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What are some good day trips from Portland where I can go hiking in the mountains?

4-5 days in Oregon might not be enough for your mountain-seeking soul, but we’ll work with what we’ve got. From Portland, your options are endless. If you just want to see a mountain, you can hike up to Pittock Mansion through Forest Park and you’ll be able to see Mt. St. Helens, the tip of Mt. Adams, and a very prominent Mt. Hood.

But if you want to get closer, you can drive a short 45-minutes toward Mt. Hood on Highway 35. My favorite hikes with breathtaking views of Mt. Hood include:

  1. Zig-Zag Mountain via Burnt Lake Trail
  2. Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain
  3. Horseshoe Ridge Hike from Cast Creek Trailhead
  4. Bald Mountain from Top Spur Trailhead
  5. McNeil Point from Top Spur Trailhead
  6. Owl Point from Vista Ridge
  7. Zig-Zag Overlook from Timberline Lodge
  8. Timberline Lodge (by itself, it’s a great place to check out and there are plenty of trails around it)
  9. Eliot Moraine Hike (awesome glacier views)
  10. Bald Butte Hike from Oak Ridge Trailhead (hike to a former fire lookout site)

If it’s alpine lakes and waterfalls you’re interested in finding, here are my favorites:

  1. Timothy Lake
  2. Ramona Falls
  3. Tamanawas Falls
  4. Umbrella Falls Loop
  5. Twin Lakes Hike
  6. Little Zig-Zag Falls
  7. Frog Lake Buttes Loop Hike (loop from a scenic viewpoint down to a lake and back up to another lake)
  8. Boulder Lakes Hike
  9. Lookout Mountain Loop Hike
  10. Paradise Park from Ramona Falls (Challenging!)

…and that’s just the Mt. Hood side.

If you wanted to take a day hike through the Columbia River Gorge (45 minutes from downtown Portland), I’d recommend:

  1. Multnomah Falls (very popular)
  2. Eagle Creek Falls
  3. Munra Point
  4. Angels Rest
  5. Larch Mountain (my all-time favorite)
  6. Oneata Falls (bring a dry-bag, the water is cold)
  7. Rock of Ages Loop Hike
  8. Elowah Falls Hike
  9. Tunnel Falls Hike from Eagle Creek Trailhead
  10. Dry Creek Falls from Bridge of the God Trailhead in Cascade Locks

If you have any questions about any of these, I’m happy to help.

I hope you have the best trip to Oregon!

Thanks a lot,

Kristen

Where can I photograph the most covered bridges in 3 days?

You can definitely photograph dozens of Oregon’s covered bridges in a three-day journey. How many you can hit just depends on how much driving you want to do and how early you want to get up and get started!

Assuming you start on the north end of the Willamette Valley and head south, I suggest sticking to the ones not far off the I-5 travel corridor. Here’s a recommended route for you:

Day 1: Marion, Polk, Benton, and Linn counties (10-13 bridges)

Start with the ones in the Salem vicinity:

  • Gallon House Bridge, northeast of Silverton
  • Stayton-Jordan Bridge, east of Sublimity
  • Ritner Creek Bridge south of Dallas.

Head south to Corvallis:

  • Irish Bend Bridge in Corvallis
  • Harris Bridge just west of Corvallis (There is a wonderful winery right next to the Harris Bridge! Call ahead and schedule a tasting appointment, or pack a picnic and take a lunch break there.)

Head east to Albany to view five covered bridges clustered in a loop near Scio: (Follow the driving directions.)

  • Gilkey
  • Hannah
  • Hoffman
  • Larwood
  • Shimanek

This would probably be a pretty full day, but if you have more time and energy, continue east to Cascadia, where you’ll find:

  • Short Bridge

Turn around and head back to Sweet Home:

  • Weddle Bridge

From there take Highway 228 to Crawfordsville:

  • Crawfordsville Bridge

At this point, spend the night somewhere (there’s a great bed & breakfast in Brownsville, or a nice hotel and RV resort in Harrisburg)

 

Day 2: Lane County (11-18 bridges) Lane County has more remaining covered bridges than any other area of the state — probably more than you could see in a day, but there are clusters of them around the Fall Creek/Lowell/Dexter area and near Cottage Grove.

