Tag Archives: Outer Portland

Molalla River State Park (Summer)

Directions: Take I-205 South to exit 9 (Oregon City/99E). Get on McLoughlin Blvd and then onto 99E South. Follow 99E for about 5.5 miles until you reach Territorial road and take a right. Take another right onto Holly St. which turns into 37th Ave. The park is on the left.

This park has different trails and you can kind of decide how far you’d like to go. We took a trail that followed along the Willamette River and Molalla River.

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From the parking area near the bathrooms walk down towards the boat launch and pick up the trail that will be following along the Willamette for a while. If you look right down the river you can see the Canby Ferry. The trail is gravel and wide and starts next to the off-leash dog area. Soon you’ll come to a large open field and follow this around and along the Molalla River. It’s not the most scenic hike but it’s still nice. You’ll continue following the trail in a loop that joins back to the trail by the dog park.

The trail is flat and well maintained making this a good option for all ages.

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Distance: Varies

Elevation: Depends on where you hike but it’s not much.

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Nice area, we’re excited to come back with our kayak.

Swan Island Dahlia Festival (2015)

This weekend we checked out the Swan Island Dahlia Festival!

For directions click here.

The Dahlia Festival is great, there is a big field you can walk through and take pictures of all the different types of Dahlias. As well as an indoor area with cut flowers on display. There are also food vendors, music, and a gift shop.

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This weekend was quite rainy and we got there early so it wasn’t very crowded. We were able to take our time walking through the field and got to see all the different types of Dahlias. We lucked out and didn’t get rained on 🙂

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We would definitely recommend this festival for all the flower lovers out there. It’s a nice weekend outing too, for anyone looking for a fun outdoor event. There is no entrance or parking fee which is great. Dogs are allowed outside, but not in any of the indoor areas. The grounds are well kept, making it easily accessible, and there are porta-potties.

Sturgeon Lake (By Kayak) (Summer)

Directions: This hike is located on Sauvie Island. Drive over the Sauvie Island Bridge (stop at the Cracker Barrel Grocery for a day use pass). Continue down the road and stay right onto Reeder Road. Drive for a little over a mile and then take a left onto Oak Island Road. After about 3.5 miles on Oak Island Road the road turns to gravel. Continue on the gravel road and take a right onto an unmarked road that’s just past a pond. If you’ve crossed a cattle guard you’ve gone too far. Follow this road until it ends at the parking area for the lake.

There is a boat launch area but no dock. When the water is low there are rocks to stand on to get into your kayak so you wont have to get wet. Otherwise you might have to get a little wet to push off.


Sturgeon Lake is pretty big and it has almost no current so it makes paddling really easy. When we first started out there was almost no wind and the lake was super flat and pretty. The lake is surrounded by farms and attached to other areas on the island. A lot of it is private property so be aware of the signs if you want to get out and wander around. A good place to get out would be around the Oak Island hiking area. You also get great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.



The bottom of the lake is very muddy and you sink down pretty quickly, making it not the best place to get out and swim. There is a tide here as well so make sure you’re aware of the depth from time to time so you don’t get stranded. We saw some pretty good size fish jumping a few times and there are lots of birds as well.

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We were dealing with a time crunch so we didn’t get to explore as much of the lake as we would have liked. Overall it’s a nice area with not too many people. Great for anyone interested in birds. There is a small beach near the launch area that offers the only real shade around.

Distance: —

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: $7 Sauvie Island fee. Make sure to purchase this at the little store that’s right on the main road after crossing the bridge onto the island.

Seasons: April-September

Popular: Can be on weekends and nice days.

Overall: Nice easy place to kayak. Great for wildlife viewing.

Columbia River Slough Kayak- Airport Way Launch Site (Spring)

Directions: Take I-84 East to the 181st Street exit. Head north and the road soon turns into Airport Way. Follow Airport Way until you reach the parking area on the left. It’s not a marked parking area and kinda sneaks up on you so be sure to keep an eye out (the cross street is roughly 166th)

From the parking area head down the gravel trail to the metal dock. You can go a couple ways here and we chose to head left toward the headwaters.

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Starting out you will head under an overpass and soon come to the Big 4 Corners (it’s signed). Stay right and continue paddling through the tree lined slough. The slough is relatively deep but full of grass and lily pads. In the beginning you’ll mostly be paddling through wooded areas with the chance to see a lot of Herons and small birds. About a mile in it’ll open up to more grassy areas where there are Osprey and Red-tailed Hawks. We also saw an Egret which was great. Keep your eyes peeled for small turtles as well.

