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Archive for the ‘Water Fun’ Category

Nature Passport: Tualatin River

Posted on: February 25th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

tualatin river

Splish-splash, I was takin’ a…paddle! The Tualatin Valley’s landscape wouldn’t be complete without the water habitats of wetlands and rivers. Order a free copy of our Nature Passport—a complete guide of wildlife and outdoor attractions in the area—for information on the best river access points and the creatures you’ll encounter there.

The Tualatin River is a calming, yet driving force running throughout the length of the Tualatin Valley. The water trail is home to all sorts of local animals, including Great Blue Heron and Green Heron and Ospreys. It’s no wonder that these fish-eating birds hangout by the riverbed as so many cutthroat trout and steelhead swim under the river’s soft current.

Before modern roads were paved throughout the region, the Tualatin River use to carry steamboats full of local crops. While you won’t find a steamboat chugging along the river today, kayaks and canoes are a welcomed sight. In the summer months, the Tualatin Riverkeepers provide boat rentals out of Cook Park.  Through winter and spring, you can stop along the river’s picnic points for a peaceful lunch date. Share your picnic outing via the Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest!

For those planning ahead, pencil in these fantastic annual Tualatin River Events:

Tualatin River Bird Fest Paddle
May 16 | Bridge Boat Launch | 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. | free to $50

Tualatin River Discovery Day Paddle
June 27 | Tualatin Community Park | 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. | free to $30

A MidSummer Night Paddle
July 18 | Tualatin Community Park | 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. | $10 to $50

Fall Colors Paddle
October 3 | Browns Ferry Park | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. | $10 to $50

Tualatin River’s Cook Park Entry Point
Location: 17005 SW 92nd Ave, Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: (503) 218-2580
Trail Hours: open year-round
Riverkeeper hours: July-September, Friday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop
L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Magness Memorial Tree Farm
Rood Bridge Park
Tillamook State Forest
Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center

Order your Nature Passport and share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your photos with the #tualatinvalley.

Five Great Playgrounds in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
From left to right: Bethany Meadows Park, Raleigh Park, Commonwealth Lake Park, Tree to Tree Adventure Park

From left to right: Bethany Meadows Park, Raleigh Park, Commonwealth Lake Park, Tree to Tree Adventure Park


School’s out for summer!…and you’ve got a lot of time to spend on summer adventures with the kids. Book a kid-friendly hotel package with us for an easy, no-hassle getaway. No need to jam-pack your schedule here. Make time to stop at a few of our playgrounds to relax and enjoy the sunshine days with us. See below for the perks of some of our favorite Tualatin Valley playgrounds.

1. A Pirate P-arr!-k for Ye, Matey
Bethany Meadows Park, which has been affectionately dubbed “Pirate Park,” is a playground flanked by two pirate-ship-shaped play structures. Little ones can take the helm and navigate the imaginary seas. The playground can be found along the Rock Creek Trail, which is a bike trail that is perfect for those still on training wheels.

2. Playground-‘n’-Picnic
Raleigh Park has a spacious playground in the middle of its 16.26-acre grounds. Plenty of swings to go around! Sporty families love taking advantage of the adjacent soccer field and tennis courts. What’s more, the ample picnic seating is the perfect place to chow down on some local farmers market finds.

3. Go Fish
Commonwealth Lake Park has a cute playground whose colors match the emerald-headed geese that tromp-and-paddle around the lake. After a play session on the spiral slide, find a spot on the lake for kid-friendly fishing. Daily catches include trout, bass, bluegill and crappie (maybe the only time you’ll let your kid say that last word!).

4. What Rain?
Outdoors In Park at the Plaza is a great alternative for those few drizzly summer days. A full-size indoor playground—along with a bouldering wall—encourages kids to be active no matter the weather forecast.

5. Playground in the Trees
Tree to Tree Adventure Park affectionately dubs itself as a “playground in the trees.” This zip line park has a specially designed kids course, as well as “tween course,” where trained guides lead little daredevils through obstacles, zip lines and bridges that are closer to the ground than the adult courses.

Come play your way—at one of our playgrounds—this summer!

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Nature Passport: Cook Park

Posted on: May 21st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Relax in the gazebo at Cook Park, keeping an eye out for colorful birds, insects, and butterflies.

Relax in the gazebo at Cook Park, keeping an eye out for colorful birds, insects, and butterflies.

There are 727 square miles of outdoorsy wonders in Oregon’s Washington County and Cook Park occupies 79 glorious acres of them.  With so much land to cover in just one park, it’s hard to know where to start. Enter, the Nature Passport. Don’t let its handy, little size mislead you—this guide is jam-packed with useful information on Cook Park and other outdoor attractions.

How do you connect with nature? Whether it’s by a kayak ride, bird watching or frolicking in a butterfly garden, Cook Park has it. Adjacent to the Tualatin River Wetlands—a prime place to spot woodpeckers and owls—the Tupling Butterfly Garden is brimming with dozens of flowers to attract curious folks, hungry insects and fluttering butterflies. A quaint gazebo stands at one end as a restful spot to watch butterflies dance between lavender and black-eyed Susans.

