Get Out

Summer's here. Go play outside.

By Zach Dundas, Peter Frick-Wright, Caitlin Giddings and Ben Waterhouse

Illustrations by Toby Thane Neighbors


HIKE: Angels Rest

Why go: All the delights of the western gorge in one hike, including a 150-foot waterfall and a breathtaking, windswept overlook. What to expect: A brisk climb that falls short of grueling, the 5-mile round-trip ascent swiftly climbs about 1,800 feet before reaching an open bluff. Watch out for powerful winds at the peak. Further reading: Search "angels rest" online. (BW)

HIKE: Beacon Rock State Park

Why go: Staggering gorge views—paid for with someone else's tax dollars! What to expect: Less than an hour's drive eastward on the Washington side of the gorge, Beacon Rock looms like a stone cathedral erected (ahem) by a particularly phallocentric cult. The vertiginous, iron-railed walkway takes you to a sweeping vista of the mighty Columbia—and afterward, you're not far from microbrew-enriched cool-down points like cute Stevenson, Wash., or Hood River. Further reading: Search "beacon rock state park, wash." online. (ZD)

HIKE: Elowah Falls

Why go: It's half as tall as Multnomah Falls, but you'll have it all to yourself. What to expect: Water falling 290 feet into a magnificent mossy cauldron. Take exit 35 from I-84 and drive two miles east to the John B. Yeon trailhead. The falls are about a mile uphill. Further reading: Curious Gorge by Scott Cook. (BW)

HIKE: Iron Mountain

Why go: Nothing but flowers (and a great view). What to expect: The 2.4-mile loop up this 5,000-foot-tall foothill of the cascades, 20 miles east of Sweet Home on Highway 20, passes through the most stunning meadows of wildflowers in Oregon. Home to more than 300 species, the fields that cover the hillside burst with every imaginable color. They peak in early summer, so head out soon! You'll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park. Further reading: Search "iron mountain, oregon" online. (BW)

HIKE: Kelley Point Park

Why go: A river beach is the best we can do in this town. What to expect: Kelley Point perches at the far end of North Portland's peninsula and a visit imparts a cool sensation of seeing the city in extremis. The site was originally settled by a crazy, utopian New Englander who tried (and failed) to start his own city here. Today, there's an endearingly trashy urban beach scene, excellent container-ship spotting and some easy hiking. Paradise of a different sort! Further reading: Search "kelley point" online. (ZD)

HIKE: Mount Talbert Nature Park

Why go: You're in Clackamas—might as well make the best of it. What to expect: Well, who knew? Tucked amid the Clackamaniacal sprawl and owned by Metro, the mystery meat of local governance, Mount Talbert is a stealthy gem. Like Mount Tabor or Rocky Butte, Talbert is an extinct volcanic relic, featuring rare native oak savannah and prairie meadow habitats, accessed by short and easy trails. Further reading: Search "mount talbert nature park" online. (CG)

HIKE: Saddle Mountain

Why go: This is nearly the tallest mountain in the Coast Range, which is kind of like being nearly the fastest kid at fat camp. But the Chinook Indians thought this was mankind's birthplace—we hatched from Thunderbird's egg at the summit. What to expect: A lot of elevation change, including a spectacularly steep climb to the summit. Kids and meek hikers will be fine going halfway; the second half of the hike is exposed and vertiginous. Further reading: 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland by Paul Gerald, or search "saddle mountain" online. (PFW)

BACKPACK: The Salmon River Trail

Why go: Riverside campgrounds are close enough to the trailhead to get to after work on Friday, but a mile of old-growth forest separates you from cell-phone service. What to expect: Lush undergrowth, large trees, moderate competition for camping spots. The Salmon River Trail connects with a larger network of trails around Mount Hood, so you can customize your loop to fit your blisters. Further reading: 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland by Paul Gerald. (PFW)

