What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Best Flora and Fauna at Cooper Mountain

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Gear up for a day (or night!) of bat, coyote and pale larkspur sightings.

Gear up for a day (or night!) of bat, coyote and pale larkspur sightings.

The Nature Passport holds sixteen stand-out places to explore the outdoors in one tiny handheld guide. Of course, Cooper Mountain Nature Park is in the mix.

With sweeping views of the Chehalem Mountains, naturalists flock to the park for its top-notch Nature House, natural demonstration garden and play area for children. Apart from the useful structures built here, most come for what lives in the park.  

Go Bats!
Do your kids fight bedtime? If yes, give them a vacation treat of a Family Bat Outing (July 19; 7:30-9:30 p.m.; $10). Learn about the nocturnal residents of the Tualatin Valley before heading out for a guided night hike. Your guide will use bat-attracting techniques to bring the flying bug-eaters into view. Take full advantage of your newfound knowledge of echolocation by using the bat-detector for an eye-opening experience.

Find Your Own Wile E. Coyote
Cooper Mountain’s nocturnal kingdom is not limited to bats. Enter, Park After Dark: Coyotes (August 22; 7:30-9:30 p.m.; $10). This guided night hike will teach nature-lovers how to identify coyote calls, tracks and even pelts. Follow the clues for some sightings of these beautiful and reclusive creatures.  

Get a Tan while Looking for Pale Larkspur
If you’re more into what grows than what prowls in the park, then explore the world’s largest population of the endangered Pale Larkspur in the world. The plant, also known as Anderson’s Larkspur, is in the buttercup family and its genus name, “Delphinium” means “like a dolphin” because of the shape of its blue-purple flower buds.

Downward Dog
Dogs are prohibited at the park; however, you can at least stretch like one. Bring your yoga mat so that you can stretch deeply, breathe with intention and reach a heightened sense of awareness with a yoga session overlooking the amazing views.

Cooper Mountain Park
Location: 18892 SW Kemmer Road, Beaverton, OR 97007
Phone: (503) 629-6350
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park

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

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

Live Love Cache

Posted on: April 25th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
A spring day of geocaching at Jenkins Estate is a stellar way to experience nature.

A spring day of geocaching at Jenkins Estate is a stellar way to experience nature.

These days, technology infiltrates everything, including the outdoors. Geocaching is for tech nerds with hiking boots, sending adventurous souls on a treasure hunt using a Global Positioning System (GPS) to search for a “cache” of knickknacks hidden in the great outdoors. I, for one, was ecstatic to complete my first geocaching mission at Jenkins Estate. It did not disappoint.

There are four caches playfully concealed in the wood nooks and crannies of Jenkins Estate’s 68 acre property:

  • “T” Marks the Spot: N 45° 27.632 W 122° 53.620
  • Rock Chamber: N 45° 27.517 W 122° 53.356
  • Jenkins Estate Revisited: N 45° 27.755 W 122° 53.654
  • I:II Calculus: N 45° 27.890 W 122° 53.527
  • Out Behind the Shed: N 45° 27.714 W 122° 53.329

My two geocaching buddies and I chose the “Jenkins Estate Revisited” cache. While you can plug the coordinates into any GPS system, we used the “Geocaching Intro” smartphone app, which provides extra tips to newbies. With the right tools in hand, we entered the 2.5 miles of walking trails and—for a few moments—I’ll admit I forgot about the geocache. Spring bloom was intoxicating with the smell of soft soil and woodsy bark. I could see bright perennials and wildflowers peeking through the forest’s green. In a word: bliss.

After a pause for appreciation, I snapped back into cache-finding mode. As part of the geocaching code, I won’t spill where exactly we found the cache, but I will say that the search heightened my sense of awareness. Sure, I’ve appreciated the tall trees and the way the earth smells there after it rains, but looking for a hidden cache had me examining every leaf, fallen log, and creature-made trough. We only had to veer off the walking trail a bit, which gave us permission to experience nature from a new angle and with a new energy.

