This story first ran in the March 20, 1996, edition of WW.
Favorite outdoor spots are a private thing. Though many gloat over the last place they camped and the seclusion they found, few readily hand out specifics on the exact location for fear of abusing their sacred spot. So, considering that we’ve asked well-known personalities in town to name their favorite outdoor spots, you might think we didn’t get much response—especially because personalities generally don’t like crowds anyway. Luckily, however, we did find a few adventurous types who were willing to tell all.
So pack up your gear and head to the mountains, like City Commissioner Charlie Hales. Or just take the bus over to Eastmoreland Park and enjoy the same scenic beauty right here in town, as the head of our Parks and Recreation Bureau, Charles Jordan, does. Here are their suggestions.
DON FRANCIS, Willamette River keeper
I’m not gonna give you my favorite spot because when I was a kid, we used to go to Sauvie Island and there was never anyone there. Then Willamette Week put it in their outdoor guide as a great place to go and it got packed. My favorite place to go is the Willamette River. It’s a gorgeous river that’s full of wildlife. There you’re in the middle of the valley, and up until about Corvallis, you can actually see through the water. Then it gets a bit funky. My favorite spot on the river is Buckskin Mary’s Landing because of the legend that goes with it. I’ve never seen Mary, but every time I go there the campsite is empty, except for some filleted salmon in a fry pan over the fire and as many chilled margaritas as there are people in your group. Then the osprey hover over you as you leave in the morning. It’s a great spot, and we’ll be going back this year on our annual canoe trip from Eugene to Portland. (Francis would not give the exact location; you’ll have to take the canoe trip.)
JACK CAIN , Portland Rockies owner
My favorite outdoor spot is Civic Stadium. Other than that, I’d say I like the Bend area a lot.
BEV CLARNO, Oregon House speaker
My favorite spot is the badlands of central Oregon which abut my property. I love to ride my horse there. It’s hot and dry. You see eagles soaring and beautiful wildflowers in the spring.
DAVID KRONENBERG, vocalist/guitarist for Higher Ground
I had such a fucking epic time on the main stage at the Country Fair in Veneta, I’d have to say there. It was the best 45 minutes of my life, and every time I go back, I relive that great experience.
CHARLIE HALES, city commissioner
My favorite place in Oregon is Wahclella Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge, because it’s a user-friendly gorge hike where you can take kids, hike in only a mile and be completely away from it all. Plus, it’s a beautiful, dramatic piece of geology. But I don’t want anyone to know where it is, so don’t write about it.
CHARLES JORDAN, head of Portland Parks and Recreation
My favorite spot in Oregon is Crystal Springs Rhododendron gardens near Eastmoreland Park on an early summer evening. Just sitting on a bench watching the golfers and ducks and walkers is just so peaceful.
ANN SCHATZ, KOIN-TV sportscaster
The place where I absolutely lose myself in and would pay cold, hard cash to go to is the Wildwood Trails in Forest Park when there’s no one else around. I go for runs there and it’s great ... It’s right in the city.
ROBERT LIBERTY, head of 1000 Friends of Oregon
I like to backpack. I do a little of what I call “wimp mountain climbing.” That is, major peaks, but easy routes, and cross-country skiing, although damn little this winter because of work. I’d be willing to share some—but not very many—of my favorite backpacking spots. I really like Boardman State Park in Curry County on the southern Oregon coast, because it’s a beautiful, wild point of the coast with rural grasslands and it’s quieter than the northern beaches. In the mountains, though, I like the Chamber Lake Basin in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area and Elk Cove on Mount Hood. And the area between Klamath Falls and Lakeview is spectacular country that very few people visit.
BOB STACEY, land-use lawyer
I haven’t been there in a while, but my favorite place in Oregon is the Tom McCall Wildflower Preserve near Roweena on the old highway. You gotta watch out for the poison oak, but it sits on a crest overlooking the gorge with wildflowers and wetlands all around.
GAIL SHIBLEY, state representative and City Council candidate
There’s a little section of Forest Park that is particularly wonderful and peaceful to me and offers tremendous contemplative opportunities. It kind of helps me reconnect with myself, with my environs, and also very close-by there are some wonderful scenic vistas of some cityscapes around Portland looking into North and Northeast Portland, as well as downtown. I find that a good cathartic spot to land when I need to rejuvenate myself. There’s also wonderful jogging and hiking and biking there when I need to get my heart rate up.
KATHRYN KANJO, curator of contemporary art, Portland Art Museum
My favorite place is Forest Park, because it’s the only place I’ve been to. I like it because it’s there so suddenly and it offers, on the one hand, forest and ferns, and the river on the other. And it’s all just blocks from gourmet coffee, which all seems very Portland to me. So that’s a newcomer’s favorite place.