes

A few miles north of Highway 26 on Cornelius Pass Road, West Union Gardens is a reminder why the Urban Growth Boundary is a good thing, for foodies as well as farmers. A stone’s throw from golf courses and subdivisions in Rock Creek, West Union grows an astonishing array of berries ripe for U-picking at the height of summer: blackberries and raspberries, yes, but also currants (red and white), gooseberries and a bunch of berries you’ve probably never heard of—tayberries? jostaberries?—as well as a variety of vegetables, all with lovely views of the backside of the Tualatin Mountains. (CB)

Read more: westuniongardens.com


Bungee Jump IN a Washington Forest

Travel time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Technically, easy; you take one step and gravity does the rest.

Hurl yourself nearly 200 feet off the highest bungee bridge in the United States, located over a Class V whitewater river in an evergreen forest near Amboy, Wash. You’ll find the views breathtaking, in the most literal sense of the word. The folks at Bungee Masters have a morbid sense of humor (an example: You must mark yes or no to an open casket on the waiver form), but serve as national bungee safety consultants and helped draft the Code of Safe Practice for the bungeejumping industry. One jump will set you back $99 (plus tax), two jumps and a T-shirt are $129. Jumps happen rain or shine. (CC)

Read more: bungee.com


Hike Wahkeena Falls

Travel Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

Description: Oregon greenhorns, nature newbs—trust us: You would rather go over Multnomah Falls than visit them during the summer months, when the state’s most popular natural attraction is overrun on the trails by improperly dressed sightseers and jammed in the parking lot with exhaust-fuming tour buses. Wahkeena Falls is still well known (it’s near impossible to bypass the masses on a sunny day in the close-in Gorge) but is something of an insider’s Multnomah Falls hike. The 5.2-mile loop carries you past its namesake cascade, the fancifully named Fairy Falls and the enchanting Wahkeena Springs before depositing you at the top, rather than the teeming bottom, of Multnomah Falls. (JF)

Read more: Search “wahkeena falls” online.


Eat Weeds and Stuff

Difficulty: Easy

You may want to eat things from your backyard, and you may also want to eat things from other peoples’ backyards. If so, don’t be embarrassed. Rather, consider reserving a spot for one of John Kallas’ Wild Food Adventures workshops ($16-$25) this summer. Since 1993, Kallas has been taking groups on local wild edible foraging expeditions in Portland, on Sauvie Island, at the coast, and beyond. Did you know that you can eat barnacles? Escargot of the sea, my friend. (LC)

Read more: wildfoodadventures.com


Day Trips

Bike the Banks Vernonia Trail

Travel time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Finally completed in October 2010 after nearly 20 years of acquisition and construction, the 21-mile (one way) Banks-Vernonia State Trail follows an abandoned logging railroad corridor through the leafy heart of the Coast Range. Entirely paved and generally flat, the trail crosses 13 bridges and trestles, and passes Stub Stewart State Park, which has a campground perfect for turning this ride into a weekend getaway. At the northern end, the timber town of Vernonia provides some decent options for refueling; the selection of microbrews at Bear Creek Pub (831 Bridge St.) is particularly welcome on a summer afternoon. (CB)

Read more: oregonstateparks.org/park_145.php


Float the Columbia River

Travel time: 2 hours

Difficulty: Easy breezy

It’s touristy and the captain will probably talk about salmon, dugout canoes and the likes on the loudspeaker, but a cruise up and down the Columbia on the triple-deck paddle-wheeler the Sternwheeler is pretty dang fun. There are all sorts of cruises to choose from, ranging from just over an hour to five hours, some with food, some without. The food and drink are nothing special, but it’s really nice to be on the river. (LC)

Read more: portlandspirit.com/sternwheeler.php


Hike Bald Butte

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Difficulty: Somewhat difficult (2,100 feet of elevation gain)

Beginning from a trailhead on Highway 35 about 15 miles south of Hood River, the 8-mile round-trip climb to the 3,700-foot Bald Butte is a mix of the pleasantly pastoral (oak woodlands and abundant wildflowers) and the slightly jarring (the trail passes under huge, buzzing power lines, and the last mile is an exposed, steep dirt track shared with the occasional 4x4). Fortunately, a virtue of being “bald” is the incredible view once you reach the top: four Cascade peaks and the entire Hood River Valley laid out below. Even better: a nice pint of Double Mountain ale waiting just down the road. (CB)

Read more: portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Bald_Butte_Hike


Hike Catherine Creek

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Description: Seen one coniferous forest, seen ’em all? For hikers in this neck of the woods, it can sometimes feel that way. An hour-and-a-half drive and a few bucks of gas money gets you not only this spectacular hike amid the wildflower-filled meadows cresting the Washington side of the Gorge—it also gets you a reminder of the Pacific Northwest’s amazing ecological diversity. More a system of trails than a single route, Catherine Creek is best explored meandering while gaping at the sweeping vista of the Columbia River and Mount Hood. As you read these words, the wildflowers are wilting; go soon to see their fading glory. (JF)

Read more: Search “catherine creek” online (Catherine Creek State Park, in eastern Oregon, is unrelated).