Of all the souvenirs one can take home from a visit to Oregon’s Washington County, a silly tchotchke from a local cache box might be one of the most fun. Completing our geocache mission, we dutifully replaced the toy knight we took with a locally-themed goody. Will you find it? Tell us if you do!

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

Pi Day in the Pi-cific Northwest

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
For Pi Day, take a 3.14 mile hike through Oregon's Washington County.

For Pi Day, take a 3.14 mile hike through Oregon’s Washington County.

It’s everyone’s favorite nerd holiday: Pi Day! Oregon’s Washington County is part of the Pacific Northwest’s high-tech country. The engineering powerhouses and innovative start-ups throughout our region have rightly earned our nickname of “Silicon Forrest.” With so many smarties calling here home—and visiting on business and pleasure—the day of 3.14 is a pretty big deal. See below, for some fun ways to celebrate.

Who knew math would give us an excuse to eat pie? That’s just what we’re going to do at Banning’s Restaurant and Pie House (11477 SW Pacific Highway, Tigard). The family run 24-hour diner makes homemade pies around the clock. Each of the diner’s 20 pies and cakes are made from scratch, seven days a week. From cream pies to fruit pies to chocolate pies, it’s hard to stick to just one kind. So, go ahead—have 3.14 slices.

If you think a pocket protector is geek-chic, then you’re going to love the VintageTek Museum (4620 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy., Portland; open Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The museum is dedicated to preserving vintage memorabilia from Tektronix, the local electronics company founded in 1945 that helped launch the development of today’s thriving “Silicon Forest.” Curious what an Oscilloscope looks like in person? Here’s your chance.

Are you ready for a Pi Day activity? The Cooper Mountain Nature Park has 3 ½ miles of trails (18892 SW Kemmer Road, Beaverton; open dawn to dusk). Now, we know that’s not 3.14 miles, but a little navigating could create a hike-length honoring the mighty Pi. With views of the Chehalem Mountains in front of you, wander through white oak, madrone woodlands, and a conifer forest.

Just like the mathematical constant of Pi, there are infinite ways to explore Oregon’s Washington County.

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

Girl Scout Vacation

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Camp like a Girl Scout at L.L. "Stub" Stewart Park with many badge worthy activities at your fingertips.

Camp like a Girl Scout at L.L. “Stub” Stewart Park with many badge worthy activities at your fingertips.

Woe is me! The Girl Scout cookie season is over. No more Thin Mints. Where did I hide my secret stash of Somoas? What I love most about Girl Scout cookie season, though, is asking the girls at the cookie stand about the colorful insignia peppering their sashes. Oregon’s Washington County is the perfect badge-earning Girl Scouts getaway. If you’re too old for a troop, then come here for a kitschy Girl-Scouts themed bachelorette party or girls’ trip!

Folklore Badge
An original Girl Scout badge was Folklore, where girls learned how American folk culture played into the country’s history. The Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route is dotted with historical sites like the Old Scotch Church. Here, learn about the Kalapuya Native Americans, as well as early Oregon Trail settlers.

Painting Badge
The Vine Gogh Artist Bar & Studio takes groups step-by-step through the painting process. The studio’s kids schedule includes cute pandas and an educational interpretation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Amphibians and Reptiles Badge
The House of Reptiles and Venomous Reptile Museum has a passionate staff for Reptile Parties. Ask about Pago and Priscilla, the Argentine black and white tegu lizard pair who are smart and social!

Triple Threat: Cyclist, Hiker, Sports Badges
Earn a sweep of badges at L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, which offers 21 miles of paved and multi-use trails for biking, hiking, and disc-golf. Spend the night in the park’s adorable cabins.

Naturalist Badge
Explore the environment with the interactive Nature Passport, which leads curious minds through nature walks in rural wetlands, refuges, river banks, and forests.

Locavore Badge
Girl Scouts created a slew of amazing, modern-minded badges like this one. Become a locavore pro at our farmers markets, u-pick farms, and the kid-friendly Sweet Story Bakery (who sources its blueberries from the farm co-op Our Table). Discuss art and food together at the nobleONI Café at the Oregon College of Art and Craft.  Chef Leather Storrs is a locavore crusader, bringing his passion for local food to the art school his father built.