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In the more open areas there are some pretty Wild Iris as well as some other flowers. We paddled out for a little over 2 miles. We turned around when it started to become more and more industrial. You will start to notice more businesses and start seeing the railroad tracks. Turning back here made for a nice 4-4.25 miles outing.

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This is a great option for people who are wanting to see wildlife. There were numerous birds along the slough. It may not be the most scenic but it’s still pretty. Another positive would be that it’s not very busy, we only came across maybe 3 or 4 people.


Distance: About 4 miles

Elevation: —

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Convenient location but lacks a little beauty.

Tryon Creek State Park (Spring)

Directions: Take I-5 south to exit 297 (Terwilliger). Head south on Terwilliger following the signs for the park (roughly 2.5 miles).

This park has a mixture of hiking, biking and horse trails. There are 8 miles of well marked and maintained hiking trails, numerous bridges and lots of nature to take in. There is a nature center where you can get an easy to follow (free) map of all the trails. We’ll describe the 2.5 mile route we took but it’s definitely easy to grab a map and just head out whichever way sounds best to you.

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We started at the main parking area and took the Maple Ridge Trail to Middle Creek Trail and that takes you to High Bridge. From High Bridge stay on Middle Creek Trail and cross Beaver Bridge. Stay on Middle Creek after crossing the bridge until you come to Red Fox Trail, take this trail and cross Red Fox Bridge. After crossing the bridge stay on Red Fox until you reach South Creek Trail. Take South Creek Trail to Iron Mountain Bridge. Then, take Iron Mountain Trail to where it intersects with the paved bike path. Follow the bike path back the parking area.

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This is a great hike for bird lovers, kids and anyone that’s looking for some easy trails not too far away from the city. The trails are well maintained and wind through a beautiful forest, and along quiet Tryon Creek. There is a Trillium Festival April 11th and 12th with guided tours. For more on the festival and to see a map of the park, click here.


Distance: 1-6 miles

Elevation: 325 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: Can be on nice days

Overall: There may be no “big attraction” but this is a great park to enjoy the quiet of nature.

Best Of 2014!

Now that 2014 has come to an end we have decided to take a look back at some of our favorite hikes. We did so many great hikes that we decided to break everything down into areas and then an overall best hike of 2014. We hope everyone had as much fun outdoors as we did this past year!

Columbia River Gorge (Oregon Side): *Angels Rest* We have done this hike many times but when we hiked it in early January it was really foggy and made the views at the top even better!

Columbia River Gorge (Washington Side): *Falls Creek Falls* This waterfall is perfection! We can’t wait to go back!

Central Oregon: *Big Obsidian Flow* The amount of obsidian here is unreal and the views of Paulina Lake at the top are great.

Mt. Hood Area: *Tom Dick & Harry Mountain* Hands down one of THE BEST views in Oregon.

Portland Metro: *Hoyt Arboretum* Great place to see all the falls colors. We’ll be back this spring!

Washington: *Lacamas Lake* We love lake hikes where you stay close to the lake the whole time. And so many frogs!

Overall Best Of 2014: *Drift Creek Falls* We don’t know how this couldn’t be our best hike of 2014, and we don’t know what’s better the waterfall or the suspension bridge. Together they are absolutely perfect. We loved everything about this hike.


Honorable Mentions: *Gorton Creek Falls, Panther Creek Falls, Tamanawas Falls, and Powell Butte* Three great waterfalls and a butte with lots of trails right in the middle of SE Portland!


We would love to hear your best hikes of 2014! Any hikes you think we should do in 2015?

Butler Creek Greenway Trail (Winter)

This hike is located in Gresham, to get here take Powell to Powell Loop (it’s a signal). Powell Loop turns into 10th and you’ll soon come to a three-way stop, go left, cross the Springwater Trail and head up Pleasantview Drive. Take the first left onto 14th and just around a bend will be the trailhead on the right. You can park in a little turnout on the left or along the street.

From the trailhead follow the Butler Creek Greenway trail, which is a mostly gravel and dirt path that follows along a small creek with houses on either side. This is a very urban hike/walk, you will see houses most of the time and will cross through a city park. The trail is mostly flat with just a few small hills. After a while you will cross a small wood bridge and wind around and up to Bindford Road.