Bike Mount Angel

Travel time: 40-minute drive to the start of the ride

Difficulty: Moderate (fairly flat, save the short climb to the monastery, elev. 300 feet)

This 45-mile bike ride culminates midway at the Mount Angel Monastery, a red-roofed abbey that’s home to a community of Benedictine monks, on a bluff overlooking the Willamette Valley. The loop starts and ends in Canby, 22 miles south of Portland, and passes fields of hops, grape and hazelnut orchards, and the quaint Bavarian village of Mount Angel along the way. You’ll encounter spectacular views of Mount Hood throughout. (CC)

Read more: In the cycling guidebook Rubber to the Road, or search “mount angel loop” and “map my ride” online.


Hike Coyote Wall

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Difficulty: Somewhat difficult (1,900 feet elevation gain)

On the Washington side where the Gorge begins to dry out, Coyote Wall is a dramatic symbol of the region’s chaotic geologic past. It’s a fairly quiet hike today, with the best Gorge views this side of Dog Mountain. Beginning with a rolling trail through an oak forest, the hike joins a gravel road providing unparalleled views of Hood River, before skirting private property along the top of the ridge and emerging to a fantastic panorama to the east. From here, the braided paths descend steeply into a fantastic rocky labyrinth. Walk as close to the edge of the wall as you can handle, but watch out for mountain bikes! (CB)

Read more: wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/coyote-wall


Go to Astoria

Travel time: 2 hours

The city at the mouth of the Columbia is celebrating its bicentennial this summer, with events just about every weekend through the end of September. Head out June 17 through 26 to catch some opera at the Astoria Music Festival (astoriamusicfestival.org), grab some fish and chips right off the boat from the Bowpicker (bowpicker.com), down a few pints at Fort George Brewery (fortgeorgebrewery.com), have a Bosnian dinner at Drina Daisy (drinadaisy.com), spend the night at the Commodore Hotel (commodoreastoria.com), and have breakfast the next morning at Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe (bluescorcher.com). (BW)

Read more: astoria200.org


Hike Bayocean Spit

Travel time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

In the early 20th century, promoters envisioned an “Atlantic City of the West” on this windswept grassy spit at the mouth of Tillamook Bay. For a while, Bayocean was indeed a thriving place, complete with a natatorium (known today by the more prosaic “indoor swimming pool”), dance halls and hotels. More than 2,000 lots were sold by the 1920s, but shifting currents slowly reclaimed the sandy outcropping. By 1960, the last house had fallen into the sea. Today, Bayocean Spit is a fine place for a quiet 5-to-9-mile hike along the dunes and in the small forest on the bayside. Keep an eye out for bald eagles. (CB)

Read more: portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Bayocean_Spit_Hike


Longer Treks

Take Dramamine and Deep-Sea Fish

Travel time: Half to full day

Difficulty: Depends on how much you drank the night before (tktktkt something...ben) Portlanders often lament our city’s poor seafood options. Stop complaining and go deep-sea fishing. There are loads of charters up and down the Oregon Coast (typically $70 to $200 for half- to full-day trips) ready and waiting to help you catch your own. Charters provide bait and tackle and usually guarantee you’ll reel in at least enough to fill a normal-sized cooler with rockfish, lingcod, tuna, halibut, salmon or Dungeness crab. (LC)

Read more: Search “deep sea charter fishing oregon coast” online.


Drink the Gorge Dry

Travel time: 4 hours driving, just as much drinking.

Difficulty: Easy, if you bring a driver.

It’s a pub crawl on an epic scale, amid the rolling hills and desolate cliffs of the Columbia Gorge: Start at Marchesi Vineyards in Hood River (3955 Belmont Drive), where the vintner, Franco, pours excellent Italian-style reds with accompanying salami; pop into town for a pint and a pizza at Double Mountain Brewery (8 4th St., No. 204) and a glass of zinfandel at Quenett Winery’s tasting room (111 Oak St.); cross the Hood River Bridge and drive along Highway 14 to Lyle to taste the goods at Syncline (111 Balch Road, say hello to the dogs) and Jacob Williams (421 State St.); continue east to Maryhill Winery in Goldendale, renowned for its generous tasting room (9774 Washington 14); cross the river to Biggs Junction and take I-84 east to Pendleton, where you’ll end your journey with a pint of Bruce/Lee Porter and a Scotch egg at Prodigal Son Brewery (230 SE Court Ave.). Then crash at the Working Girls Hotel, a former brothel at 17 SW Emigrant Ave.

