What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Trail of the Week: Tualatin River Water Trail

Posted on: August 19th, 2013 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Paddling the Tualatin River, you'll see Oregon's Washington County in a whole new way.

Paddling the Tualatin River, you’ll see Oregon’s Washington County in a whole new way.

Every trail has its peak season. Whether it’s catching the autumn change of oak trees or it’s simply the perfect temperature for hitting the trail, we all feel the seasons through the changing nature of the trails we use. Water trails are, of course, no exception. In the last days of summer, feeling the soft splash of the Tualatin River come off of a kayak or canoe oar is nothing short of delightful.

Instead of the usual tromp through the forest, paddle down the Tualatin River Water Trail. To make it easy, the Tualatin Riverkeepers’ affordable kayak and canoe rentals are stationed at Cook Park—but only through Labor Day!

Along the 40 mile stretch of the Tualatin River Water Trail, paddlers can find swimming deer, turtles, eagles, and even otters. Nature lovers can truly unwind and experience wildlife from a new angle.

As the river is a friendly one (and a life jacket is included with your boat rental), The Tualatin River Water Trail is the ideal first experience for new kayakers and canoeists. Simply paddle at your own place and enjoy the easy-breezy style of water trail travel. Kayaks, canoes, and lifejackets are available to rent from the Tualatin Riverkeepers through September 2, 2013. The Tualatin Riverkeepers are located at Cook Park (17005 SW 92nd Avenue, Tualatin, Oregon). Rental hours are Friday through Sundays (and Labor Day), 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Rental rates are $30 per canoe or tandem kayak, $20 per solo kayak. After four hours, there is an additional $10 charge per additional hour of use.

Fast Facts
Length: 40 miles, with various access points    
Type: kayaking, canoeing
Level: beginner
Map: Tualatin Riverkeepers Paddler Map

Tune into the next installment of Trail of the Week! We will be shifting gears, going from paddles to pedals. With the Inaugural Ride for the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway less than a month away, we are thrilled to take some time to talk about how beautiful and fun this ride is. Can’t wait? Register for the Inaugural Ride now.

Did you catch our first Trail of the Week installment? Don’t miss out on the Fanno Creek Trail—it allows you to walk alongside the Tualatin River instead of paddling in it!

Exploring the Outdoors: Birds, Snakes and Venemous Creatures

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

The rebirth that spring brings every year is evident everywhere you look in Oregon’s Washington County. From the blooming flowers and the sweet sounds of the songbird to mother ducks walking about with their ducklings and the tadpoles swimming in ponds, the circle of life is on display to be discovered and admired. One day, on a shiny, warm afternoon, I set out to discover more about the nature that surrounds us, and explored several locations that are worthy of exploration–for adults and children alike.

The beauty of spring is on full display in Oregon's Washington County. (Pictured: Jackson Bottom Wetlands, May 2012))

First stop was Jackson Bottom Wetlands, a 725-acre wetlands preserve, and home to the only known authentic bald eagle’s nest on public display. Ed Becker, natural resources manager for the preserve, took me and my group out to explore the trails. As we took a leisurely walk along a portion of one of the 4-plus miles of trail on the property, we were greeted with the signs of spring: sparrows singing, a bald eagle in flight, as well as a host of birds lounging by the water, from egrets to ducks. We were given a “Bird Species Checklist” at the start, with a comprehensive (and impressive) list of the nearly 200 species of birds that have been spotted there.

Before we left for the next stop, we were invited back to see the annual migration of garter snakes, as they emerge from their underground homes out onto the preserve. Since I have an irrational fear of snakes, I will be passing on this event, but all who are fascinated by our reptilian neighbors can venture to watch this act of nature, as the snakes are expected to come above ground any day now.

Jackson Bottom Wetlands (2600 SW Hillsboro Highway, Hillsboro; 503-681-6206; jacksonbottom.org) is open daily, admission is free (donations suggested). The Education Center is open  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the trails are open from dawn to dusk. (Dogs and bicycles are prohibited.)

Next stop was the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, one of only a handful of national urban refuges in the U.S. We ventured out along the one-mile trail into the forested area, and stopped to take in the soothing sounds of the Tualatin River that runs through the refuge. We didn’t spot any wildlife while visiting, but I’ve been told that things really get hopping in the morning or before dusk when many birds and other wildlife are out and about.

Visitors can request a “discovery kit,” which is a backpack full of tools and guides to turn a stroll through the refuge into a fact-finding adventure. These kits, available on loan at no charge, are perfect for families and others who are looking to make their visit to the refuge a fun, hands-on and educational experience. In addition to trails, the refuge also has a Wildlife Center, which provides a historical overview of the area, including during the pioneer days, and a nature store filled with fun activities and gifts for all ages.

The trails at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (19255 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood; 503-625-5944; fws.gov/tualatinriver) are open daily, from dawn until dusk, and admission is free. The Wildlife Center is open Tuesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free. (Dogs and bicycles are prohibited.)

