Washougal River Access

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Washougal River - Near Dougan Creek FallsWhat’s to Love:  I was looking for the perfect swimming hole on our way back from a bouldering adventure in Washington.  Our plan was to check-out Dougan Creek Falls, which looks visually stunning and lots of fun. However, on our way to the falls, another access point (about 1 mile short of the falls) caught my eye while rounding a curve.

After noticing this beautiful spot, we parked at a pullout along the Washougal River (literally 30 seconds down a steep bank), and I could hardly believe my eyes!  This spot (see distance from Portland below) on the Washougal is one of the nicest river access points I’ve ever seen in my life.  Perfect for the whole family!

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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. For reviews on outdoor gear, visit GearWeAre.com. This link covers family tents.

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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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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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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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Ripzu Indoor Skatepark

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Ripzu Indoor SkateparkWhat’s to Love:  On May 2nd, 2012, Ripzu will be reopening!!!  They were able to work things out with their landlord and will be moving the entire space into the side with the mini-pipe.

On our ever continuing 2011 skatepark tour, we managed to find this gem in Vancouver, WA.  Ripzu has been open about a year and a half, but it seems like a brand new facility to me. Everything is in excellent condition with a superior riding surface and one of the nicest layouts for beginning riders in the Portland area.  

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Family Getaway – Garibaldi, Oregon

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Jeff Hunter – Manager, Harborview Inn

Jeff Hunter manages the Harborview Inn in Garibaldi, Oregon.  He was kind enough to send Portland Family Adventures an invitation to do some crabbing right off the local pier. Since I’ve never crabbed in my life, we decided to take the whole family for a quick day trip.  We spent a few hours in Garibaldi hoping to catch some crab, checking out the sights, and eating fish and chips at the highly recommended “Fisherman’s Korner.”  Jeff is enthusiastic about the area and all it has to offer families.  After visiting, I share his enthusiasm and want to pass along a quick interview.

 

 

 

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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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Cooper Spur: A Family Resort

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Cooper Spur Mountain ResortWhat’s to Love:  In my opinion, taking into account all the factors of “family value,” Cooper Spur Mountain Resort (CSMR) is the best option for families looking for a night (or more) away from Portland, especially when combining it with beginning-level skiers and/or snowboarders. They offer a package deal that includes a lift ticket, and rentals that is far less than the cost of a single lift ticket at neighboring resorts.  The trade-off is limited terrain served by a single lift.  Despite that limitation, if you’re looking for a laid-back resort that is family-friendly, this should be your next destination.

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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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Windells – Off Season Access

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What’s to Love:  Located 12 miles SE of Sandy, Oregon on the flanks of Mt. Hood, Windells is a training camp for kids (and adults!) interested in skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, BMX, and free riding.  The sheer magnitude of the outdoor skatepark (aka “concrete jungle”) is enough to make most kids’ jaws drop to the ground in awe. I hope to write about the camp experience (academy, residential, and day) in the near future, but the focus of this article is off-season/day-use access for the general public, which is well worth the price of admission and drive from Portland.

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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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Rainbow Trout Farm

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Rainbow Trout FarmWhat’s to Love: I just published “Haldeman Pond” located on Sauvie Island, where I admitted I had not caught a single fish to this day.  Still love the spot!  However, if you want to drive a bit up near Mt. Hood, you will (most likely) catch a fish at the Rainbow Trout Farm.  It’s almost impossible NOT to catch a fish.  The facility is a welcoming place for families with small children.

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Old Salmon River Trail

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Old Salmon River TrailWhat’s to Love:  We had heard good things about this hike from a close friend.  Those sentiments were corroborated by Bonnie Henderson in her book “Best Hikes with Children in Western and Central Oregon.”  After experiencing the Old Salmon River Trail, I must agree with these two sources – this is the perfect hike with children and a wonderful spot in general.

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is just outside downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s a nice location for hiking with younger children and viewing birds/wildlife. There is a beautiful Education Center with a gift shop and exhibit hall.

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Wapato Access Greenway

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Wapato Access GreenwayWhat’s to Love:  Don’t know exactly what it is about Sauvie Island, but every time I go, I feel like I’m on vacation.  I think it has something to due with the fact that when I’m there, I actually feel like I’m getting away from some of the inevitable craziness of living in a big city.  Windy country roads, farms, bike riders, pleasant hikes, beach, etc. – it all feels like a dream some days.  Some of my favorite stops are on the island and the Wapato Access Greenway (State Park system) is a worthy diversion from the more common destinations.

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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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Sellwood Riverfront Park

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Sellwood Riverfront ParkWhat’s to Love:  Located just to the west (and below) Sellwood Park, Sellwood Riverfront Park often gets passed-up as bikers cruise the Springwater Corridor and cars zip by on the way to Oaks Amusement Park , Oaks Rollerskating Rink, or hiking in the nearby Wildlife Refuge.  Too bad!  Just like many inner southeast parks, this is one you don’t want to miss. 

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