above: amazing views of Mt. Hood as we approached Portland
As we continued to meander through the Pacific Northwest, we landed in Boring, OR (I think they must have heard every joke in the book). Barton Park is a great little county park about 30 miles east of Portland right by the Clackamas River. That meant while we really enjoyed our campground, we did have to drive a little further to get to Portland and to the Columbia River Scenic Areas. However since they are in opposite directions, I guess being in the middle works out in the end. The park had been closed for road and site paving, and we checked in the first day they re-opened, so we had the park almost completely to ourselves for a few days!
Continuing our servitude to Opie (he is a major reason we spend a lot of time hiking), we took him to the Sandy River Delta Park, also known as Thousand Acres Dog Park. It’s 1,400 acres of trails for dog lovers (some on-leash and some off-leash). Many of the trails lead to the Sandy River and Columbia River so the dogs can go for a nice dip in the water. Since most of it is meadow land, the sun can get scorching, so it’s a good thing we brought plenty of water and a folding dog bowl! We walked the mile and a half “boundary trail” to the river, and needless to say, Opie had a grand time wandering, sniffing, and peeing on everything. Once we hit the water, he immediately got soaked, then waited for us to toss his tennis ball in a few times. Several other visitors with dogs came by during our stay too. When Opie meets new dogs, he sniffs them for about two seconds, then he’s done. One of the dogs though was intent on stealing Opie’s tennis ball at every opportunity, driving Opie a little crazy.
Giving Opie a full day out gave us less guilt about spending the next day in Portland for a humans-only day. We decided to try the 4T (train, trolley, trail, tram) trail in Portland. It’s a great self-guided tour touching on some of Portland’s highlights.
We drove into Portland (traffic is a nightmare, next time it’ll have to be the train) and parked at Washington Park. That allowed us to start with the trail portion of the tour. We took the wooded trail to Council Crest Park, the highest point in the city. On a clear day, you can see Mt. St Helens, Rainier, and Adams. Unfortunately we could only barely make out St Helens and no other mountains due to some hazy skies, but the views were still magnificent. After Council Crest, the remainder of the hike is mostly downhill (whew!) to OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University). The trail was about 4 miles long through the various parks, with a fair bit of up and down.
At OHSU, we took the aerial tram down to the riverfront (no charge when going downhill!) with some great views of the city, mountains, and river.
Right at the bottom of the tram we hopped on the trolley (streetcar) for a quick 10 minute trip to downtown. We figured this would be a great place to grab some lunch so we wandered a bit and to our delight, we found a block and half full of semi-permanent food trucks/trailers! With so many choices, we walked through to see the offerings. Mike settled on BBQ, while I got a gyro. Both turned out to be good choices and we walked away full and happy.
The last part of the tour was taking the train (MAX) from downtown back to Washington Park. The MAX Washington Park station is apparently the deepest station in North America at 260 feet below ground. They only have an elevator to take you back to the surface, I guess taking an escalator or stairs might take a really long time.
If you have the time and energy, Washington Park is full of great attractions like the International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, Children’s Museum, and Oregon Zoo. By the end of our tour, we were too tired to do anything but stumble back to the car and fight the traffic to get back home so we added those to our list of things to do next time we visit.
Two well-known waterfalls are located right in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area so we had to visit them while we were here. Both the Multnomah and Wahkeena waterfalls are located by the road so you can park the car and see the falls. However there is also a great 5 mile hike (loop #2 on the map) that passes both major falls and many smaller waterfalls along the trail (bonus points since the hike is dog-friendly). Both Multnomah and Wahkeena waterfalls are incredibly busy with tourists but once you get past those, the trail is sparsely populated. At 621 feet high, Multnomah Falls is spectacular to view. The trail starts at the base of the falls, and then heads to the top of the falls for an amazing view of the Columbia River. There are 11 switchbacks to reach the top of the falls and it is a very steep climb!
The Portland area was quite enjoyable (except for the traffic!) so we’ll definitely be returning in the future to check out more of the things we missed this time around. We’ve definitely come to grips with only doing a few things at each location rather than trying to cram in too much, knowing that we’ll be back many times in the future to keep exploring.