Butte Creek Falls

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IMG_2280What’s to Love: By far the best waterfall swimming I’ve had in Oregon period. It’s off the beaten path a bit, but it’s a lovely drive through Oregon farm country and only about an hour from downtown Portland. It’s the type of place you want to keep a secret, but since it was already published in Portland Monthly (and other publications), I thought I’d join the club.

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Lacamas Lake Regional Park

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Lacamas Park TrailWhat’s to Love:  This 312 acre park within a mile of downtown Camas, WA offers many recreational opportunities including: bird watching, hiking, fishing, and mountain biking. We spent most of our time mountain biking the Lacamas Park Trail, which offers around six miles of trails and does a loop around Round Lake. There is also the Lacamas Heritage Trail, which is a 3.5 mile trail along the west side of Lacamas Lake.

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Washougal River Access

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Washougal River - Near Dougan Creek FallsWhat’s to Love:  I was looking for the perfect swimming hole on our way back from a bouldering adventure in Washington.  Our plan was to check-out Dougan Creek Falls, which looks visually stunning and lots of fun. However, on our way to the falls, another access point (about 1 mile short of the falls) caught my eye while rounding a curve.

After noticing this beautiful spot, we parked at a pullout along the Washougal River (literally 30 seconds down a steep bank), and I could hardly believe my eyes!  This spot (see distance from Portland below) on the Washougal is one of the nicest river access points I’ve ever seen in my life.  Perfect for the whole family!

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Hiking Angel’s Rest

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Angel's Rest Columbia River GorgeWhat’s to Love:  Since moving here to Portland in 1999, my wife and I have hiked Angel’s Rest too many times to count.  To this day, it remains one or our favorite hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, and it’s one of the first hikes when entering the Gorge from Portland. While we carried our oldest son up the hike when he was younger, this was our first visit to hike the entire 4.8 miles (round trip) with both kids.

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Wahclella Falls

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Wahclella FallsWhat’s to Love:  In my opinion, Wahclella is the Columbia River Gorge’s most beautiful waterfall.  I realize that’s a pretty bold claim considering all the great waterfalls.  However, Wahclella’s massive canyon walls filled with lush-green vegetation will make you think you’re in Hawaii, and it’s only 40 minutes from downtown Portland.  Spend the day, half a day, or even a couple hours, and you too will become a believer.

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Oneonta Falls (Middle)

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Oneonta FallsWhat’s to Love: Adventurous parents will love this hike – it offers a bit of excitement with some stiff climbs (short), steep drops (careful! No barrier), but it’s still pretty safe for most kid-hikers. At 2.7 miles round trip, the distance on this hike is just right for most family members. Plus, there are many options, if things don’t work out with the longer hike.

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Latourell Falls

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What’s to Love: An easy 2.3 mile loop brings you past two picture-perfect waterfalls (lower and upper) with viewing bridges at each spot giving you a close-up view. On the return portion of the hike there is a spectacular viewing area that gives a great view of Rooster Rock and the Gorge. The hiking length is just right for a family outing, and the terrain is adventurous but never risky or questionable. The best part about this hike is that it’s the closest waterfall-hike to Portland. There is also a picnic area on the return trip.

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Tamanawas Falls

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What’s to Love: The hike to Tamanawas Falls is a relatively short (3.8 miles round trip) and easy hike, and the reward is a striking waterfall in a beautiful, amphitheater-like setting. There are several bridges to cross, and your kids will get a kick out of crossing them. As you get close to the falls, you’ll have to walk through a large rock/scree slide, which my son loved! This was one of the best parts of the hike for us.

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