You could start off just south of Eugene:

  • Coyote Creek

Then head out toward the cluster near Fall Creek:

  • Pengra
  • Unity
  • Lowell
  • Parvin

Then head for the cluster near Cottage Grove:

  • Centennial
  • Chambers Railroad
  • Currin
  • Stewart
  • Mosby Creek
  • Dorena

That would put you at 11 bridges for the day. You could head back to Eugene to spend the night, or stay in Cottage Grove. Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove is supposed to be really nice.

 

Day 3: Douglas/Jackson County (9 bridges)

Just over the county line of Douglas County:

  • Pass Creek

Further south:

  • Rochester

Near Myrtle Creek:

  • Horse Creek
  • Neal Lane

Continuing south into Josephine County:

  • Grave Creek

East of Grants Pass toward Rogue River:

  • Wimer

Near Medford:

  • Antelope Creek
  • Lost Creek

If you have time you could also continue south to

  • McKee

 

I also suggest getting your hands on the map put out by the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon, if you don’t have it already!

What is the weather at the Coast like in September?

Is is sunny or rainy on the Oregon Coast in September? Yes!

In case my sense of humor does not translate, you should be prepared for rain just about any time you visit the Oregon Coast, though September often offers some of the most dependably sunny weather of the year. September’s high temperatures average in the mid to high 60s f (18.5-20c). Low temperatures average in the mid 40s to low 50s (8-10.5c). Rain showers are not uncommon, though September is one of the drier months of the year averaging 2-3.5 inches (5-9cm) for the month and the chance of rain increases toward late September and October. I recently wrote a story about the unpredictable weather on the Oregon Coast and you might enjoy reading that on the Coast Explorer website.

Mid-September is a very popular time on the Oregon Coast and often, when asked, I will say it is my favorite time of year here. Although there may be fewer families traveling (with children back in school), I would suggest making advance reservations for accommodations, especially on weekends or at popular destinations.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 29th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

We want to tour craft breweries in Oregon; what cities should we visit?

Good news, there are at least six Oregon cities to visit with amazing beer — but that may count as bad news, too. Here they are, with my best-bets for breweries:

  • Portland. They don’t call it “Beervana” for nuthin. There are scores of breweries here, and it’s hard to go too far wrong. The inner Southeast has the richest vein of good breweries, and you can do a walking tour of several of them. Hair of the Dog is just across from downtown on the Morrison Bridge (good for big, barrel-aged beers). A bit further east is the Commons, which makes wonderful farmhouse ales. A bit further east is the Cascade Barrel House, which makes amazing sour ales. Other highly recommended breweries are Breakside, Upright, Gigantic, Deschutes, and Widmer. (There are even more, but this is a great start.)
  • Bend. For a small town, it really has a crazy amount of breweries. The original Deschutes is there, along with several other great choices: Boneyard, Crux, Worthy, and Bend Brewing.
  • Hood River. While Portland and Bend get most of the attention, I’d actually nominate Hood River has having the state’s best beer. It was where Full Sail got started, and brewers from that brewery have gone on to found some absolutely astonishing places, Double Mountain, pFriem, and Solera (actually a short drive away, in Parkdale). The founder of Wyeast yeast labs also founded a farmhouse brewery — in an actual farm just outside of Hood River — called Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. pFriem, Logsdon, and Solera have amazing views.
  • Astoria. The Northern Oregon Coast has some great beer, too. Fort George and Astoria Brewing (Wet Dog Cafe) have recently been joined by Buoy, which is a fabulous brewpub right on the bay.
  • Eugene. In the southern Willamette Valley, Eugene has a growing stable of great breweries: Ninkasi, Oakshire, Falling Sky, and Hop Valley. Just outside of town is Agrarian.
  • Corvallis. Not far from Eugene, Corvallis has also got two of Oregon’s best breweries in Block 15 and Flat Tail — both a short stroll from one another.