HIKE: Silver Falls

Why go: While we tend to take them for granted, the falls are every bit as beautiful as Travel Oregon would have you believe. What to expect: Ten waterfalls on one fairly easy 7-mile hike. Walking under the tallest, 178-foot South Falls, is a treasured memory of anyone who grew up in the Willamette Valley; 20 years on, it's still awesome. In addition to hiking, the park has campsites, cabins, horse trails and a surprisingly fun interpretive center. Further reading: (BW)

HIKE: Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area

Why go: Because you can spot huge owls, rare turtles, freight trains and jet planes—simultaneously! What to expect: This 205-acre wetland at the soggy edge of industrial North Portland is one of the coolest and most accessible natural areas in the city. The thriving waterfowl population and cleverly designed bird blinds draw herds of Homo binocularus to the easy, largely paved hiking trails, while a non-motorized boat launch provides instant aquatic access. Further reading: Search "smith and bybee lakes" online. (ZD)

HIKE: Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Why go: Because the only urban state park in Oregon pretty much captures everything awesome about Oregon. What to expect: Tryon Creek is wedged into a plunging, dramatic ravine surrounded by the semi-suburban wilds of Southwest Portland. While you're far more likely to get lost while driving to the park than hiking in it, 645 lushly forested, ferny and bemossed acres and multiple, looping hiking and horseback trails give you plenty of chances to forget you're surrounded by 2 million people. As a special bonus, the place is named after a yeoman pioneer named "Socrates Hotchkiss Tryon." Oregon! Further reading: (ZD)


BIKE CAMP: Alder Flat Campground

Why go: Beautiful and free. What to expect: Six tent sites with grills but no running water, 120 feet below Highway 224 on the Clackamas River. You can't drive to the campsite but you can bike there, so pack light and ride the 44 miles from the end of the MAX line in Gresham or park the car at the trailhead and backpack your gear down the hill. Further reading: (BW)

WOBBLE: Bike Polo at Alberta Park

Why go: You want the rowdy camaraderie of street hockey without having to get off your bike. What to expect: Portland's own Axles of Evil has been defending tournament titles for years. It now calls the tennis courts at Alberta Park home. Grab a helmet and a mallet—the showdown starts every Sunday at noon. Further reading: Search "portland bike polo" online. (CG)

MOUNTAIN BIKE: Black Rock, near Falls City

Why go: Black Rock is the epicenter of Oregon freeriding (biking with lots of jumps and obstacles), with bigger and better hucking (jumping) than anywhere in the state. Post-ride karaoke (Saturday nights) at the Boondocks Bar alone is worth the trip. Expect Merle Haggard, Elvis and Patty Loveless classics sung from the heart. What to expect: Towering stunts over forest ferns, expertly built jumps gapping roads and log bridges, feelings of inadequacy. Test your mettle on jumps of different sizes at the Basic Training area, then hike the 40 minutes to the top. Further reading: (PFW)

MOUNTAIN BIKE: L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

Why go: Support your local freeriders and single-track builders. This Buxton-area park will be the after-work ride of choice for folks on the west side, as soon as it's finished. What to expect: The trails at Stub Stewart will link intermediate stunts with custom-built descents. There's a mile and a half of ridable trails now, with more going this summer. Further reading: Search "stub stewart state park" online. (PFW)

MOUNTAIN BIKE: McKenzie River Trail

Why go: It's 28 miles long. It's almost completely flat. And it's the best trail in Oregon. As soon as you ride it, you understand. What to expect: Utter exhaustion. But also impossibly blue pools gushing from nowhere and plunging back underground, zippy forest trails descending imperceptibly and moss-covered lava rocks. You'll need food and lots of water. Further reading: (PFW)


Why go: Cyclocross season is only four months away. What to expect: Once a bike racing venue, St. Johns' Pier Park now gives cyclocross rookies the opportunity to practice off-road skills in privacy. Remnants of the original course weave in and out of the pines, making a loop around the park. Just remember to wear a helmet in case the disc golfers are out. Further reading: Search "pier park" online. (CG)

