What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Last Month of Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 4 Comments

Fall is fleeting—and so is your chance to enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

Okay, that was a bit dramatic. You still have a solid few weeks, as submissions are open through November 30. So why not plan a last-minute getaway with some photography buddies? Doing so is easy and affordable with chic hotels a short drive away from some of the best nature spots. The Century Hotel even overlooks the serene Lake of the Commons, and the McMenamins Grand Lodge hosts an impressive, whimsical garden of its own.

When we say “Focus on Autumn,” we really mean that in whatever way is authentic to you and your passions. If you’re wild for wildlife, then wake up early to catch the sunrise at one of the refuges listed in our Nature Passport. Oenophiles can hold a wine glass in one hand and a camera in the other while visiting vineyards throughout the northern Willamette Valley. Oregon’s bounty is full of all its rustic charm along the scenic tour route in the autumn—snap a picture of a friendly alpaca or a filbert farm. And of course, cyclists and hikers agree that some of the prettiest photo-ops come when you least expect it when trekking local trails.

Wondrous Wildlife

photo by Bruce Lee

photo by Bruce Lee

 

Vineyard Views

photo by Tina Collins

photo by Tina Collins

 

Fertile Farms

photo by John Gaudette

photo by John Gaudette

 

Tantalizing Trails 

photo by Larry Andreasen

photo by Larry Andreasen

 

From the beauty of these photographs, we hope that when we say don’t miss out on the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest, that we also mean that you simply shouldn’t miss out on the wonders of fall in the Tualatin Valley, period. Come experience Oregon’s best spots for fall—and bring your camera with you. Who knows? Your skills could earn the first prize, which includes $2,500 worth of photography gear!

Find more nature photo contest inspiration.


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Nature Passport: Magness Memorial Tree Farm

Posted on: October 27th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Enter an enchanted world at Magness Memorial Tree Farm, which is just minutes away from Portland.

Enter an enchanted world at Magness Memorial Tree Farm, which is just minutes away from Portland.

The Nature Passport is a treasure trove of Tualatin Valley’s nature hot spots, leading outdoor enthusiasts to the locations that look like they came straight out of a fairytale. For example, Magness Memorial Tree Farm is nestled in the woods via a tranquil nature walk that will lead you to the rustic log cabins that—if you have the right imagination—seem like they might belong to Hansel and Gretel (don’t worry, no witches here!).

Just 23 miles south of Portland, it’s easy to escape city life in favor of something a bit more earthy. Try and spot the more than 30 different species of trees. At the very least, it won’t be hard to identify the Giant Sequoia and Douglas Firs linking the 2.5 miles of hiking paths, as well as the flying squirrels jetting between them. For a little more help, take the free guided tour that is offered every Sunday at 2 p.m. Ask your guide to point out some stinging nettle, which is edible and taste like spinach!

On a dry day, Magness Memorial Tree Farm offers choice options for a picnic. Whether you’re going for a blown-out meal or simply an along-the-way snack, stop in downtown Sherwood on your way to your woodsy adventure. Symposium Coffee will give early-risers a jolt with a Stumptown coffee buzz and Sweet Story Bakery will provide a sugar rush to match.

Watch this segment from Grant’s Getaways explore the Magness Memorial Tree Farm:

Magness Memorial Tree Farm
Location: 31195 SW Ladd Hill Road, Sherwood, OR 97140
Phone: (503) 625-7471
Hours: Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. September-May; Daily 9 .a. – 7 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day

With so much eye candy around you, don’t forget to pack that camera. Whether it’s capturing a deer having breakfast in the morning light, the breathtaking view of the Coast Range or an artful stargazing time-lapse, share the best pictures from your visit with us via the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest. Who knows? Your picture could win you a prize package of pro-photography loot worth $2,500!

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

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

Nature Passport: Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve

Posted on: August 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Where has your summer led you? Or perhaps more pointedly, have you been using the Nature Passport to get yourself to outdoorsy hotspots in the Tualatin Valley? The Nature Passport is a handy—and free!—tool to use year-round. Bird and botany aficionados are using the Nature Passport to discover everything our parks and reserves have to offer, from its roots to what flies in its skies. Today, we’re flipping the page to the Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve page in the Nature Passport.

Open dawn to dusk, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserver offers shows off its birds against vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

Open dawn to dusk, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserver offers shows off its birds against vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

The Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve is more than 600 acres of natural bliss for birders, wildlife watchers, hikers and kids. The wetlands are fed by the Tualatin River floodplain. The preserve is marked by four miles of easy hiking trails via the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop.

So, what exactly are you going to experience while looping around the preserve? Majestic eagles, ribbit-happy frogs and the clove-like scent of the golden currants all create a symphony for the senses. Of course, what you see will change with the seasons. For a seasonally organized list of birds seen at the Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve, check out the Bird Checklist.

Curious kids and ever-learning adults should visit the preserve’s Education Center. See the first authentic bald eagles’ nest recovered from the wild on display and get the nitty-gritty details on the plants flourishing outside. It’s easy to see why the Wapato Native American tribe once was hunters-and-gathers from this fertile land.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
Location: 2600 SW Hillsboro Highway, OR 97123
Phone: (503) 681-6206
Hours: Dawn to dusk; Education Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands

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.

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!

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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!

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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.