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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

Where can we hike somewhere close to McMinnville or Dundee?

Dundee and McMinnville are beautiful areas! Most of the countryside directly surrounding Dundee and McMinnville is covered in vineyards, and some vineyards actually have hiking or walking trails. Here are a few to check out:

  • Sokol Blosser, just outside Dundee: they have a guided vineyard hike you can sign up for.
  • Winter’s Hill Vineyard, Dundee Hills: They’re an official stop on the Willamette Valley Birding Trail, and they have a native oak savannah you can hike through.
  • A little further south, Left Coast Cellars and Eola Hills Legacy Estate vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills, and Tyee Wine Cellars in Corvalls all have hiking trails onsite.
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area is a low-key, easy hike through a state park with a lot of interesting history.
  • Erratic Rock State Natural Site has a trail leads you to a hillside with amazing views over the valley and into the Coast Range, and at the top is a 90-ton boulder that was deposited there by Ice Age floods thousands of years ago.
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What are the best places to camp in the Mt. Hood National Forest?

There really isn’t a bad place to camp in the Mt. Hood National Forest. For starters, you should bookmark this complete list of campgrounds in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

If you don’t like crowds, the Lost Creek Campground off Lolo Pass Road would be a good option for you. It’s near many hiking trails, such as the ever popular Ramona Falls. Another option is the Green Canyon Campground on the Salmon River. It does get pretty busy, but there are lots of spots you can hike in to next to the river and camp, and some beautiful trails in the area.

While wildly popular, and usually crowded on a sunny weekend, our favorite spot to camp is one of the many campgrounds around Timothy Lake.

We’ve never been west of the Rockies! What are the cannot-miss spots in Oregon?

I actually grew up in South Dakota so I definitely want you to have an amazing time. And I am absolutely sure you will!

Highway 101 down the Coast is an amazing drive. I’d highly, highly recommend this over taking I-5 South. There are tide pools, the Goonies House, crabbing, local surf spots, delicious seafood shacks, more tide pools, rocky beaches and caves… ahh. You should definitely check out the coast. It’s unlike the sandy beaches of California and is a lot more “wild.”

My favorite coastal spots are:

  1. Astoria, OR
    • Fort Stevens State Park has a really awesome old shipwreck on the beach and a great campground.
  1. Cannon Beach
    • Haystack Rock is a must-see.
  1. Oswald West State Park aka Short Sands Beach
    • If you want to try your hand at surfing, this is the local favorite.
  1. Tillamook
    • Tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory and taste some amazing ice cream.
  1. Newport
    • Visit Seal Rock, the Historic Bayfront District and Nye Beach.
  1. Florence
    • You’ll want to check out the South Jetty, Honeyman State Park and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area

If you’re heading toward Portland, I recommend:

  1. Angels Rest hike
  2. Eagle Creek hike
  3. Anything in Hood River
  4. Larch Mountain hike
  5. Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain hike
  6. Forrest Park via Wildwood Trail
  7. Mt. Tabor Park
  8. Stumptown coffee
  9. Blue Star Doughnuts
  10. Por Que No?! Taqueria
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I have a week to spend in Southern Oregon in early June. Any suggestions?

You’ll be in Southern Oregon during one of our prettiest months! Without knowing what type of activities you enjoy, or who will be in your party, I’d recommend a combination of art, dining and outdoor pursuits in the area. A good home base is Ashland, where you can take in a Shakespearean play with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, dine at one of our many farm-to-table restaurants, and take a stroll along Creek street on a weekend to see the work of local artisans. I recommend eating at Sesame, Brickroom and Liquid Assets during your stay.

From Ashland, you can take a day trip to float the Rogue River with Noah’s Rafting, or set out on your own to raft the section of the Upper Rogue from Shady Cove (we like working with Rapid Pleasure, because they’ll give you a shuttle service to the put-in point along with your raft rental). If you’d rather hike, try Pilot Rock if you’re not afraid of heights, or the trails at Mt. Ashland Ski Area. You can also take a day trip to Crater Lake National Park…a must see.

In nearby Medford, the weekly farmer’s market is lovely in the Lithia Commons, and Rogue Creamery always has fresh, award-winning cheese in Central Point. In historic Jacksonville, try the Applegate Wine Trail, or take a day to swim at Applegate Lake. A walk along the downtown area of this tiny town is worth the effort, too!

Further north, the Umpqua area near Roseburg offers waterfalls, river swimming, and hiking along the North and South Umpqua, though the water will still be running a bit fast for most swimmers. From Grants Pass to the coast on the Redwoods Highway, you can stop at Oregon Caves National Historic Site and be on the coast at Brookings within a few hours.

What are the best places to take photographs on the Coast?