You’re going to love Oregon’s Washington County—Scout’s Honor!

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

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

Trail of the Week: Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop

Posted on: September 23rd, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Spot an Egret taking a morning dip!

Spot an Egret taking a morning dip!

Lick those lips and get ready to bird call! This week’s Trail of the Week is about seeing feathered friends in their natural habitats. Just as visitors come to Oregon’s Washington County for its flourishing valleys and delectable foods, so do fauna in migration. Travel in style—like the birds do—and make yourself comfortable along the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop.

The loop, which is part of the 725-acre Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, welcomes a comfortable habitat for indigenous and migratory birds alike. Bald eagles, egrets, and red-tailed hawks are common dwellers along the path. The autumn season brings a host of other beautiful birds: Black-Capped Chickadee, Marsh Wren, and European Starling, and more. And there’s no reason to bring your iPod when the Song Sparrow and Cackling Goose are happy to add a soundtrack to your day. For a full list of birds on the loop, see the Jackson Bottom Wetlands’ Bird Checklist.

At the trailhead, the loop eases birders into the journey with a flat path that slowly acclimates into the foothills of the Chehalem Mountains. In addition to birds, trail-goers can take in the land that helps tell the story of Native American roots and modern viticulture. The route again relaxes into a flat path with access to Rood Bridge Park and its amenities.

For a guided experience, attend the Jackson Bottom Wetlands 10th Anniversary (September 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve). The preserve’s Education Center will be showing off recent restoration projects, including an eagle’s nest rescued from the wild. Members of the Audubon will showcase two live birds of prey (12 p.m. to 3 p.m.). The 10th Anniversary celebration will also engage bird lovers young and old with hands-of activities involving animal tracks, skulls, and pond life.

Fast Facts:
Length: 4 miles hiking
Type: hiking
Level: easy
Trailhead: Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, 2600 SW Hillsboro Highway, Hillsboro, OR 97123
GPS Coordinates: N45° 31.3736′, W122° 59.3896′

Please note: Pets and bicycles are prohibited

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

Trail of the Week: Westside Regional Trail

Posted on: September 16th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Start off your time on the Westside Regional Trail by exploring the trailhead's Interpretive Center

Start off your time on the Westside Regional Trail by exploring the trailhead’s Interpretive Center

Sometimes we hit the trails to get away from it all. This week’s Trail of the Week, the Westside Regional Trail, helps you do just that. But it also has a harder to find quality. Just as easily as one can find respite in the dense forest, the Westside Regional Tail also connects the wild to the city streets with fluidity and ease. The result is a highly functional, yet utterly gorgeous way to spend the day.

First, let’s talk accessibility. Getting to the Westside Regional Trail is as easy as a MAX ride. For an eco-friendly trip, take the MAX Blue Line to Merlo Rd/SW 158th Ave Station. From the station, cross the tracks and turn left onto Oak Trail, which leads into the Westside Regional Trailhead at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park & Interpretive Center.

The Tualatin Hills Nature Park & Interpretive Center is a great way to kick-off your time on the trail with its ecologically dense and diverse area. Its nature store is chock-full of outdoorsy goodies for kids and adults. Enamored with the wildlife you saw on the trail? Get a birdhouse and feeders to attract beautiful critters native to your home’s habitat.

Speaking of birds, myriad feathered creatures can be spotted along the Westside Regional Trail’s forests, meadows, and wetlands. A mix of soft dirt and paved trails connect these ecological communities. Hungry for more? The Westside Regional Trail also links up to the Forest Park, Tualatin River Greenway, and the National Wildlife refuge.

After your time on the trail, catch an eastbound MAX to downtown Beaverton for shopping and a treat. How can you not when you can travel between the forest and city streets lickety-split?   