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Cross the road and pick up the gravel trail that takes you to Binford Reservoir. This is the first of two reservoirs on this hike. There are always a good number of waterbirds here and we’ve even seen some Belted Kingfishers a few times. Keep going past the reservoir and cross another small wooden bridge and continue on down the trail. This part of the trail is much closer to the creek and there are a few benches along the way. Soon you will reach a third bridge, after crossing the bridge the trail starts to head uphill and crosses a fourth and final bridge.

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After crossing the final bridge the trail opens up into a city park and picks up with a paved path. Follow the path right and circle around the park. Once you’re back to the beginning of the pavement head in the opposite direction so you head towards Butler Creek Reservoir, this reservoir is also home to many waterbirds. After circling the reservoir head back the way you came on the Greenway Trail.

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This trail is pretty busy year round. In the summer it is popular for runners and kids on bikes. There are always people with dogs and lots of walkers in every season.


Distance: 2.5 miles

Elevation: 50 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is not the most exciting trail but it’s a nice urban area to get some fresh air. This is a great place for birding as well.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

To get to the Refuge take I-5 South to exit 294. Get onto 99W/Barbur Boulevard and drive about 6.5 miles. Take a right into the Refuge.

There is a nice parking area with bathrooms and an area with brochures and a trail map. Make sure to stop and take a look at the visitor center as well.

This is a great hike (more of a walk really) for our fellow birders! There is even a bird blind that you can make an appointment to use. Only part of the trails are open from Oct. 1- Apr 30 to protect wintering wildlife.

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Start behind the bathrooms and wind down into a small marshy area that follows along many study sites with benches along the way. You will also pass a viewing platform that overlooks the Tualatin River. Keep going and enter the wooded area with a few more study sites and the option to go left to the ridge or right to the Wetland Observation Deck. Definitely check out the observation deck, it has very expansive views of the wetland area giving you lots of opportunity to check out different birds. You can see the giant bald eagle nest off in the distance. We were lucky and they flew to some trees closer to the trail which was great. The ridge isn’t that great there are a lot of trees obscuring and sort of a view. Head back out the way you came and make sure to go behind the visitor center before you leave. It has a great view of the marsh below and we were able to see hundreds of birds, including a large amount of pintails.

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Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 60 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the wildlife refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: No

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: This is a great place if you’re looking for an easy hike and want to see some wildlife.

Mt. Talbert (Autumn)

Directions: There are multiple parking areas for Mt. Talbert, we chose the main Mather Road Trailhead. To get to this trailhead take I-205 to the Sunnyside Road exit, go East on Sunnyside Road and take a right on 97th. 97th turns into Mather Road and the trailhead is on the right.

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From the trailhead the trail immediately starts uphill with two long switchbacks that take you to an intersection. Go left and get on the Park Loop Trail. You will stay on this trail and loop all the way around the mountain and end up right back at this junction where you head back down to your car.

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The trail is well maintained and very well marked. There are multiple junctions on this hike but they all have little posts with maps and trail markers. There aren’t any great views or anything special about this hike. It’s just a nice little hike with Doug Fir, Trillium and lots of Sword Fern.



Distance: 3 miles

Elevation: 460 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: No, dogs are not allowed.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: Nice urban hike, would be great if you don’t have time to get out of the city.

Gresham Butte Bus (Autumn)

This hike takes you to the Gresham Butte “Bus”. It’s not actually a bus, it’s an old utility truck that was used to move water pipes for the Mount Hood Freeway. That project was abandoned in the 70’s and apparently so was the truck. It’s now just hanging out up near the summit of Gabbert Hill.

The hike starts at the Gresham Butte East Trailhead which is located on 19th and Regner, in Gresham.

Start at the gate and head up a wide gravel trail. The trail starts out pretty flat but that all quickly changes. It gets steeper until you reach the saddle, which is a 4-way intersection of trails. At the saddle there is a sign that talks about the Hogan Cedar that only grows in this area. Take a left at the saddle and head up and even steeper gravel trail. This trail does have some nettles, so keep an eye out for that.

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Keep climbing until you see a wooden sigh that says “Gre Pro” which stands for Gresham Pro, shortly after you will reach a fork in the trail. Take a left and head a short distance until you reach the back of the “bus”, this is the end point. The “bus” is covered in graffiti and berry briars. It’s definitely unique looking and fun to take pictures of. Retrace your steps to get back to your car, the gravel is loose so heading back can be a bit interesting.

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Distance: 2.25 miles

Elevation: 800 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: There is a decent amount of elevation gain, so this may not be best for younger kids and older folks.

Bathrooms: No

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: No

Overall: The “bus” is interesting but the hike is pretty boring.