RIDE: Powell Butte

Why go: You want to get lost in the forest without leaving town. What to expect: If you're looking for fast, rolling single-track trails, Powell Butte may be the only spot within city limits that's got 'em. Put your mountain bike to the test, or try out some of the equestrian trails on a more traditional steed. Miles and miles of wilderness for bikes, horses and hikers will let you forget you never left the city. Further reading: (CG)

RIDE: River City Bicycles Mount Tabor Series

Why go: How often do you get the chance to race bikes on a volcano? What to expect: Every Wednesday evening in June and early July, bike racers in nine categories take over Mount Tabor Park. The course is fast and hilly—great practice in the event you'll ever need to outrun a volcano eruption on a bike. And the view isn't bad either. Further reading: (CG)

MOUNTAIN BIKE: Sandy Ridge Trails

Why go: An impeccably designed single track with banked corners and a great climbing-to-descending ratio. These trails are beloved by both the Spandex and body-armor crowds. What to expect: A 3-mile climb up a paved road drops into a trail that is experts-only if you ride it fast, and somewhat beginner-friendly if you take it slow. Further reading: Search "sandy ridge mountain biking" online, or (PFW)

MOUNTAIN BIKE: Surveyors Ridge Why go: Shin-thwapping leaves and flowers encroach on a narrow trail before riders pop out onto viewpoints for saying what up to Mount Hood. What to expect: An out-and-back ride with quick but somewhat ass-kicking climbs, steep drop-offs on either side and gorgeous views of the mountain. Further reading: Search "surveyors ridge trail 688" online. (PFW)


Why go: Forty-five minutes of downhill pedaling, from the top of the gorge (the Washington side) all the way down to river level. Some sections feel like downhill bombing runs, others like flow-trails. Once you're at the top, it's all reward on the way back down. What to expect: These trails have everything, from world-class views of the Columbia Gorge going by at warp speed to technical rock gardens and screaming fast descents. Further reading: Search "mountain bike syncline" online. (PFW)

MOUNTAIN BIKE: The Scappoose Trails

Why go: The same reason you dated that boy down the hall in college. It's single (track) and it's convenient. What to expect: User-built trails snaking around, sometimes randomly, in the forest. The routes are built around a fire road down the center and pop on and off this track every few hundred yards. Further reading: KISSING THE TRAIL: NW and Central Oregon Mountain Bike Trails by John Zilly, second edition. (PFW)


RAFT: Clackamas River

Why go: You may have skippered the lower section with an inflatable mattress and a case of beer, but the upper section is known for legitimate rapids and waves at Bob's Hole and Carter Bridge. What to expect: Cold water curling into Class III rapids. If you're not already a whitewater person, you'll want a guide. Further reading: (PFW)

SWIM: Dougan Falls

Why go: The most picturesque swimming hole in the Northwest. What to expect: A 100-foot-wide waterfall pouring into a deep, chilly pool, perfect for summer swimming. From Vancouver, go 26 miles east on Washington State Route 14 to Salmon Falls Road. Turn left and go 3 miles. Turn right on Washougal River Road. Travel 5 miles and when the pavement ends, you're there. Further reading: (BW)

BIRDWATCH: Government Island

Why go: This state recreation area, accessible only by boat, is home to, like, a gajillion endangered birds. What to expect: Only the north shore of Government Island is open to the public—the interior is leased by a cattle rancher—and you'll have to paddle there. Put in at Chinook Landing in Fairview. Take binoculars, fishing pole and a tent; primitive camping is free. Further reading: Oregon State Parks by Jan Bannan. (BW)

PADDLE: Ross Island

Why go: You need some peace and quiet in the city. What to expect: While Ross Island is a pathetic shell of the land that existed before the Pamplin family dug its heart out, the island is still beautiful. For a leisurely, two-to-three-hour circumnavigation with views of its great blue heron rookery and the downtown skyline, put in and take out at Sellwood Waterfront Park. Further reading: (BW)

