What’s to Love: 1000+ acres of no-feepublic trails, mud holes, bird blinds, beach access (Columbia & Sandy Rivers), and HUGE open fields for your dog to be off-leash! There are only two areas where dogs must be on-leash (Confluence Trail and the parking area). Otherwise, your dogs can experience a tremendous amount of freedom running free with other dogs and having a great time in what feels like a wilderness setting.
I believe this is the largest off-leash area for dogs in the Portland area. We’ve found that our dog is more difficult to handle around other dogs while leashed. When we take her off the leash, she does much better with other dogs. While I’m sure there are problems with off-leash dogs, we experienced nothing but friendly dogs and owners the entire 3 hours we were in the Delta. If you haven’t taken your dogs, you’ll want to soon. We’ll definitely go back soon. The park is the perfect combination of open fields, trails, mud, and water for a dog to go wild.
For the most part, I thought the whole area was clean. However, there are definitely sections that are disturbingly misused – broken glass, trash strewn all over, homeless camps, etc. If you get a bit off the beaten path, you will inevitably (and regrettably) witness much of the same. Despite these eye sore sections, I mainly witnessed responsible and friendly dog owners having a pleasant afternoon.
I believe the forest service is in the middle of redoing the entire parking area. They have built (what looks like) a brand new bathroom in the parking area with some newer signs and maps. Currently (4/22/2012), the parking area is rough gravel with pot holes and construction signs/equipment. I think this will be a really nice parking area when they’ve completed their work.
I’m sure this entire area gets overcrowded with people and dogs on hot summer weekends. We will probably keep to the weekdays to avoid large crowds. Even though it’s a big area, many people have the rivers as a common destination. Please do your best to clean up after your dog and be responsible with your own trash. Let’s keep this place a worthy destination for pet lovers.
Distance from Portland: Depending on traffic, this is a relatively quick excursion from Portland. Exit 18 (Troutdale) on 84 East. Here is a Google Map.
Recommended Ages: All ages! This is a great place for the entire family. I can see this working with small children up through teens and beyond.
Parental Stress Factor: Somewhat stressful depending on your experience with dogs and owners. I’m a bit nervous with my kids around off-leash dogs. During the day, dogs jumped up on my kids a couple of times, but everyone handled it well, including the kids. Despite the laid back feel of the Delta, I would always keep a close eye on my kids around all the dogs.
Physical Difficulty: The entire area is flat and the hiking is easy. There are washes filled with water and/or sand that make hiking a bit slow at times. The Confluence Trail is a hard packed trail that is considered handicap accessible according to “Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge.” This book also gives a good description of the trails, access issues, and directions from Portland.
Family Fun Factor: Fun factor is high if you’re a dog family. Great time hanging out with dogs in such a friendly and open environment. Bring along your favorite dog toys, Frisbee, and mountain bikes to increase the fun. Horses are also allowed inside the Delta.
Pet Friendly: Let’s see….YES!!! This is by far the best place I’ve seen to take your pet in the Portland area.
Weather Considerations: Open year round!
Insider Info: Make sure to check-0ut the map link of the Delta. My suggestion is to print the map and bring it with you. While the forest service has put in some newer signs, we never knew where we were and when we’d ask people, they seemed as lost as us!
Mountain bikes are a good idea and allowed on the trails. There are no motor vehicles allowed inside the park.
I was quite surprised that horses were allowed in the park. I didn’t think horses would be a good mix with off-leash dogs, but I witnessed horses and dogs peacefully sharing the same trails. People were very considerate and moved their dogs off the side of the trail while horses came through.
You’ll definitely want to bring a child carrier for smaller kids. For babies and toddlers, you’ll want to carry them due to jumping dogs. Older kids will most likely be fine in a jogging stroller, which we wished we would have brought for our 3-year old.
To get to the river and back, you’re looking at least a 1 mile hike. Make sure you’re prepared with sunscreen, snacks, and anything else you might need. If you explore, the hike can easily develop into 2+ miles – it’s a big area.
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Walton Beach - Sauvie Island on July 8th, 2010
Vancouver Lake Park on August 15th, 2013
Henry Hagg Lake on August 2nd, 2010