Even if you’re not in one of these cities, make sure you look around (the Oregon Brewers Guild has a good listing by region) because chances are there’s a good brewery nearby.

Answered by Jeff Alworth, Ask Oregon Beer Expert on July 22nd, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Are there lakes we can kayak in the Eugene and Roseburg area?

I love kayaking — and it’s a great vacation idea! Here are a few spots in that area you might try:

  • Fern Ridge Reservoir is a really big lake just a few miles west of Eugene with nice park areas on the shore and plenty of room for kayaking.
  • Willamette River is not a lake, but the Willamette is very popular for canoeing and kayaking. A few years ago, Canoeroots Magazine called it the “canoe trip of a lifetime.” It’s mostly peaceful flatwater paddling with lots of places to watch wildlife. Check out this site for info on kayaking the Willamette and a map about river conditions and any water hazards or alerts to be aware of in each section of the river.
  • Waldo Lake is a bit of a trek up into the mountains, and if you don’t mind a drive into the Cascades, Waldo Lake is one of the prettiest, purest natural lakes in the state.
  • Loon Lake is a drive the other direction — into the Coast Range to the west of Eugene and Roseburg. But it’s one of my favorite lakes to visit, especially if you have any kids along (it has a really nice beach and kids play area).

You can rent equipment from several places:

  • Northwest Canoe in Alton Baker Park, which is right on the Willamette in Eugene
  • Skookum Marine, which offers canoe/kayak rentals on the banks of Fern Ridge Reservoir
  • Oregon Paddle Sports is a local place in Eugene where you can rent any kayaks or gear you might need, and the staff there will also be able to give you all kinds of expert recommendations on local paddle spots
  • Clear Lake, another lake that is a little farther north, is extremely beautiful and you can rent rowboats and kayaks on the lake shore
,

Is Newport worth the trip from Yachats and Florence?

Newport has many great attractions that you might not want to miss. The historic bay front is uniquely interesting, a mix of tourist attractions and working waterfront. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is on my top 10 list of places not to miss. It’s got a beautiful lighthouse, great views, bird watching, seal watching and beautiful tide pools if you visit at a low tide. The Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport is a fantastic facility. Near Newport, Devil’s Punchbowl in Otter Rock is always worth a visit. There are also several great restaurants in Newport. If I chose between Nye Beach and Agate Beach, it would be Agate Beach. Both are pretty much just flat stretches of beach, but Agate Beach is closer to Yaquina Head and more scenic to me. In general, I prefer the beaches away from Newport and concentrate on the other attractions there.

That said, when it comes to where to stay, I do like Yachats because it is close to the amazing Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and Heceta Head. To the north is Seal Rock and you could make Newport area attractions a day trip from Yachats if you don’t check those off your list as you are headed down the Coast. Yachats is a small town with limited restaurants and shops. Florence is a fun town with good shops and restaurants, but keep in mind it is on the river and is not a beach destination.

Washburne State Park and Honeyman State Park (in the Oregon Dunes) are both great parks and campgrounds. Washburne puts you closer to beach attractions like those in and near the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and Heceta Head. I love the hike from Washburne to the Heceta Head Lighthouse. The Hobbit Trail is shorter, leading to a sandy beach. Honeyman State Park has a nice nature trail, but beyond that you are trudging through dunes (not a bad thing, but not really a trail). Honeyman is surrounded by dune areas open to ATVs, so as you get further from the park’s core, the more you hear and see ATVs. Keep in mind, Honeyman also has a freshwater lake for swimming too. I hope this doesn’t make your choice harder, but for hiking the dunes, my choice would be the John Dellenback Dunes Trail near the Eel Creek Campground in Lakeside. You really get the feeling of the immensity of the dunes and ATV noise is as minimal as any other area I’ve found. A second choice for hiking would be setting off from the Oregon Dunes Day Use area south of Honeyman State Park. It makes an easy trek to the ocean, at least as easy as it can be walking through dunes.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 11th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

What are the best golf courses to play as we head south down I-5?

