June 27th, 2007 12:00 am Ethan Smith | Special Section Stories

Willamette Valley

Monks, tracks, tubing and wine make the fertile strip a virile place to play.

South Falls
IMAGE: thomas cobb

Bike: Scenic 99W

Why go: 'Cause you don't even know what ripe is. What to expect: A less busy and more scenic route from Portland to Eugene than I-5, through the fertile promised land that inspired travelers on the Oregon Trail. Stop at produce stands and learn to instantly hate the supermarket. Pack this: Tire patches and a handlebar basket. Google it: ODOT maps.

Drive: Albany's Covered Bridges

Why go: Because you never get to see bridges in Portland. What to expect: Eight rustic wooden tunnels—Crawfordsville, Gilkey, Hannah, Hoffman, Larwood, Shimanek, Short and Weddle—rare enough to be protected as historical landmarks. Pack this: A pair of garage doors—you can make a house! Google it: Linn County covered bridges.

Hike: Silver Falls

Why go: Unleash your inner Batman—hike through recessed caves cut behind the waterfalls. What to expect: Right off OR 214, South Falls dives 177 feet to a swimming hole, with a nearby lodge and gift shop. Park and strike out on the Trail of Ten Falls trailhead, which winds past nine more falls in just nine miles. Pack this: The Bat Poncho—the falls are misty even on sunny days. Google it: Silver Falls.

Look: Oregon Garden

Why go: To stop and smell the roses. What to expect: Twenty distinctive gardens, giant goldfish, carnivorous plants, a 400-year-old oak tree and every type of flower in the world (or so it seems)—for the same price as a boring old movie. Pack this: A good antihistamine, money for admission ($4-$10). Google it: Oregon Garden.

Look: Frank Lloyd Wright's Gordon House

Why go: Finally, an excuse to wear that Mod Squad gear. What to expect: Oregon's only example of Wright's "Usonian"-style architecture, the Gordon House has his slick, retro signature that somehow feels old and modern at the same time. Pack this: Beatle boots, mock turtleneck. Google it: Oregon Gordon House.

Pray: Mount Angel Abbey

Why go: Even atheists like religious architecture. What to expect: A still-functioning Benedictine abbey—complete with chapel, gallery, retreat house and rare-book room—perched on a 300-foot bluff with stunning views of Hood, St. Helens and Adams. Pack this: A clean habit and plenty of piety. Google it: Mount Angel Abbey.

Run: Hayward Field

Why go: To feel the wind in your mustache, just like Pre. What to expect: The track in Track Town, U.S.A., where Phil Knight, armed with a waffle iron and a dream, started plotting world domination. Every spring Hayward hosts international track stars at the Prefontaine Classic, and in 2008 runner's-high junkies will descend on Eugene for the U.S. Olympic track-and-field trials. Pack this: Anything with a Swoosh on it. Google it: Ducks Hayward Field.

Skate: Newberg's Chehalem Skate Park

Why go: Skateboarding is the only thing that will save you from becoming a drug-addled preteen. What to expect: Over 29,000 square feet of flowing cement contours that Thrasher magazine called the best skate park in the world. Tony Hawk agreed. The park was built after more than 200 middle-schoolers petitioned the Parks and Rec district. Pack this: A helmet and humility—for the adolescent prodigies who'll make you look like the newbie you are. Google it: Chehalem Skate Park.

Tube: Sandy River

Why go: To rub floaties with Portland's eclectic river rats. What to expect: Busy beaches, a (mostly) gentle river and an even split between drinkers and tanners. Lay out till you start to sizzle, then take dip (or a tube) to cool off. Pack this: A buoyant cooler full of beer. Cheaper = better. Google it: Oxbow Park.
Get Out!
These Forests Ain't Virgin Anymore
Over the Edge
Doggin' It
Cycle Tour 101
Get Out 100:
Willamette Valley
The Coast
Great Cascades/Columbia Gorge
Central Oregon/High Desert
Oregon's Outer Edges
Washington State
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