Fast Facts:
Length: 8 miles
Type: walking, biking
Level: easy to moderate
Trailhead: Trail begins at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park & Interpretive Center

Read our past Trail of the Week: Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. The Inaugural Ride for Oregon’s tenth designated scenic bikeway is happening right now! Follow us along today’s ride with the #TVSB on Twitter and Instagram.

Trail of the Week: Rock Creek Trail

Posted on: September 9th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
After a frolic on the Rock Creek Trail, enjoy a treat at Rock Creek Corner. They're so local that even the building's exterior is made of local salvaged barn wood.

After a frolic on the Rock Creek Trail, enjoy a treat at Rock Creek Corner or Rock Creek Tavern. They’re so local that even the building’s exterior is made from the salvaged wood of once local barns.

Rock Creek Trail, despite its name, is far from rocky. It’s nicely paved path and gentle slope make for an easy walk, jog, or bike ride through a full scope of outdoor recreation hot spots: playgrounds, sports fields, ponds, meadows, forests, and wetlands.

Whatever brings you to Rock Creek Trail, start your journey at Bethany Lake Park. In addition to quaint fishing, here you’ll find a convenient trailhead for both the east side and west side routes of the Rock Creek Trail.

Cyclists may prefer the east side trail, which embarks on a longer 5-mile route. Take in gulps of fresh air as you pedal by open fields and meadows. While the trail is great for a solo joy ride, it’s also a friendly path for the little ones to practice being on two wheels. Not only is the Rock Creek Trail gentle, but also enticing with its string of playgrounds along the way. Say Ahoy, Matey! to Bethany Meadows Park, which has been affectionately dubbed “Pirate Park” by way of its two pirate ship play structures.

Keep going down the trail until you reach yet another playground at Kaiser Woods Park. Worn out from a day of play? It’s okay. Your ride back to the trailhead will be a literal breeze as you cruise downhill.

If you’d rather kick than pedal, the west side trail leads into the Rock Creek Soccer Fields. From Bethany Lake Park, simply take the bridge crossing over Rock Creek.

Returning from your playground date, gleeful bike ride, or rousing soccer game, why not grab some grub? Rock Creek Corner is a stone’s throw from the trailhead and—more importantly—it’s delicious and full of local charm. So local, in fact, that patrons often peek over the restaurant’s picket fence to see the garden where the mint from their mojitos and basil topping their pizzas comes from.

Fast Facts:
Length: East Trail is 5 miles, West Trail is 2.6 miles round trip
Type: walking, biking
Level: beginner
Trailhead: NW 185th Avenue and NW West Union Road, Portland, OR

Tune in next Monday! We’ll be chatting about Beaverton’s Westside Trail.

Read past installments of Trail of the Week:

Fanno Creek Trail
Tualatin River Water Trail
Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway (register for the Inaugural Ride here)

Introducing Trail of the Week

Posted on: August 12th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Ki-a-Kut Bridge leads pedestrians and bicyclists over the Tualatin River.

The Ki-a-Kut Bridge leads pedestrians and bicyclists over the Tualatin River.

Welcome to the official kick off of our Trail of the Week series. We’re constantly amazed by all the ways to enjoy the outdoors here in Oregon’s Washington County. From sporty runs to lackadaisical strolls, take on the trails upon trails and experience the stupendous beauty of the area. And hey, we haven’t forgotten about our cyclists and kayakers. In our book, bike paths and waterways are trails of sorts, too. So let’s get this who on the road—err, I mean trail.

The Fanno Creek Trail  is the type of trail you’ll want to do again and again. In fact, many people do frequent the trail on a regular basis. As the trail meanders through three different cities (Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Durham), walkers and leisure bicyclists are easily elevated Zen moment.

Stroll through a green pasture that takes you into Cook Park. Newbie and seasoned birdwatchers gather to gaze at winged blackbirds, common yellowthroats, blue herons, and waterfowl in the lush wetlands. For those interested in more dainty creatures, just stop by the adjacent Tupling Butterfly Garden, which is satiated with lush flora.