There are several fun Oregon courses to play while traveling down Interstate 5. While in Portland, check out Langdon Farms just off the freeway. It’s a great course with great views of the Cascade mountains. There are a variety of tees so can be interesting for all levels of play. Not far from I-5, Pumpkin Ridge in North Plains is one of the most famous public courses that has hosted several big events, including the USGA Championships. Those are just some of the many courses you can access in the Portland area.

For the the Willamette Valley, there is a great course called Emerald Valley Country Club in Creswell. It’s flat, easy to walk and not very expensive. But it’s also famous for hosting several NACC and high-level competitions. However, you have plenty of options in Lane County.

Southern Oregon has many great courses. One of my favorites is a Bob Cupp design called Centennial Golf Club, located in Medford. It too is walkable and more of a links kind of experience in the heart of the state. If you are traveling right down the 5, another cool course is called Grants Pass Golf Club. Play a quick 18 and then go back on the road if you so choose. Of course, there are also plenty of other courses in Southern Oregon.

Throughout all this travel are fantastic wine tasting options for you to consider. Remember, no sales tax in Oregon, so drink up.

Answered by Noel Lucky, Ask Oregon Golf Expert on July 5th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

What are your favorite U-pick berry farms around Salem?

Berry picking is one of my favorite things to do in the summer! Greens Bridge Garden in Jefferson, a little south of Salem, is one of our family’s favorite U-pick farms. They have a really large variety of fruits and berries to pick, and they have a nice little farmstand store as well.

In addition to Greens Bridge, there are a number of other U-pick farms:

U-PICK BERRIES

- Green Bridge Gardens

- Fordyce Farm

French Prairie Gardens

Boones Ferry Berry Farm

Harpole’s Produce

Haven Hill Farm

Where can two teenagers and their mom have an outdoor adventure near Portland?

Oregon is a great place for teenagers (and you!) You definitely won’t need camping stuff, but if you could pack a pair of sturdy shoes to hike in, you might be happy you did! There are plenty of hikes in the area that are just under an hour drive to get to. And there are plenty of places to hike within Portland as well!

My top recommendations:

  1. Angels Rest
  2. Eagle Creek Hike
  3. Multnomah Falls Loop Hike
  4. Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain
  5. Ramona Falls Hike

None of these hikes are too strenuous and you won’t need camping gear for them.

Places to hike in Portland are:

  1. Lower MacLeay Park to Pittock Mansion
  2. Leif Erikson Trailhead
  3. Washington Park Japanese and Rose Gardens
  4. Wildwood Trail through Forrest Park
  5. Mt. Tabor Reservoir Hike

What’s an interesting route to Newport? My 9-year-old is a big fan of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

The Newport area is great for kids. In addition to Ripley’s, there is also Undersea Gardens and Wax Works wax museum on the historic bayfront and the fabulous Oregon Coast Aquarium on the north side of the bay. The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is a great place for all ages. It’s a good place to spot harbor seals, observe bird life and it has a vibrant tidepool area accessed by stairway, so plan your visit for a low tide.

On the way to or from Newport you could include Seaside on your itinerary. It is the Coast’s most family friendly city with many family attractions. Your nine-year-old would likely be most interested in the large arcade (Funland), bumper cars, perhaps the indoor carousel and, for sure, the many candy stores. You can feed seals at the small and classic Seaside Aquarium, a much different experience than the elaborate Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. You could then enjoy a scenic drive along the coast to Newport.

If you have the time, you could also consider traveling further down the Coast to Sea Lion Caves in Florence. Newport to Florence is a beautifully scenic drive.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on June 14th, 2015 - Post Your Answer
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