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Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn #1

Posted on: February 26th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Warm up or cool off from a great ride at Rood Ridge Park.

Warm up or cool off from a great ride at Rood Ridge Park.

Cyclists are smitten with the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway and its 50 miles of cycling nirvana. While the terrain of Oregon’s Washington County is no doubt part of the bikeway’s power, any bicyclist will tell you that it’s the unexpected pleasures that take a ride from pristine to spectacular.

This is why we’re kicking off a monthly “wheel turn” series, showcasing highlights along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. And okay—we’re not going to take you painstakingly turn by turn. However, we’re thrilled to break this half-century ride into mini stretches of fun.

Many cyclists choose to begin (or end) their time on the bikeway at Rood Bridge Park and Rhododendron Garden, which is worth exploring in its own right. The über active can jump of their bikes and play a game of doubles on the tennis courts. Alternately, trade wheels for paddles with the park’s kayak and canoe ramp. After pedaling hard, a relaxed row down the lazy Tualatin River provides a nice respite.  For just a quick-stop, spend a few minutes wandering through the mix of woods and wetlands, mapping out your ride on the picnic tables, or taking in the view of fluffy pink rhododendrons.

Just down the road from Rood Bridge Park is the Meriwether National Golf Club. The club provides a great opportunity for fun-seekers who want a short ride followed by a short 9-hole course. That pairing is sure to work up an appetite for ahi tacos or BBQ pulled pork sandwiches at the Meriwether Grill.

This is just one of a multitude of ways to experience the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bike Route. Start wherever you want on the bikeway—and complete whatever feels right to you. Next month, we’ll discuss the wineries and farm stands along the SW Johnson School Road of the bikeway.  

Road Closure Notice:
The N.W. Porter Road portion of the bikeway in Forest Grove will be closed for a film production event on Saturday, March 1 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Fuel Your Hobbies

Posted on: January 17th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
What's your hobby. From bowling to antiquing, we can help you enjoy your hobbies to the fullest.

What’s your hobby. From bowling to antiquing, we can help you enjoy your hobbies to the fullest.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the best ones reignite an existing passion rather than try to force a new one. Your resolutions should honor what you love. Fittingly, January is National Hobby Month and we have tons of ways for you to indulge in your favorite pastimes in Oregon’s Washington County.

Pedaling the 50 mile stretch of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway is one of the best ways to clear one’s head for 2014. The bikeway is best for intermediate and advanced cyclists, but newbies can enjoy the 21-mile sweep along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

Be the kingpin of your bowling team by practicing on vacation. The 42 state-of-the-art lanes at Big Al’s could be the home of your 300-game. Hobbyists of the gamer or sports variety go ga-ga for the big screens and exceptional arcade.

Dust off that box in the attic—it’s time to revitalize your favorite collection! How can you not with two amazing and MAX-accessible markets rolling through the Washington County Fair Complex. First hit up Portland’s Rain of Glass Show and Sale (January 25-26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., $7 admission) for all things glass: glass appraisals, displays, and glass repairs.

The Funky Junk Sisters Vintage Flea Market (January 31-February 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $7 admission) is a favorite of Flea Market Style Magazine, Romantic Homes Magazine, and Flea Market Décor Magazine for upcycled treasures.

Take in amazing views by boat or canoe. Hagg Lake has tranquil waters and (of course) beautiful fishing from March to November. Get ready to reel in crappie, bluegill, trout, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and yellow perch. Angler’s licenses can be obtained from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for $33.

Al’s Garden Center helps gardeners keep their love of flora thriving through the winter with free or affordable weekend workshops for succulent bowls, indoor herb gardens, and orchids.

Is cooking your hobby? Get inspiration for new recipes with our soup roundup, combining National Hobby Month with National Soup Month!

Trail of the Week: Gales Creek Trail

Posted on: September 30th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Get a rush on the Gales Creek Trail!

Get a rush on the Gales Creek Trail!

