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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Family Mountain Biking

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What’s to Love:  Before I get started with my usual format, I want to apologize for the lack of photographs.  It was raining pretty hard for our entire ride, and the camera batteries died right when we were getting started. Hopefully, I’ll get some additional photos soon! Despite that, the “EasyClimb Trail” in Cascade Locks is the perfect outing for parents who want to mountain bike with their kids. The two mile loop features a little bit of everything, EXCEPT hill climbs! There is ample parking, no fees, and plenty of signage – it’s almost impossible to get lost. I’m convinced this is the #1 option for mountain biking with young kids…period. If you think there is a better option, I’d love to hear about it. Get your kids the best shoes to run and ride. Check out this review at RunnerClick.com.

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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

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Ridgefield Wildlife RefugeWhat’s to Love:  As stated on their website, “The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established (along with 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley of Oregon) in 1965, in response to a need to establish vital winter habitat for wintering waterfowl with an emphasis on the dusky Canada goose whose nesting areas in Alaska were severely impacted by the violent earthquake of 1964. Ridgefield Refuge is currently approximately 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands.” This Refuge is a must do for young hikers who might enjoy bird watching.

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Milo McIver State Park

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Milo McIver State ParkWhat’s to Love:  Milo McIver State Park is located along the Clackamas River and is only about 30 miles from Portland. For being so close to Portland, it has an “off-the-beaten-path” feel to it. There are some nice picnic areas with grills and plenty of camping, but it’s the disc golf (27 holes) that makes the park a prime destination for the whole family.

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Hardesty Trail Loop Hike

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Hardesty Trail Forest ParkWhat’s to Love:  Although it’s our rainy season here in Portland, I encourage all of my readers to get out with your kids for a family hike. The winter is actually a great time for hiking, but you’ll need to be prepared for slippery conditions, lots of mud, rain, and wind. Forest Park offers many options, but I think you’ll find this little gem one of the better options for kids. Also, check out this review of hiking backpacks from thegearhunt.com.

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Government Cove Peninsula

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Government CoveWhat’s to Love:  I know I’ve been a bit heavy on climbing destinations lately, but Government Cove is a little gem that provides more than rock climbing, scrambling, and bouldering.  This is a relatively undeveloped location (i.e., no fees, no restrooms, no water, no parking area, etc.). Despite that fact, the entire area was very clean with some nice paved and unpaved trails for hiking and biking.

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Sandy River Delta: Got Dog?

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Sandy River Delta ParkWhat’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.

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Family Getaway – Garibaldi, Oregon

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Jeff Hunter – Manager, Harborview Inn

Jeff Hunter manages the Harborview Inn in Garibaldi, Oregon.  He was kind enough to send Portland Family Adventures an invitation to do some crabbing right off the local pier. Since I’ve never crabbed in my life, we decided to take the whole family for a quick day trip.  We spent a few hours in Garibaldi hoping to catch some crab, checking out the sights, and eating fish and chips at the highly recommended “Fisherman’s Korner.”  Jeff is enthusiastic about the area and all it has to offer families.  After visiting, I share his enthusiasm and want to pass along a quick interview.

 

 

 

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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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Jackson Bottom Wetlands

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is just outside downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s a nice location for hiking with younger children and viewing birds/wildlife. There is a beautiful Education Center with a gift shop and exhibit hall.

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Wapato Access Greenway

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Wapato Access GreenwayWhat’s to Love:  Don’t know exactly what it is about Sauvie Island, but every time I go, I feel like I’m on vacation.  I think it has something to due with the fact that when I’m there, I actually feel like I’m getting away from some of the inevitable craziness of living in a big city.  Windy country roads, farms, bike riders, pleasant hikes, beach, etc. – it all feels like a dream some days.  Some of my favorite stops are on the island and the Wapato Access Greenway (State Park system) is a worthy diversion from the more common destinations.

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Henry Hagg Lake

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Henry Hagg LakeWhat’s to Love:  I’ve lived in Portland since 1999, and this was my first trip to Henry Hagg Lake.  I was always concerned that it would just be a big scene with jet skis, motor boats, and a bunch of yahoos throwing trash all over the place.  I was definitely wrong and we had a lovely time.  I found the entire recreation area clean and a bargain at $5.00 for a pass.  The lake offered up a fairly secluded beach with warm water for swimming and a bunch of activities for the whole family.

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Leach Botanical Gardens

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What’s to Love:  Leach Botanical Garden’s mission “…is to maintain and enhance living collections of plants for the purpose of education, research and conservation and to preserve the legacy of the Gardens founders, John and Lilla Leach. The Garden is committed to providing positive experiences to the diverse community upon which it relies for support” (source). 

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Smith & Bybee Wetlands

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What’s to Love:  Despite being sandwiched-in between some nasty industrial businesses, Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is an excellent family-biking destination with several options for family fun.  You may just need to hold your breath every now and then.

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Opal Creek – Family Workshops

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Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center is a beautiful nature preserve about 2 hours from Portland. The Center hosts a plethora of educational programs for families.

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Commonwealth Lake Park

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Beautiful dock at Commonwealth Lake  ParkWhat’s to Love:  What’s to love? How about my first “highlight video!” Wooohooo! I can’t believe I actually got this up and running finally. You’ll see most of my new posts with a short video clip. Anyway…Commonwealth Lake Park…hmmmm…weird place, I must admit. However, I don’t mean that in a negative way. As far as parks go, let’s just say it’s somewhat unique. Basically, it’s a man-made lake surrounded by an upper-middle-class neighborhood.

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Tualatin Hills Nature Park

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What’s to Love: Tualatin Hills Nature Park (THNP) can seem like Nike’s trail running course – it’s literally in the company’s backyard. I’m usually a bit leery of a “Nature Park” in the middle of a giant suburb. However, our visit to Tualatin Hills Nature Park was perfect! The weather was fantastic, the trails were immaculate, the biking was fun and just right for a 4 year old without training wheels, and the picnic area was relaxing and quiet. I invite your comments on this wonderful park. Read more…NOTE: Just visited again on March 5 – hadn’t been there for a couple of years, and it’s still awesome!

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Springbrook Park/Uplands Elementary

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Play structure at Uplands Elementary PlaygroundWhat’s to Love: My son and I stumbled upon this little gem while touring (outer) SW parks and playgrounds. We were headed to see “Springbrook Park,” but ended up pulling into Uplands Elementary School. We were pleasantly surprised by the awesome playground structures (see pictures). Lucky for us, there were two trailheads at opposite ends of the playground that led directly into Springbrook Park.

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Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge

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Sign for Tualatin River National Wildlife RefugeWhat’s to Love: Right off the very busy highway 99W in Sherwood, OR is a very pleasant surprise. The first thing you’ll notice when pulling into the Refuge is the beautiful new interpretive center. The interpretive center houses exhibits, restrooms, a small gift shop, a spotting scope, and some very helpful and friendly volunteers. Because of traffic, getting to this place can be a real pain, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

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Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge – Hiking Loop

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What’s to Love: A great 2 mile loop-hike right in the heart of the Westmoreland area, and right in the heart of a beautiful Wildlife Refuge. Many hard-working people have transformed this entire wetland into a wonderful destination for hiking, biking, bird watching and exploring. For the most part, it is now very clean and safe. Historically, that has not always been the case (see Caveats).

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