Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park

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IMG_0508What’s to Love:   This is an update to the original Lumberyard article published in May of 2012. In our first article, this awesome indoor bike park wasn’t even officially open. We were some of the first outsiders they let in to preview the terrain. As I stated back then, I was completely awestruck by the genius of the entire place. With the bike culture in Portland, I knew this business would serve the community for a long time. Well into the second year, we took another look, and it remains a place that tests the skills of everyone from toddlers on push bikes to the most advanced mountain bike, free-ride, and BMX riders. If you haven’t been to the Lumberyard, I urge you to check-it-out!

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Rocky Butte – Joseph Wood Hill Park

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Rocky Butte - Joseph Wood Hill ParkWhat’s to Love:  I’ve explored the rock climbing area up at Rocky Butte many times.  I’ve been turned off by the trash and noise from highway 205, which runs underneath the bluff.  The climbing itself looks pretty good and worth a shot.  I’ll give that a try this summer with the kids.  This trip, I was interested in exploring the structure on the summit of Rocky Butte, which I’ve heard offers excellent bouldering.

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Holly Farm Park

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Holly Farm ParkWhat’s to Love:  Holly Farm Park is a lovely park right off Capitol Highway in SW Portland.  While next to a busy road, this small park has a nice vibe and a strong community feel.  It’s well kept with a relatively large lawn, newer play structure, paved paths, and a very cool mini-skate-park.

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Mosier Tunnels

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Mosier TunnelsWhat’s to Love:  The Mosier Tunnels are locate just outside Mosier, Oregon and are a couple of exits east of Hood River, Oregon.  Located high up on bluff, they are part of what used to be the old Columbia Gorge highway.  This roadway is now closed to cars for an impressive 4.7 miles, which will bring you all the way back to Hood River.  This is a perfect destination for a family bike ride, especially when combined with so many other destinations nearby. 

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Marine Drive Bike Path

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Marine Drive Bike PathWhat’s to Love:  The weather is getting nice!  If you’re looking for a relatively-flat, straight, paved, bike path for a nice family cruise, the Marine Drive section of Portland’s “40 Mile Loop Trail” is a good option.  The roughly 12+ miles of paved path parallels Marine Drive in North Portland, right alongside the Columbia River.  

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Great Adventure Book!

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As adventure-loving-parents, you must become familiar with Portland’s very own Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie.  I can’t believe I just read my first book by Kurmaskie (Mud, Sweat, and Gears).  Where have I been?  I rarely do this on the site, but I want to encourage you all to order his book as soon as possible!  If you PayPal him directly at: mtcowboy@teleport.com, he’ll give you free shipping and the book for only $20!  That’s an incredible deal!

This book will inspire you to get up, get out, and have even MORE fun with your family.  His wife’s footnotes add to the outrageous, (at times) self-deprecating, bust-out-loud-laughing-humor.  I couldn’t put the book down, and I still can barely believe that any family has enough guts (or whatever you want to call it) to do what they did.  How did I finally stumble into the Kurmaskie circle?

There I was at a Portland biking event (Expo Center) with my two kids.  I was telling one of the event’s sponsors about my Portland Family Adventure website.  I went off on how the site has propelled me into travel writing, and how I’ve been able to have so many exciting adventures with my family.  The sponsor listened politely.  When I finished, he said, “That sounds great, but you gotta go check-out that dude over there – calls himself the Metal Cowboy.”

I quickly answered back, “Oh yeah, what’s so great about the Metal Cowboy.”  Actually, I didn’t really say that, but I was thinking it.  I was also thinking, “Metal Cowboy?”

The sponsor said, and I could barely believe what I was hearing, “That guy pedaled 4000 miles across Canada with his wife and 3 kids!”  What?  I made him repeat it to me again.  Yep…same thing I thought I heard the first time.  Wow…I had to go meet this guy.  Mud, Sweat, and Gears chronicles this amazing journey.  While bikes certainly make the story impressive, it’s really about how adventure can pull a family together.

So, I did finally make my way over to meet Joe Kurmaskie.  He is an engaging guy, which clearly stands out in his writing.  In a short conversation, I learned that he has written several books, biked across African nations, the Australian Outback, and across the USA with his sons and his father’s ashes.  I stood there in disbelief.  Really?  I had about a million questions I wanted to ask him, but he seemed more interested in my own kids, and listening to a story I told about my son Rhys riding Pedalpalooza when he was 3 1/2.  What a day…

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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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Car Free in Portland!

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Due to the popularity of my post “Tips for Biking with Kids,” I thought I’d do a follow-up that focuses on a family living without a car in Portland…by choice!  If you’re a family thinking about making a similar lifestyle change, or you’re simply interested in how a family can possibly live without a car, read-on and get inspired.

In October 2006, Michael Downes and Wendy Ashton moved to Portland, Oregon with their son Nathan Downes after living in Pasadena, California for 10 years. 