Read more: columbiagorgewine.com, oregonbeer.org and pendletonundergroundtours.org.


Hike Indian Heaven Wilderness

Travel time: 2 hours 90 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

The Indian Heaven Wilderness spans only a 10-by-5-mile area in southern Washington, but it feels much larger. In the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mount Adams and the Columbia River Gorge, the wilderness area contains 42 miles of hiking trails, including a 16-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail, and more than 150 clear, frigid lakes and ponds. (Swim if you dare!) Packed with volcanic formations, subalpine forests and meadows, and a 2,000-foot-long field that used to serve as a track for horse races during Native American tribal gatherings, the area is ripe for exploration. Wildflowers abound during the summer months and huckleberries during the fall. Bring along mosquito repellent through July. (CC)

Read more: Search “indian heaven wilderness” online.


Explore the Valley of the Giants

Travel time: About 3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

The 1.4-mile hike is easy; it’s the drive to this remote preserve—a brutal crawl along primitive forest roads (one 30-mile section takes 90 minutes)—that keeps most folks away. But hidden in the Coast Range, this BLM-managed grove near the source of the Siletz River is one of Oregon’s most precious gatherings of old-growth Douglas firs and Western hemlocks, up to 200 feet tall and over 20 feet in circumference, in an impossibly serene setting. It’s hard to contemplate how long these sentinels have stood here. It’s a crazy drive; carry spare tires and a detailed map. (CB)

Read more: Contact the Bureau of Land Management’s Salem office at 375-5646 for directions. They’re not published on the Web.


Escape to Olallie Lake Resort

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Nominally a fishing resort, this cluster of cabins on the edge of one of the myriad mountain lakes of the Cascade range is the most peaceful place I know in Oregon. The water is always a steely smooth mirror, the air icy, the trees shockingly green. It’s a long way from just about everything, 5,000 feet up the Cascades north of Mount Jefferson, high enough that the resort is open for only 17 weeks of the year. Accommodations include tiny spare cabins, well-appointed yurts and six-person lodges, but all are just a small step above camping. Rentals run $345 to $480 a week, and it’s worth a long stay—between morning walks around the 3-mile circumference of the lake and cool evenings by the fire, Olallie is a quiet, isolated respite from whatever troubles. Whether you’re out to finish a novel or just snag a few trout, this is the place. (BW)

Read more: olallielakeresort.com


Gawk at Petersen’s Rock Gardens

Travel time: About 3 hours

In 1935, Danish immigrant Rasmus Petersen began collecting rocks in and around his Deschutes County ranch south of Redmond. By his death in 1954, he had amassed an astonishing collection of basalt, obsidian, agate and petrified wood, which he turned into a jumble of miniature monuments: castles, bridges, even the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol. It’s either an igenious work of folk art, or an old-school tourist trap. But don’t laugh; these monuments will probably outlast you, too. To quote a plaque near Lady Liberty: “Enjoy Yourself. It Is Later Than You Think.” Clearly, Rasmus was a philosopher as well as an architect. (CB)

Read more: narrowlarry.com/nlpete.html


Eat at K&R Drive Inn 

Travel time: 2 hours 53 minutes

Motoring hundreds of miles down I-5 is thoroughly mind-numbing. For 40 years, K&R Drive Inn has kept travelers’ blood sugar sky high with friendly locals serving 38 flavors of Umpqua ice cream. Dusty drivers can escape their cars, stretch their legs and photosynthesize on K&R’s sunny picnic tables while engaging in a sensual make-out sesh with one of the Drive Inn’s towering ice cream cones. Although K&R is famous for its ice cream, you can pair your cone with a burger or some fried fare for a balanced meal. (WH)

Read more: krdriveinn.com, Exit 148 off I-5

Hike the Cove Palisades

Travel time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Difficulty: Fairly difficult (six miles and 600 feet of swift elevation gain).

Twenty-seven miles northeast of Redmond, the Crooked Deschutes and Metolius rivers are impounded by the Round Butte dam in a spectacular, arid canyon. The high cliffs are home to petroglyphs, lichens of all colors and one of the few remaining pockets of pre-settlement ecology left in Oregon. The Tam-a-láu Trail takes hikers up the edge of a mesa that overlooks “The Island,” a barren peninsula closed to visitors in 1997 to protect the local flora and fauna. The view is unlike anything else in central Oregon, a vista more akin to the Colorado River’s canyons than the lakes of the Cascades. If you want to make a weekend of it, rent one of the luxurious cabins on the edge of the lake ($76 per night). (BW)

Read more: oregonstateparks.org/park_32.php

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