If you can tear yourself away from the butterfly garden, then explore the other 2.5 miles of trails, which include the Ki-a-Kuts pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The bridge is named after the last chief of Atfalati Native American tribe, who held a deep connection to the Tualatin River. Today, the river is still much loved with canoe and kayak rentals available during the summer months from the Tualatin Riverkeepers.

While Cook Park makes for a lovely Sunday picnic, it’s just as wonderful for a merry jubilee. The Festival of Balloons is exactly that (June 20-22). Each day of the festival includes a 5:45 a.m. hot air balloon launch, creating a whimsical spectacle of hot air balloons gently swaying over the Tualatin Valley. Cook Park then transforms into a thriving carnival with crafts, games, car shows and even a beer garden!   

So, how will you connect with nature at Cook Park?

Cook Park
Location: 17005 SW 92nd Avenue, Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: (503) 718-2591
Hours: Dawn to dusk daily

Past Nature Passport Blog Post: Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Order your Nature Passport and share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your photos with #WaCoNature.

Eighth Oregon Wonder

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Are the Seven Wonders of the World on your bucket list? How about the Seven Wonders of Oregon? When it comes to Oregon’s Seven Wonders, why see just one? In fact, it’s quite easy to plan a getaway to see both Oregon Wonders of the Oregon Coast and Mt. Hood, using Oregon’s Washington County as the equally-as-beautiful hub between them.

Just 64 miles from the Mt. Hood, you can make it to Oregon’s Washington Country in under an hour-and-a-half. Go from skiing on the mountain to drinking spectacular Oregon Wine in the Tualatin Valley.  For a no-stress day or wine tasting, book the Beer & Wine Hotel Package with the McMenamins Grand Lodge. The package includes lodging for two at McMenamins’ charming and historical property, transportation to and wine tastings with Grape Escape Winery Tours, as well as two hearty meals at the lodge. Pick a bottle from each winery you visit to create a make-your-own case. If you fly through Alaska Airlines, then you can check the whole case for no extra charge. Yes—that’s right. With the Wines Fly Free promotion, you can bring home a whopping 12 bottles of our finest wine without the hefty shipping fee. If that’s not the eighth Oregon Wonder, then we don’t know what is!

If your legs are still sore from your day on the slopes, then give your arms a workout instead. During summer months, the Tualatin Riverkeepers rent canoes and kayaks at Tigard’s Cook Park boat launch on Saturdays and Sundays through September. There’s also an Alder Creek’s Tualatin rental location at Brown’s Ferry Park where river-lovers can rent canoes, as well as single and tandem recreational kayaks. All this time on the lazy and relaxing Tualatin River should whet your appetite for the next Oregon wonder on your list: the Oregon Coast. Only 75 miles from the Cannon Beach and Seaside alike, Oregon’s Washington County is a perfect connecting point between the glorious peak of Mt. Hood to the sea-level of the State’s shorelines. With the lush vineyards and rivers between the two, it’d be a traveling travesty to not spend time in Oregon’s Washington County, as well.

The wonders of Oregon included David Hill Vineyard & Winery and the Tualatin River

The wonders of Oregon included David Hill Vineyard & Winery and the Tualatin River.


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

Ask a Local: Sheri Wantland

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Sustainable, preservation-focused wetlands are Sheri Wantland's mission...and showing visitors a good time!

Sheri Wantland of Clean Water Services and the Fernhill Wetlands gives visitors her inside scoop on Oregon’s Washington County

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Sheri Wantland, Public Involvement Coordinator at Clean Water Services. Sheri ensures the continued preservation and enjoyment of the Fernhill Wetlands. As a 25-year local of Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.

What makes the Fernhill Wetlands so special?
It’s one of the best places for birding and now Clean Water Services is creating natural treatment wetlands with a water garden, dramatic boulders, lovely arched bridges and trails designed by the world renowned landscape designer, Hoichi Kurisu.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
New and returning visitors are surprised to learn the natural treatment wetlands will benefit wildlife, water quality and ratepayers.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction?
Forest Grove is one of Oregon’s oldest cities with National Historic Districts, elegant homes and notable architecture.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County.
Homemade breakfast with fresh local berries, a stroll through the farmers market for fresh flowers, a hike on Cooper Mountain and lunch at Cruise In Country Diner. Then, stops at a hilltop winery for amazing views, a drive around Hagg Lake and through Forest Grove’s historic neighborhoods, a walk through the Water Garden at Fernhill and dinner at the McMenamins Grand Lodge.

What’s a “hidden gem” of the area?
The only genuine bald eagle nest on display in the world is at the education center at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.

What’s your favorite summer event?
Tualatin Riverkeepers’ Discovery Day is the easiest canoeing ever. You can’t beat the scenery and serenity.

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Maggie’s Buns has yummy home style cooking and one of her famous cinnamon rolls is a meal in itself.

What should visitors take home as a souvenir?
A lovely Pinot Noir from one of our many excellent wineries.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
What more could you want?

Previous Ask a Local Posts:
SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan

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!

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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?

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