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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.

Sandy River Delta ParkI believe this is the largest off-leash area for dogs in the Portland area. We’ve found that our dog is more difficult to handle around other dogs while leashed.  When we take her off the leash, she does much better with other dogs. While I’m sure there are problems with off-leash dogs, we experienced nothing but friendly dogs and owners the entire 3 hours we were in the Delta.  If you haven’t taken your dogs, you’ll want to soon. We’ll definitely go back soon.  The park is the perfect combination of open fields, trails, mud, and water for a dog to go wild.

Sandy River Delta ParkCaveats:  Be careful – it’s a $100 fine for having your dog off-leash in the wrong areas, and I heard they do ticket frequently.  Keep off-leash dogs away from the Confluence Trail (100 feet).

For the most part, I thought the whole area was clean.  However, there are definitely sections that are disturbingly misused – broken glass, trash strewn all over, homeless camps, etc.  If you get a bit off the beaten path, you will inevitably (and regrettably) witness much of the same.  Despite these eye sore sections, I mainly witnessed responsible and friendly dog owners having a pleasant afternoon.

Sandy River Delta ParkI believe the forest service is in the middle of redoing the entire parking area.  They have built (what looks like) a brand new bathroom in the parking area with some newer signs and maps. Currently (4/22/2012), the parking area is rough gravel with pot holes and construction signs/equipment.  I think this will be a really nice parking area when they’ve completed their work.

Sandy River Delta ParkI’m sure this entire area gets overcrowded with people and dogs on hot summer weekends.  We will probably keep to the weekdays to avoid large crowds.  Even though it’s a big area, many people have the rivers as a common destination.  Please do your best to clean up after your dog and be responsible with your own trash.  Let’s keep this place a worthy destination for pet lovers.

Website:  US Forest Service Site,   Map of the Delta,   Portland Pooch

Distance from Portland:  Depending on traffic, this is a relatively quick excursion from Portland. Exit 18 (Troutdale) on 84 East.  Here is a Google Map.

Recommended Ages:  All ages!  This is a great place for the entire family.  I can see this working with small children up through teens and beyond.

Parental Stress Factor:  Somewhat stressful depending on your experience with dogs and owners.  I’m a bit nervous with my kids around off-leash dogs. During the day, dogs jumped up on my kids a couple of times, but everyone handled it well, including the kids.  Despite the laid back feel of the Delta, I would always keep a close eye on my kids around all the dogs.

Physical Difficulty:  The entire area is flat and the hiking is easy.  There are washes filled with water and/or sand that make hiking a bit slow at times.  The Confluence Trail is a hard packed trail that is considered handicap accessible according to “Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge.” This book also gives a good description of the trails, access issues, and directions from Portland.

Family Fun Factor:  Fun factor is high if you’re a dog family.  Great time hanging out with dogs in such a friendly and open environment.  Bring along your favorite dog toys, Frisbee, and mountain bikes to increase the fun. Horses are also allowed inside the Delta.

Pet Friendly:  Let’s see….YES!!!  This is by far the best place I’ve seen to take your pet in the Portland area.

Weather Considerations:  Open year round!  

Sandy River Delta ParkInsider Info:  Make sure to check-0ut the map link of the Delta. My suggestion is to print the map and bring it with you.  While the forest service has put in some newer signs, we never knew where we were and when we’d ask people, they seemed as lost as us!

Mountain bikes are a good idea and allowed on the trails. There are no motor vehicles allowed inside the park.

I was quite surprised that horses were allowed in the park.  I didn’t think horses would be a good mix with off-leash dogs, but I witnessed horses and dogs peacefully sharing the same trails. People were very considerate and moved their dogs off the side of the trail while horses came through.

Sandy River Delta ParkFamily Tips:  When it’s busy, this isn’t a great destination if you don’t have a dog or you’re bugged by off-leash dogs.  You will see a mind boggling number of off-leash dogs.

You’ll definitely want to bring a child carrier for smaller kids.  For babies and toddlers, you’ll want to carry them due to jumping dogs.  Older kids will most likely be fine in a jogging stroller, which we wished we would have brought for our 3-year old.

To get to the river and back, you’re looking at least a 1 mile hike.  Make sure you’re prepared with sunscreen, snacks, and anything else you might need.  If you explore, the hike can easily develop into 2+ miles – it’s a big area.

Technorati Tags: Sandy, River, Columbia, Gorge, Delta, off-leash, dog, park, Portland, Troutdale

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  1. Looks like a great place for our dog to go for a wade without being swept away. Can't keep those labs out of water!

    • When there is flooding, wading pools are formed. Be careful at the Sandy River. The current can be very strong. In the video clip, you can see our dog literally being swept downstream while fetching her ball. She managed to swim back to shore no problem, but we weren't throwing the ball out very far.

  2. I will not return to Sandy River Delta as I don't think it is safe. My car was broken into (window smashed) in the parking lot in the middle of the day. Evidently thugs roll through here so be very careful. Also, in our hiking that day we came across a homeless shanty town back in the trees. I was very excited about this park, but won't return due to these observations/experiences.

    • Thanks for the comments and heads-up. I would have to agree with you in that I\’m sure cars get broken into here (off the beaten path enough with owners walking far from their cars), AND indeed, there is what appears to be a homeless enclave on the west side of the park.

      While I agree with your report, I certainly would go back (and have several times since writing) with the following caveats. I only go on the weekends when there are plenty of people in and out of the parking area. This significantly decreases the chances of a break-in.

      My family ended-up walking through the \”Shanty Town,\” which was disturbing to see in the woods, but the people certainly didn\’t pose any danger to us – at least that\’s my assessment. We just walked by and waved. On our next visit, we just didn\’t go to that area.

  3. ..Giving your dog affection is important for the human, and enjoyed by the dog, but must be done at the correct times…

  4. Dog barking the human is not a new story in this blog. But if the pet is much more arrogant then the chances of biting the person is more rather than a normal one. In all this cases you only need to more careful in order to prevent yourself. Sometimes when the fault is in your side like you might hurt the dog so that you have faced problem. So whenever thinking to purchase a dog you needs to be very careful about the nature.

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