Outdoorsmen, we have something for you. For the last installment of our Trail of the Week series, we’re upping the ante with Gales Creek Trail (pdf).  After warming up on the milder trails within Oregon’s Washington County, take the next step onto the slightly more vigorous hike found on the Gales Creek Trail. This trail offers the total outdoors experience: waterfall-laden hiking, camping, and even fishing.

From the trailhead, follow the path that runs between Gales Creek and the fern-covered hills. Traversing deeper into the flora, hikers get the treat of experiencing some of Tillamook State Forest’s most remote and scenic land. Standout findings on the trail include rustic log bridges, which carry hikers across the creeks and tributaries of the Wilson River. In the low morning fog, catch the haunting groupings of snags, which are standing dead trees left from the Tillamook Burn Fires of the 1930s through the ’50s. There chalky color and missing tops make them perfect perching grounds for hunting birds (and perfect aid for bird watchers!).  

Perhaps the most sparkling gem of the Gales Creek Trail is its smattering of waterfalls. The largest waterfall is also the last, ending on a treat. From the last waterfall, the trail pulls away from the water and ascents to Bell Camp Road. For those who prefer loop trails, combine Gales Creek Trail with Storey Burn Trail (pdf).

However, some forest lovers can’t help but extend their stay on the Gales Creek Trail into an overnight affair. For a dry or light-drizzle weekend, there are two stellar camping options:

  • Gales Creek Campground: Wilson River Hwy., OR-6, Milepost 35, Forest Grove; offers biking, camping and fishing
  • Browns Camp: Wilson River Hwy., OR-6, Milepost 33, Forest Grove;offers canoe access to the river, plus an off-highway vehicle area

Fast Facts:
Length: 11.4 miles
Type: hiking, mountain biking
Level: moderate
Trailhead: Highway 6 at milepost 35

Read past installments of Trail of the Week:
Fanno Creek Trail
Tualatin River Water Trail
Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway
Westside Regional Trail
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop

Row, Row, Row…Your Pumpkin!

Posted on: September 18th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Submit an entry into the Pumpkin Regatta Mascot Naming Contest.

Submit an entry into the Pumpkin Regatta Mascot Naming Contest.

Some folks jump-start fall by forcing pumpkin-flavored everything into the day-to-day as soon as September hits. We can’t help but jump on the bandwagon ourselves. So, while we’re still a month away from ghouls, ghosts, and gourds, we feel compelled to mention the 10th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta (Saturday, October 19, 2013, 10 a.m. to 4  p.m. at Tualatin Commons).

While a Giant Pumpkin Regatta may sound like a regal affair, this special day veers more to the wonderfully absurd. Pumpkin-lovers come to watch this annual race of 1,000-plus pound hallowed pumpkins—with people inside them—buoying across the water.

Upon trucks hauling giant pumpkins to the race site, the enormous gourds are fork-lifted to sit alongside each other for the 14th Annual Terminator Weigh-Off. Upon declaring a winner (last year’s winning pumpkin weighed a whopping 1,531 pounds!), the pumpkin owners engage in the most epic pumpkin carving session you have ever seen, scooping out seeds by the gallons.

Rather than filling the pumpkins with lights for a jack-o-lantern, the owners instead place themselves inside the hollowed out orange orbs. The regatta offers different races, with some focusing on speed while others are game-oriented. Giddy from the raucous of the Giant Pumpkin Regatta, the crowd moves on to a cornucopia of other activities, including a pie-eating contest, pumpkin decorating, and live music.

