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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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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Horsethief Lake State Park

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Horsethief ButteWhat’s to Love:  Horsethief Lake State Park and Horsethief Butte provide a nice one-two-punch for a full-day family outing.  Located about 90 miles east (via WA 14 or OR 84), you might try these two destinations for an adventurous combination of camping, technical rock climbing, rock scrambling, bouldering, hiking, boating, and fishing.

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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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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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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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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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Bonneville Dam

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Bonneville DamWhat’s to Love:  Free admission!  And, your kids will freak out when they see a 6-foot White Sturgeon at the fish hatchery.  I wouldn’t rate this high as a family destination on its own, but it’s in the perfect location for a side trip while out and about in the Gorge.  Definitely a good bet when mixed with “Wahclella Falls.

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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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Oxbow Regional Park

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Oxbow Regional ParkWhat’s to Love:  One of my favorite things about writing these articles is the shocking surprises that often occur while on different adventures.  The biggest surprises happen when I think a place is just going to be awful, and it turns out being the exact opposite.  It’s happened several times this summer, and it definitely happened on my visit to Oxbow Regional Park.  This park is a MUST visit during the hot days of summer!

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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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