Our final stop was the  House of Reptiles and Venomous Reptile Museum. This place, filled with creepy, crawly creatures, was a fascinating addition to our exploration of Oregon’s Washington County. The store itself, the House of Reptiles, with its collection of more than 100 species of creatures, provided an interesting glimpse into the lives of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Among the animals available for sale (as well as the live insects, such as the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, which is used as food for the animals) are those that have been rescued. These rescued “pets,” including a boa constrictor and alligator, are not for sale, but are interesting to look at, nonetheless.

The Venomous Reptile Museum, which opened to the public in February and is the only museum of its kind in the region, features an array of live, venomous reptiles. We viewed them safely behind glass, while interpretive signs explained the types of venom produced by these ominous creatures and the effect venom has on humans. Needless to say, I got out of there quickly, and headed back into the store with the non-venomous reptiles.

The House of Reptiles (11507 SW Pacific Highway, Tigard; 503-722-1992; house-of-reptiles.com) is open daily (hours vary); admission to the Venomous Reptile Museum is $3 per person.

Build your own Outdoor Adventure itinerary by checking out the many natural spaces and attractions throughout Oregon’s Washington County.

In addition to trails, the refuge also has a Wildlife Center, which provides a historical overview of the area, including during the pioneer days, and a nature store filled with fun activities and gifts for all ages.

Surviving Winter Break: Escape to Oregon’s Washington County

Posted on: December 9th, 2011 by Sylke Neal-Finnegan No Comments

Let’s face it, by the time winter rolls around, we’re ready for a break, and if you have kids-especially teenagers–you know they are chomping at the bit to get out of the house. Why wait until summer for a weekend or week-long getaway? Winter is a fabulous time to venture to Oregon’s Washington County.  The following is quick look at what’s going on this season:

Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals

FOR ARTS & CULTURE BUFFS: ‘Tis the season for arts and culture to take the spotlight, from performing arts to art exhibitions.  

  • Local professional theatre companies Bag&Baggage and Broadway Rose offer a year-round slate of productions, including special holiday-themed performances.
  • The Glenn and Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center has a strong performing arts calendar featuring a diverse array of musical performances, spoken word and poetry readings.
  • Through April 12, 2012, the Washington County Museum is home to its latest exhibit, Snapshot!, an impressive and extensive collection of photography equipment, objects depicting home and farm life and numerous historic images.
  • Print Arts Northwest has a calendar of several different art exhibitions with varying themes, featuring established and up-and-coming artists from the Pacific Northwest.

See the complete list of performing arts companies and venuesart galleries and museums and historical sites in Washington County.

FOR TEEN SPORTS FANS: See the brightest high school athletes compete in the annual basketball tournament and slam dunk contest.

Watch the college and NBA stars of tomorrow duke it out on the basketball courts when the annual Les Schwab Invitational hits the court December 26-30. This year’s tournament features the top basketball teams in Oregon and welcomes nationally ranked teams Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA), Yates High School (Houston, TX) and Riverside Academy (New Orleans, LA).

Great Blue Heron (Photo: Ed Bustya)

FOR WILDLIFE ENTHUSIASTS: Catch a glimpse, or take a photo of wildlife and birds as they “winter” in Oregon. 

Not all birds fly south for the winter. Various species prefer to stay in the peaceful nature preserves of Washington County. Heron, geese, eagles, hawks, pheasants, quail, chickadees, wrens, and the occasional seagull, along with beavers, otters, coyote and deer, can be spotted in various locations throughout the area. Best places to view wildlife are the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (TRNWR), Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve and Tualatin Hills Nature Park, to name a few.  See what common, uncommon and rare species of birds and more can be found with the TRWNR’s handy Watchable Wildlife guide (PDF).



FUN FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY: The family that plays together will find a host of winter-fun activities in Oregon’s Washington County.

It may be a challenge to find activities that will entertain teens, while inspiring adults.  Try these family-friendly ideas on for size:

Countless hours of activities and a multitude of attractions are waiting to be explored in Oregon’s Washington County.  The question isn’t what can you do in Washington County? It’s when can you get here?


Related Articles:  


Outdoor Summer Fun in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: May 5th, 2010 by Guest Blogger No Comments

Get ready for some outdoor fun!  Here are some great ideas from our partners that represent one of the greatest assets in Washington County: nature (and everything in it).

Tualatin-Riverkeepers-logoThis summer, the Tualatin Riverkeepers is offering a bounty of scheduled events for kids and adults of all ages, including parent-child hikes and paddle trips along the Tualatin River.  For kids from ages 4-13, there are six summer sessions of  nature day-camps,  a series of daylong camps with different themes to encourage awareness of and love for the natural world.  See details.

For more information, read the Riverkeepers’ informative quarterly newsletter, “The Green Herald”.


salamanderSign_kidsite_RefugeThe Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge also has plenty of summertime activities for the entire family, such as guided ‘Night Creature Walks’, where explorers can experience the mysteries of the Refuge after the sun goes down.  

While visiting the Refuge, don’t forget to borrow a Nature Discovery Pack, a backpack full of activities, binoculars, field guides and nature journals. The packs are loaned to guests, free of charge, during visitor center hours.

Get the family excited for a trip to the Refuge, thanks to the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife’s recently launched website (recommended for children, ages 5+). This interactive site features learning sessions, quizzes, and a chance to earn a free tree to plant in your own backyard. (Supplies are limited.)