Raft: Sandy River

Why go: Slacker rafting on the lower section belies the run from Revenue Bridge to Oxbow Park just upriver that will soak your swimsuit one way or another. What to expect: Scenic river bends, old-growth forest, Class II+ rapids and (sometimes) river otters flirting with each paddle stroke. Further reading: Soggy Sneakers by Pete Giordano. (PFW)

CANOE: Santiam to the Willamette

Why go: You'd like to paddle the North Santiam, but would rather not drown. What to expect: An easy, fairly short paddle through gorgeous farm country. Put in at the boat ramp under the bridge in Jefferson, one mile east of exit 238 on I-5. Paddle 10 miles west to join the Willamette River and take out at Buena Vista County Park. Stop by the Wings of Wonder butterfly exhibit in Independence before heading home. Further reading: Search "santiam river marion county" online. (BW)

SWIM: Sellwood PoolWhy go: To celebrate a century of swimming. What to expect: An oval outdoor pool (7951 SE 7th Ave., 823-3679) built in 1910, with a gorgeous poolhouse and a whole lotta kiddies splashing about. It's not the best place to swim in the city (that's Mount Scott Community Center), but it's definitely the best place to swim alfresco. Further reading: (BW)

Stand-up paddle: The Willamette

Why go: Stand-up paddle, which is exactly what it sounds like, is the biggest trend in surfing since board shorts and is perfect for the lakes and rivers around Oregon. Just because the water's not salty doesn't mean you can't take your board. What to expect: Smooth, person-powered fun on placid waters and a workout for your "balance" muscles. Paddle around Ross Island to retrace the route of the summer SUP race series. Further reading: (PFW)


TOSS: Bocce at Leisure Public House

Why go: Bocce is better with beer. What to expect: The best bar in St. Johns is rightly renowned for its leafy back patio, the centerpiece of which is a short but well-cared-for bocce court. Fact: Holding a pint of IPA helps balance your throwing arm. Further reading: (BW)

SKIP ROCKS: Elk Rock Island

Why go: Because Ross Island is too polluted to make a good hangout. What to expect: A 13-acre isle—the scant remains of a 40-million-year-old volcano—that juts into the Willamette from Milwaukie. In late summer you can walk across a land bridge from Spring Park Natural Area to pick berries and watch the birds. Further reading: Search "elk rock island" online. (BW)

WEEKEND: Fort Stevens State Park

Why go: Oregon's northernmost point has it all—bike and foot trails, beaches, birdwatching, boating, dunes, a museum, a shipwreck and sweet Civil War-era fortifications. What to expect: Oregon's third-largest state park is about 10 miles west of Astoria on Highway 104, encompassing 3,763 acres of woods, beaches and the fort itself. Make a weekend of it—stay at the Officer's Inn in Hammond, bike the trails and watch the sun set over the wreck of the Peter Iredale. Further reading: (BW)

PUTT: Heron Lakes Golf Club

Why go: Amazing views, resident herons and a little golf (3500 N Victory Blvd.). What to expect: Portland's best golf value, with two courses (Great Blue and Greenback) and so many birds that the club must employ dogs to chase off the geese. Play through a late summer evening to see the course at its best. Further reading: (BW)

WATCH: Movies in the Park

Why go: Twilight: New Moon is best watched on the big screen, in a public forum where you can heckle (June 26). What to expect: Portland Parks and Recreation continues the tradition of showing popular films all summer long. Bring a blanket and get to the park early—the pre-show entertainment starts at 6:30 pm and the movie begins at dark. Check the schedule to make sure you don't end up at the wrong park, or at Pretty in Pink (July 30) instead of Transformers (July 17). Further reading: (CG)

U-PICK: Sauvie Island

Why go: Fresh fruit, fresh air, dirt-cheap prices. What to expect: You've done this before; if you haven't, you must. Spending a Saturday morning doing the work of day laborers, getting your pristine Keens caked with dust and burning your neck a fierce crimson is a tiny price to pay for the luxury of sitting on the couch all afternoon gobbling strawberries and prosecco. Bring your own bucket. Further reading: (BW)

