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.

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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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Orchard Park – Hillsboro

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Orchard Park - Hillsboro, ORWhat’s to Love:  If your family is into disc golf, the 21 acre Orchard Park is worth the drive to Hillsboro.  The park has a VERY nice 3-par, 9-hole course with a paved path winding throughout the length of the course.  The paved path makes a 1/2 mile loop, which is a decent length for beginning bikers or kids on scooters.  

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The Source Climbing Center – Vancouver, WA

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The Source Climbing CenterWhat’s to Love:  For climbers, especially with kids, it doesn’t get much better than here in the Portland area.  We have some world-class bouldering and climbing gyms all within a 15 mile radius of downtown Portland.  Opening November of 2011, The Source Climbing Center in downtown Vancouver, WA is the latest addition to the climbing community.  Beautifully designed, The Source was built from scratch and offers a totally separate area for young children and beginners interested in climbing.

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Chehalem Skate Park, Newberg, OR

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Cheahalem Skate Park, Newberg, OregonWhat’s to Love:  When I purchased my son his new skateboard for his 8th birthday, the owner of a local skate shop was enthusiastic about the Newberg skate park, especially for kids.  Basically, it was everything he said it was and more!  This is the nicest skate park I’ve ever seen in my life, and while the official name is the “Chehalem Skate Park,” most people refer to it as the Newberg Skate Park.

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Dabney State Park

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Dabney State ParkWhat’s to Love:  An overcrowded beach along the Sandy River filled with people throwing cigarette butts, trash, and being obnoxiously loud and rude?  Is that the Dabney State Park you know and love?  My expectations were pretty low going in, especially on a busy summer weekend.  However, similar to Oxbow State Park, the rangers and clean-up crew do an excellent job of keeping Dabney clean, under control, and a great place for families. 

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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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Pier Park: Disc Golf, Skateboarding and Swimming

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Pier Park is yet another excellent North Portland Park featuring an challenging 18-hold disc golf course, an outdoor skate park, and an outdoor pool! This destination park has a little bit of everything for the whole family. If you have yet to visit, I suggest heading up to St. Johns before the rainy season hits in North Portland.

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Black Butte Ranch

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Black Butte Ranch is a family resort located 8 miles outside Sisters, Oregon. There are a myriad of activities for the whole family including golf, swimming pools, bike trails and rentals, tennis, spa, fitness classes, and much much more.

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Horning’s Hideout

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Horning’s Hideout is one of the best places to take kids fishing. They have rental gear available and it’s very inexpensive. The property also has some killer disc/frisbee golf and summer music concerts.

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Visiting The Dalles, OR

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The Dalles, Oregon is located on the east end of the Columbia River Gorge right off highway 84. There are several excellent Museums including Maryhill Museum and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. There is a 9 mile, paved, bike path along the river from the Discovery Center all the way to the Dalles Dam. Portland Family Adventures recommends staying at Cousins Country Inn and eating at Cousins Restaurant.

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Fanno Creek Trail (Update)

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Fanno Creek TrailWhat’s to Love: (2012) Since first publishing this article, the major sections of the Fanno Creek Trail have been connected.  You can read more about this here.  Also, take a look at the new trail map here.

After living here for the past 9 years and being an avid city biker, I can honestly say that Portland does deserve its reputation as one of the best biking cities in the country, if not the world. However, the more I start to bike with my 4 year old son, the more I realize that much of the best kid-friendly-biking exists outside the city limits. Sorry Portland, but the network of paved paths within the Tualatin Hills Recreation District rivals anything within Portland proper. Certainly, Vancouver, WA is also providing an impressive array of biking paths for its young bikers and families.

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Champoeg State Park

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What’s to Love: If you want to experience some great biking on safe, paved-paths, or play 15 holes of frisbee golf, then by all means head to Champoeg State Park. It’s well worth the 30 mile drive from Portland, even with gas being $4+ per gallon. It is also the perfect destination for a family camping trip, especially for first timers.

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