Continuing on, you’ll see how the Tualatin River flows alongside the well-maintained path. Cutting under the trestle on the trail, walkers and bikers can turn left for Durham City Park or right onto the Ki-a-Kuts Bridge. The pedestrian bridge sports a gorgeous view, with moss covered oak trees bouncing their emerald hues off the soft gurgling Tualatin River below.  Upon crossing the bridge, the river floodplain leads into the Tualatin Community Park.

If you head north toward Beaverton and beyond, it’s worth taking at peek at the Fanno Farmhouse, home of the 19th Century onion farmer Augustus Fanno. The picturesque yellow house is as cute as can be. Imagine ol’ farmer Augustus taking in the same beauty as you just did over a hundred years ago.

Fast Facts
Length: 18.6 miles
Type: walking, biking
Level: beginner
GPS coordinates: 45.404, -122.764

Tune in next week! With a smorgasbord of trails—from a bit off the beaten path to more paved and friendly—we can’t wait to show off a new trail in each weekly installment.

Bike your way through Oregon’s Washington County with the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Spring Break: It’s Not Just for Kids

Posted on: March 25th, 2013 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Who says Spring Break is just for kids or college students? It’s time to listen to your inner “Spring Breaker” with these tips for a springtime getaway in Oregon’s Washington County.

Create Your Own Beer & Spirits Tour

It’s no secret that when it comes to craft brews and spirits, Oregon is tops. One of the best-kept secrets, though, is the growing craft beer and distillery scene in Washington County.

To date, there are 10 breweries in the destination, including seven brew pubs and three taprooms where it’s all about the beer, and nothing but the beer (think wine tasting rooms, but for craft brew lovers). Two spirits tasting rooms are located here, including Indio Spirits, which has been producing craft whiskey, vodka and rum for nearly a decade and just opened a new tasting room in Tigard! Every Thursday through Saturday from 2-7 p.m. visitors can sample their wares, as well as tour the distillery.

View the beer and spirits offerings in Washington County. To help you craft your own beer and spirits tour, check out our Saké, Beer & Spirits Trail itinerary.

Play a Round (or Two) of Golf

Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek is one of 12 golf courses available for play in Oregon’s Washington County. (Photo by Scott Spiker)

With 12 semi-private and public golf courses in Oregon’s Washington County–ranging from nine-hole executive courses to 18 holes and up–there are plenty of tee times awaiting Spring Breakers. Grab the clubs and venture to Washington County for a golfing tour, or add a day of golf to a Spring Break itinerary.

Play one of the first courses built in the Pacific Northwest at the pristine and challenging Forest Hills Golf Course, or walk the same fairways as some of golf’s greatest players at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club or The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club (both have served as host sites for professional and celebrity tournaments). Don’t have time for a full game? Try the 18-hole putting course at Tualatin Island Greens, with each hole a miniature version of challenging holes from world-famous golf courses.

Have an Adventure

The year-round Banks-Vernonia State Trail remains one of Washington County’s top attractions for outdoor enthusiasts. This 21-mile (one-way) linear multi-use path was Oregon’s first rails-to-trails project, and takes hikers, cyclists and equestrians through forests and over trestles and bridges. Cyclists can rent bikes at Banks Bicycle Repair & Rental, located right at the beginning of the trail at the Banks trailhead.

Add some high-flying adventure to your Spring Break. Tree to Tree Adventure Park, an aerial ropes course and zip-line park, opens for the season on March 29th. Challenge yourself on the aerial ropes course: four courses of increasing difficulty, complete with 10 obstacles each to complete before zipping back to the ground.

Check off Birds on Your “Life List”

Spring marks migration season, and now through May, birders can get a sight of these magnificent migratory birds right here in Washington County. Several locations of nature parks and wildlife preserves offer fantastic bird watching opportunities. Updated attractions this season include the renovation of Fernhill Wetlands, with new amenities, including a Japanese garden, picnic shelter and restrooms.

Whether it’s for a weekend or a full week, plan your Spring Break getaway to Oregon’s Washington County. Create your own unique itinerary with our Trip Planner or view our sample itineraries.

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