WATCH: Spouting Horn

Why go: Water goes whoosh! What to expect: Three miles south of Yachats, the ocean gets weird. A collapsed sea cave funnels waves many yards inland, where they burst upward in a salty geyser, sometimes as much as 20 feet in the air. I could stand at the overlook for hours, getting slowly soaked with sea spray. You can camp nearby at Cape Perpetua. Further reading: Search "spouting horn yachats" online. (BW)

WATCH: Top Down Rooftop Cinema

Why go: Beer, food and great movies under the stars. What to expect: The Northwest Film Center's annual outdoor series takes over the roof of the Hotel deLuxe parking garage (1508 SW Yamhill St.) every Thursday from July 22 through Aug. 26 to show great flicks in the open air. The series kicks off with Alfred Hitchcock's silent Blackmail with a live orchestra. Further reading: (BW)

THWACK: Portland Tennis Center

Why go: The outdoor courts (324 NE 12th Ave.) are just $12 per day. What to expect: Eight outdoor courts, which were spruced up in 2009, are open from 6 am to 10 pm. If you're aching to play somewhere that doesn't reek of old socks, now's the time. Further reading: (BW)

Outdoor Events

June 19-20: NW Pride Festival

Pride has been celebrating queer culture in Portland for 40 years. This year's festival includes music performances, a pet parade, a "drag race" and all the excuses you could need to spend a whole week sozzled. Tom McCall Waterfront Park and other locations, Free, but donations are accepted.

July 4: Foot Traffic Flat: Sauvie Island

Commencing at the Pumpkin Patch, runners can choose to run either the half-marathon or the marathon on the very flat island. Visit one of the beaches afterward and enjoy strawberry shortcake made from island-grown fruit. Pumpkin Patch, 16511 NW Gillihan Road,, 6:30 am Sunday, $30-$100.

July 9-11: Portland Historic Races

More than 250 historic race cars are pushed to high speeds at this event. You'll also find around 700 hot rods and collector cars. 1940 N Victory Blvd., Friday-Sunday. $10-$40.

July 17: Portland Highland Games

Scottish festivities that include, you guessed it, bagpipe and fiddle performances teem on a day of tartan kilt reveling. Mount Hood Community College, 26000 SE Stark St., Gresham, Saturday and Sunday. 8 am-5:30 pm Saturday. $5-$20.

July 24-Aug. 7: PDX Bridge Festival

This newly minted fest aims to keep Portlanders aware of the 10 Willamette River bridges with events like Brunch on the Bridge, which turns the Hawthorne Bridge's center lane into a giant picnic space; art installations and a free concert on the Eastbank Esplanade; and a multimedia celebration of the city projected onto a screen stretched across the entire center span of the Hawthorne Bridge. Various times and locations, July 24-Aug. 7. Free.

Aug. 14: Portland Adult Soapbox Derby

With a mission "to stay young, yet not so young," this bone-rattling race down Mount Tabor pushes for ingenuity by allowing participants to spend only $300 on their soapbox cars, some of which reach 35 mph in the terrifying descent. Southeast 60th Avenue and Salmon Street, 10 am-4 pm Saturday. Free to watch.

Aug. 16-20: Paddle Oregon

Canoe or kayak during the day and camp in the evening for this five-day paddle excursion. A nightly speaker discusses environmental issues at camp and meals are catered. Paddling begins at Marshall Island access, just north of Eugene. $545-$620.

Aug. 19-22: RiverFest

A family-friendly event focused on the Willamette River. The festival includes art events, Sam Adams, live music, a Portland Trail Blazers basketball clinic and opportunities to get on the water by boat. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Most events are free.

Aug. 22: Freshwater Trust Triathlon

Bike and run through downtown and swim in the Willamette River, all for the sake of keeping rivers and streams healthy in Oregon. Tom McCall Waterfront Park between Southwest Madison and Clay streets, $65-$185. 13+.

Compiled by Roxanne MacManus

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