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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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Tips for Biking with Kids

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Fanno Creek TrailIntroduction: You are a true Portlander, right?  Let me ask you, are you ready to start biking with your kids?  It’s one of the first things I noticed with our first child – in Portland so many parents share their love for biking with their children.  If you’re feeling a bit of trepidation, I’d like to share some of advice – advice gleaned NOT from reading a bunch of biking websites, product brochures, listening to expert testimony, sales representatives, or even using common sense!  Rather, this advice comes from putting hundreds and hundreds of miles on my bike with my son.  Hopefully, this advice will get you up and pedaling with your kids.

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Powell Butte – Mountain Biking

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View from Parking Area of Powell ButteWhat’s to Love: I moved to Portland from one of the best mountain biking cities in the country – Durango, Colorado. I used to ride endless single-track right from my doorstep, and I lived just blocks from downtown. I miss the Durango sunshine, but I miss the epic mountain bike rides the most. Within the city limits of Portland, Powell Butte is the best cure for “single track fever.”

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Memorial Park – Wilsonville

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Open green-space with paved-paths at Memorial Park Wilsonville, OregonWhat’s to Love: I visited this park twice with my son in June, 2008, and I know we’ll be back again soon.  I was looking for a park with plenty of open green-space to launch our model rocket (see video below).  I noticed that Memorial Park looked like the biggest park in the Wilsonville area, so we headed over to check it out. I don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked by the quality and design of a park.  I highly recommend visiting this park!

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Leif Erikson Drive

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Leif Erikson Drive in Forest ParkWhat’s to Love: How many cities can claim an 11-mile stretch of dirt road closed to motorized vehicles that is located within a protected, urban forest? In that same forest, lies a 30 mile hiking trail called the “Wildwood” that sports a healthy amount of peripheral trails and loop-hikes. Well, if you live in Portland, Oregon, you’re incredibly lucky to have this amazing recreational resource called “Forest Park.” Leif Erikson Drive is the 11 mile stretch of dirt road running through the heart of Forest Park. It’s just a small piece of the Forest Park puzzle, but it definitely warrants its own post on Portland Family Adventures.

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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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George Rogers Park

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Beautiful picnic areas at George Rogers ParkWhat’s to Love: George Rogers Park is located on the south side of downtown Lake Oswego. If you live in Portland, it’s worth the drive. This is definitely a “destination park” featuring hiking and biking trails, an easy-to-find Letterbox, an interesting historical past, a decent beach, tennis courts, big baseball field, and some of the nicest picnic benches and grills you’ll find in a park setting.

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Terwilliger Bike Path

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Going downhill on the Terwilliger Bike PathWhat’s to Love: The Terwilliger bike path is (Chart House Restaurant toward downtown) a fun downhill ride for kids just getting used to their bikes. The path is totally separated from the road, which adds an element of safety. There are only a couple of uphill (slight) sections – besides that, this ride is all downhill.

Heading south from the Chart House/OHSU toward Capital Highway, Barbur Blvd, Tryon Creek and finally, Lake Osweo, this ride is a semi-epic journey for young bike riders!  Besides a small section between Boones Ferry and Capital Highway, you’ll be on a wide, paved path the entire route to Lake Oswego.

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Willamette Park

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New Play Structure at Willamette ParkWhat’s to Love: Willamette Park sports a healthy variety of activities for the whole family. I found the entire area to be well-kept and clean. Recently, park personnel installed a new play structure, which was badly needed. As you can see in one of the pictures, it has a low-to-the-ground set of monkey bars, which is a nice find in Portland. However, For those of you who like old-school-playground-equipment (e.g., metal slides, teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, etc.), don’t worry, they kept the old playground equipment down at the south end of the park. The new structure isn’t very big, but it’s adequate.

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Springwater Corridor/Eastbank Esplanade

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Heading North on the Springwater TrailWhat’s to Love: This is one of the best and most accessible bike paths within a short distance from downtown Portland. The Springwater Corridor trail “…is the major southeast segment of the 40-Mile Loop which was inspired by the 1903 Olmsted plan of a parkway and boulevard loop to connect park sites. The eventual developed trail will be over 21 miles long” (source). If you’re a southeast Portland resident, you’re probably very familiar with biking along this trail. Whether it’s making your way to the Sellwood Bridge, Oaks Amusement Park, OMSI or downtown Portland, this is your ticket to a great family ride.

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Abernethy – Playground

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What’s to Love: This is the playground of Abernethy school, which is located in the heart of Ladd’s Addition. This is a very nice, family friendly place in Portland. Although the houses are out of range for most people, the neighborhood has a good, down-to-earth vibe. There are two very nice play structures – one for toddlers and a second for older kids. Both offer some excellent options to improve motor skills, sharpen footwork, and build strong bodies. They are very clean, safe (relatively speaking) and well kept.

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