Not only do we hope this all has you revving to go, but also ready to submit an entry into the Pumpkin Regatta Mascot Naming Contest. Do it quick because entries must be submitted by this Friday, September 20. The winner of the contest receives a chance to paddle their own pumpkin on the big day—we’d love to root for you!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

More Than a Race: Specialty 5ks, 10ks, Relays, & Marathons

Posted on: July 25th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Get as muddy as can be at this year's Warrior Dash

Get as muddy as can be at this year’s Warrior Dash

Adrenaline rushing, endorphins pumping, and a soft rush of air tingling at your skin and sweat—nothing beats a runner’s high. For some, running is just part of their identity. For others, it’s a chance to strive toward a new goal. No matter why you sign up for a 5k, 10k, marathon, or relay race, all runners share a similar sense of pride, achievement, and even euphoria.

Here in Oregon’s Washington County, we have races and relays for those wanting to run the road-less-traveled. Suitable for seasoned marathoners and newbies alike, our upcoming running events run the gambit of extreme to down-right silly. You can get down-n-dirty in an obstacle driven mud run, relay between scenic (yet challenging) lake view trails and roads, or take a kooky run through a kaleidoscope of neon colors.

Warrior Dash (September 7, 2013)

A mud-rucking good time will be had by all at the fourth consecutive Warrior Dash at Horning’s Hideout. Earn your warrior stripes by completing 12 dirt and mud covered obstacles along a 3.11 mile course.

Registration rates: Before August 2: $70

Hagg Hybrid (September 14, 2013)

Rolling hills, views of Henry Hagg Lake, and dirt trails are what you’ll find at the Hagg Hybrid. In addition to marathon runners and trail blazers, relay junkies are welcome with the new 14.5-Mile Trail Relay.

Registration rates: Marathon: $55-$80; Marathon Relay (per person): $35-$60; 14-Mile Trail Relay (per person): $35-$60

Epic Grind (September 28, 2013)

Family fun, but a dirty run is the general premise of the Epic Grind, a community-based obstacle run with 5K, 10K and Kid Run options. The trail loops through forests and water’s edge of Henry Hagg Lake. But this is more than just running. With obstacles all along the way, be prepared to do it all to get to the finish line: climbing, crawling, jumping, dragging, and balancing. Staggered start times starting at 10 a.m.

Registration Rates: 5K: $60-$70; 10K: $65-$75; Kids Race: $20

Color Vibe (October 26, 2013)

At the Color Vibe, your run gradually turns you into a piece of art. Starting at the Washington County Fairgrounds, you’ll be blasted at various “color station” throughout this color-tastic 5K run. Don’t worry, the magical color powder is non-toxic and biodegradable, making it friendly for your health and the environment.

Registration Rates: Loyalty registration: $40; Regular registration: $43; Late registration: $46; Day of registration (if not sold out): $50

It’s not how fast you run, when you run, or who you’ll run with. Instead, the question is what fun atmosphere in Oregon’s Washington County will you choose for your race or relay. So, how will you run?

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Cool Places to Beat the Heat

Posted on: August 3rd, 2012 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Looking for cool places to go to when temperatures rise in Oregon’s Washington County? We’ve got some ideas that fit that bill.

Hit the Water

Henry Hagg Lake, located in Gaston, approximately 45 minutes west of downtown Portland,  is the perfect watering hole for swimming in Oregon’s Washington County.  Visitors can water ski, jet ski, swim and fish (angling license required).

If a leisurely boat ride along a tranquil river is more your speed, then the Tualatin River may be your go-to spot. The river provides cool and calming recreation opportunities, and kayak and canoe rentals are available on a drop-in, first-come, first-served basis. Read more from an earlier blog post.

Shop Tax-Free

As hard as it is to believe, the start of the school year is just weeks away. Why not take this opportunity to take advantage of the back-to-school sales at Washington Square? Shop tax-free and save even more with a Shopping & Dining Visitor Rewards Book, chock-full of savings! Simply show your out-of-area identification at the Guest Services booth and start saving.

Play Some (Indoor) Sports

Bowling is a fun family sport, especially during days when you’d rather stay indoors. Oregon’s Washington County has several bowling centers filled with arcade games, food and snacks and more. Sunset Lanes and Big Al’s, both in Beaverton, have a hip, state-of-the-art vibe, while the Tigard Bowl provides a fun, no-frills bowling experience.

