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Kelley Point Park
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Kelley Point Park Green SpaceWhat’s to Love:  Located right at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Kelley Point is the northernmost park in Portland.  In my opinion, Kelley Point Park is one of the more interesting outdoor destinations in Portland – as far as parks go.  When cruising along the beautifully forested, paved bike paths, you’ll catch glimpses of the beach, river and large green spaces.  This perfectly serene moment will most likely be sabotaged by a giant, cargo ship’s unmistakable hum – a loud, foreboding hum!  The ship’s horn might give a blast, and you will start to see (and smell) all the industrialization – the chemical plants, acres and acres of new cars, massive cranes, loading and unloading stations, etc.  The reality here is that Kelley Point Park is ground-zero for shipping and receiving via the Columbia River.

Kelley Point ParkHope I didn’t scare you away!  It’s rare when your little ones will be able to see a HUGE ship up this close.  As they pass, your children will be amazed by the (relatively) large waves churned-up along the shore.  These ships often lead to a barrage of interesting questions from kids like:  Where is that ship coming from?  How can a ship that big move in a river?  What’s inside that ship, anyway?  I don’t see anyone on that ship, who is sailing it?  These questions will test your geographical/maritime knowledge, so you might want to brush-up before you head up to Kelley Point Park.

Kelley Point ParkAlso, the park has a big, open green-space area without baseball fields or soccer goals.  So, there is plenty of room for throwing around a frisbee, having a picnic on the lawn, playing some croquet, and letting your kids run around unencumbered.  If you get tired of the lawn, head down to a very nice beach area for a stroll along the water, or to throw some rocks into the river.  Despite the surroundings, Kelley Point is definitely worth checking-out, even if just for the educational opportunities.

Caveats:  Parking area is far away from where you’ll be watching ships, walking the beach, and having a picnic.  I wouldn’t leave anything valuable in your car.

Fishing at Kelley Point ParkDog owners rarely leash their dogs here, which is usually not a problem.  However, if you have kids playing on the beach, keep a close eye on them, because these dogs often come out of nowhere and can scare your kids.

We saw a man fishing, cooking (over an open fire) and eating the fish he caught from the Columbia River.  YUCK!!!  I would never eat a fish out of the Columbia river, and I certainly wouldn’t let my kids swim in the river.  Unfortunately, this gentleman and his kids left their fire and bunch of trash and food behind for someone else to clean.  Even though the beach was generally pretty clean, I suspect this type of behavior happens all too often at Kelley Point.  I hope I’m wrong.

WebsitePortland Parks and Recreation40 Mile Loop Trail

Distance from Portland:  About 10 miles from downtown Portland.  Here is a Google Map of the area.

Recommended Ages:  The park doesn’t have a play structure, so younger kids will probably want to hang out on the beach.  If you don’t want them to get too bored, make sure you bring plenty of activities to the park (e.g., soccer ball, football, frisbee, etc.).

Parental Stress Factor:  Medium – typical parenting issues around water and off leash dogs.  A little off the beaten path, so you’ll want to keep a closer eye on your kids.

Physical Difficulty: The paved-paths create a measure of handicap accessibility, and the restrooms are accessible.  The park paths are flat, so there isn’t much physical difficulty at all.

Family Fun Factor:  On a sunny day with bikes, this is a pretty fun park.  I certainly wouldn’t put it up there with Sellwood park, but if you like parks, your whole family will have a good time.

Pet Friendly:  In my opinion, a bit too pet friendly.  It seemed like every dog we saw was running around without a leash.  Despite this, we didn’t experience a problem, and the dog owners seemed responsible.

Weather Considerations:  Save this for a sunny day when your family can bike to the park.  Luckily, we accomplished this in mid-November!  A dreary, rainy day coupled with all the industrialization and freakishly large ships sounds like a downer to me.  

Kelley Point ParkInsider Info:  This park is so far off the beaten path that it has a reputation for attracting some undesirable people and events.  I won’t get into what I’ve heard, but I would stay away from this park during the evening hours.  Also, as usual, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your kids.  On our two trips to this park, I’ve never experienced a problem.

Kelley Point Park BeachFamily Tips:  Since it’s part of Portland’s “40 mile loop,” it’s a great destination for a family bike trip.  Once there, the park has some excellent paved paths for beginning bikers.  Pack a picnic in your Burley trailer!  There are plenty of picnic tables at the park.

Since you’ll be a ways away from any convenience/grocery stores and/or restaurants, make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks with you.  You’ll definitely want a child carrier of some type, because it’s at least 1/8 of a mile from the parking to the point.  If walking, I recommend loading a Bob-type jogging stroller up with your stuff and schlepping that into the park.

Technorati Tags: Kelly Point Park, Kelley Pointe Park, Portland, Parks, confluence, Willamette, Columbia, river, 40-mile, loop, trail, paved, biking, paths, watch ships, beach, north

Other Posts of Interest...

Dabney State Park on October 28th, 2011

Oceanside, Oregon on November 26th, 2007

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area on August 19th, 2008
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  2. This seems to be an awesome place to hang out with friends for sure. Maybe I will just make a stroll into this park with my friends this weekend. Who knows, this might even be the best trip ever.

  3. "Pet Friendly: In my opinion, a bit too pet friendly. It seemed like every dog we saw was running around without a leash. Despite this, we didn’t experience a problem, and the dog owners seemed responsible."- What is most important is responsible dog owners. I keep my short haired German shepherd dog off leash.

  4. Janet K Davenport

    Kelly Point Park has a dangerous side, the Willamette River side. Be careful in that water. There are what my Dad called "Holes", on that side. You can be walking 3 feet out into the water and suddenly the bottom is gone, but not like dropping off edge of a shelf. Walking parallel with the beach, there are Holes, cold deep spots. People drown there frequently– so be aware, be careful, and where a life jacket…I had an inner-tube around me when I first encountered a hole. And I had advanced warning about the HOLES.

  5. Janet K Davenport

    If my other comment doesn't show, do NOT GO TO THIS PARK WITH SMALL CHILDREN!

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