Want to try your moves on the ice instead? Don a pair of ice skates and head to the Sherwood Ice Arena. Try your best spin, or jump into a hockey pick-up game (check the public skating schedule for more information).

These are just some of the many indoor activities that will help you stay cool in hot temperatures.  Want more ideas to plan an Oregon’s Washington County getaway? Read our digital visitors guide for helpful tips.

Kayaking and Canoeing: No Reservations Required

Posted on: August 1st, 2012 by Angie Marsh 2 Comments

The Tualatin River provides cool and calming recreational opportunities–especially in the summertime. Best of all, no advance planning is necessary for a boat trip, as rentals are available on a drop-in, first-come, first-serve basis at two different locations within Washington County.

The Tualatin Riverkeepers have a colorful assortment of cool kayaks (funded, in part, by a WCVA tourism grant)

The Tualatin Riverkeepers are renting canoes and kayaks at Tigard’s Cook Park boat launch on Saturdays and Sundays through September, with no reservations required. Cost is $30 for up to four hours, with each additional hour $10, and includes life vests. Choose which block of time you’d like to paddle the scenic waterways; rental hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

For expanded options, check out Alder Creek’s Tualatin rental location, also on the Tualatin River, but in Browns Ferry Park. Canoes and single and tandem recreational kayaks are available for rental Wednesdays through Friday from noon to 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.–through Labor Day weekend (continuing on weekends only Sept. 8-9 and 15-16, 2012). Cost is $20 for two hours, $25 for four hours and $40 for all day.

If you’re looking for more guidance along the waterway, Tualatin Riverkeepers also has two upcoming paddle events. Family Paddle Day is Saturday, Aug. 11 at Cook Park, and offers two-hour guided canoe trips complete with a shuttle. On Sunday, Aug. 26 they’re offering a Westside Family Paddle Trip at Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro. Both of these events require reservations. Happy paddling!



What’s a Teen to Do?

Posted on: August 31st, 2011 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Tree to Tree Adventure Park is one of several attractions in Oregon's Washington County that your teen will enjoy.

Traveling with teens can be a frustrating experience. Attractions that adults may find inviting, such as museums and art galleries, may be boring to the average American teenager. And kid-friendly spots can be too “babyish” for the finicky teen. As a parent to a teen, here is a handy guide of places that are fun for adults and are teen-friendly, too. (Although they will never acknowledge that they’re having fun, you know they are and will.)

For the Teen with a Sense of Adventure

Hands-down, Tree to Tree Adventure Park remains on the top of the list for teens when it comes to outdoor adventure. The thrill and excitement of playing in the trees while navigating a course of obstacles can bring out childlike enthusiasm in even the most jaded teenager.

Kayaking and canoeing is also a good pastime for teenagers, whether it’s a leisurely ride along the slow-moving Tualatin River, or a family race to an imaginary finish line. Boat rentals are available from the Tualatin Riverkeepers or Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe.


Bonding Time

Hagg Lake, located at Scoggins Valley Park, is one of several fishing spots perfect for a day of parent and teen bonding. Horning’s Fishing and Picnic Hideout also is another popular fishing hole, stocked with rainbow trout. As an added bonus, after a day of angling, try a game of disc golf at each of these locations.

For many, myself included, a great deal of bonding happens while shopping; however, we parents of teens know that this often creates some short-lived drama, so shop ’til you drop at your own risk.


Friendly Family Games

Washington County is chock-full of teen- and family-friendly hands-on activities: laser tag at Laserport, bowling at Big Al’s, outdoor go-kart racing at Malibu Raceway or indoor go-karting at Sykart Indoor Racing Center. For less competitive sports, try trampolining at Sky High Sports or rock climbing at Stoneworks Climbing Gym. (Some attractions are open during evening hours, which will keep your teen happy after the sun goes down.)


Teen-Friendly Dining

So you’ve hiked, biked and climbed your way to an appetite, and you ask, “Where can we go for dinner that has food my teenager will like?”  Here are some local places that teens will enjoy, for the food, and the ambiance:

For the complete list of restaurants in Oregon’s Washington County, visit our dining page.


So, there you have it, a quick quide to exploring Oregon’s Washington County with teenagers. My own teenager helped me compile this list, so it has an unofficial stamp of approval. There are hundreds of other things to do and see while here, more than what’s on this list. Whatever you choose to do while visiting, we’re sure you (and your teen) will have a blast.



Are We There Yet?

Posted on: July 26th, 2011 by WCVA 1 Comment

Tree to Tree Adventure Park offers four courses of varying difficulty, each with a variety of tree-top obstacles.

Summer soon will be winding down, and the inevitable conclusion of the season is fast approaching — much to the chagrin of school children everywhere. If you haven’t planned your summer family vacation yet, or even if you have, Oregon’s Washington County is an ideal destination for an end-of-summer getaway. Mild temperatures and long days are perfect for planning a day’s worth of adventure. Biking, kayaking and zip-lining are examples of what a typical day in Washington County offers.

Bicyclists have plenty of options when it comes to exploring Washington County. The 21-mile Banks-Vernonia State Trail is just one of many scenic routes to explore by bike (or by foot).  The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA) has resources to help plan your route, including bike maps and downloadable maps, bike rental information and more. High-flying adventurists will enjoy swinging through the trees at Tree to Tree Adventure Park, the only public aerial ropes course of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.  The aerial obstacle course is not for the faint of heart, but it is a great adventure for kids and adults of all abilities (must be able to reach a five-foot wire; visit Tree to Tree’s site for complete list of rules and requirements). Water lovers have a few options to spend the lazy days of summer. The calm and meandering Tualatin River is the ideal location to launch a kayak or canoe. Rentals are available at a couple of launch points from Alder Creek Kayak, Canoe & Raft and the Tualatin Riverkeepers. Located in the western region of Washington County is Henry Hagg Lake, which is open to swimmers, boaters, jet skiers and for fishing.

While the last thing on the kids’ (and your) minds is to start school shopping, but with tax-free shopping and sales galore, it’s hard not to pass up the great deals in Washington County.

The European-style Bridgeport Village is an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment center with a unique blend of clothing stores, specialty shops and restaurants. A first-run movie theater is located at the village – a great respite for tired shoppers. For the largest selection of stores under one roof, Washington Square boasts more than 170 retail shops and five anchor stores, including Oregon’s largest Nordstrom department store. Shops include teen-friendly choices, such as H&M, Forever21, Aéropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch and more. Another option is The Streets of Tanasbourne, a lifestyle retail center with more than 50 specialty shops, including clothing for children, teens and adults, as well as a Macy’s department store, and a variety of well-known restaurants. In addition to these retail centers, the area boasts a multitude of boutiques, brand-name fashion clothing stores, consignment shops, antique shops and other specialty shops (see the complete list).

It’s Time for an Oregon Adventurecation in Washington County!

Posted on: April 7th, 2011 by WCVA No Comments

When it comes to outdoor adventure, Oregon is tops! In Washington County, miles of beautiful countryside are waiting to be explored. From kayaking and cycling to birding and hiking, and so much more in between, the options are endless.

Activities and attractions such as Tree to Tree Adventure Park, the state’s only public aerial ropes course of its kind; Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a 21-mile trail open to hikers, cyclists and equestrians; and the Tualatin River, which is perfect for kayaks and canoes, are just a sample of the dozens of adventures to be discovered in Washington County.

Create your own Washington County journey via the Create Your Adventure Video Series, interactive videos that allow you to choose a couple’s Washington County adventure.

Don’t just sit there! Plan your Washington County Adventurecation today!