If enter Oregon at Brookings, you may want to make Harris Beach State Park your first stop, especially if you are there during low tide. Harris Beach is one of Oregon’s seven Marine Gardens that are protected intertidal areas. There are also interesting rock formations and this is a good marine life and bird-watching area. In any case, you will want to save some time for exploring the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, a 12-mile stretch of coast beginning just north of Brookings. There are several great stops. The easiest ones with great scenic bang for the buck include Whaleshead Beach, Natural Bridges and the Arch Rock Viewpoint. If you have time for a short hike, there may be none better than Thunder Rock Cove made a little longer by continuing to Secret Beach.

The drive north to Port Orford is scenic and you will be tempted to stop, but my favorite stops for photography include the Otter Point State Recreation Site just north of Gold Beach and the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. I would take at least a full day in the Bandon area. The beach at Bandon is one of the best for photography with dramatic rocky spires and other rock formations along the shoreline and just offshore. Seals are frequently seen below Coquille Point at Elephant Rock. The Coquille River Lighthouse is just north of town and is worth a visit. North of Bandon, you can follow the Bandon to Charleston Tour Route to Cape Arago – a must stop for photographers. You’ll find it hard to pull yourself away from the amazing views along the paved walkways and hiking trails at Shore Acres State Park. The short hike from Shore Acres to Simpson Reef is one of my favorites. Simpson Reef is one of the best places on the Oregon Coast to observe seals and sea lions. Bring your longest lens for amazing shots. You can also drive to Simpson Reef and then the end of the Cape at Cape Arago State Park for more great views. If it’s low tide, the South Cove is a remarkable tidepool area.

The Oregon Dunes is the next amazing natural area as you travel north. Much of the easily accessed areas are set aside for ATVs, so as a photographer, I prefer places like the Oregon Dunes Day Use Overlook (with dune access) and Honeyman State Park for shooting. The best dunes photography I’ve enjoyed requires hiking the John Dellenback Dunes Trail near the Eel Lake Campground,

I’d reserve another full day for the Heceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Perpetua and Yachats area. There are highway viewpoints of the Heceta Head Lighthouse just past Sea Lion Caves, but it is worth the half-mile hike up to the beautiful lighthouse from the State Park. You could spend days within the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, but not to miss are Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well at Cooks Chasm and Devils Churn just to the north. These are best a mid-to-high tides for the most exciting ocean action, but this is great tidepool area too. On cloudy or overcast days, the rainforest trails make a nice option.

As you continue north, I like to check out Seal Rock State Recreation Site. There are scenic overlooks and the beach can be quite interesting especially at low tide. I would save a majority of my time on this leg of your journey for the natural areas near Newport. The Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site offer good views of the beautiful Yaquina Bay Bridge and Oregon’s only wooden lighthouse. Just north of town is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, great for scenic photography including a pretty lighthouse and marine life and bird watching. If you can plan your visit for low tide, a stairway leads to another of Oregon’s Marine Gardens, a great place to photograph purple sea urchins. Just north of Newport is the Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area, another must stop. You’ll also want to check out the view from the Cape Foulweather lookout.

If you have time, follow the Three Capes Scenic Route turning off at Pacific City for views of Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout, though the easiest stop for lots of scenic opportunity is Cape Meares with its lighthouse. For the rest of the North Oregon Coast, I would reserve most of my time for the area near Cannon Beach. There’s an amazing viewpoint as you travel north of Manzanita and the highway climbs the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain. Potential stops as you continue include Short Sand Beach, a short walk away in Oswald West State Park and Hug Point – a must stop if its low tide where a picturesque waterfall flows onto the beach just around the point north of the parking area. Cannon Beach itself is home to Haystack Rock, great for tidepools or for framing as a foreground at sunset, along with the rocky spires known as The Needles nearby. Watch the grassy flanks of Haystack Rock for Tufted Puffins. It’s one of the best places to see the colorful birds in the Northwest. Ecola State Park would be my other don’t miss stop. The main viewpoint is fabulous and the Indian Beach area is also amazing.

Lastly, you probably won’t want to miss photographing the remains of the 1906 shipwreck Peter Iredale in Fort Steven State Park as you approach Astoria.

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 16th, 2015 - Post Your Answer

Where are the best places for rock hounds near Salem?

Fun question! There are a few places in the Willamette Valley that are known as being great for rockhounding.

The areas surrounding the South Santiam River, the Calapooia River, and Quartzville creek (all of these are about an hour southeast of Salem) are popular with rockhounders and folks who pan for gold as well. Also, check out this website and this BLM brochure for the Quartzville Mining Corridor.

Another fun place for rock-lovers is called Holleywood Ranch. It’s located in the hills outside of Sweet Home (again, southeast of Salem, near to the other locations I’m mentioning). It is a piece of private land that happens to have huge deposits of petrified wood and rocks. They’ve opened it up to the public for folks who want to come pay a small fee and dig for their own petrified wood. It’s a fascinating place!

For more information, the Bureau of Land Management provides great resources on rockhounding in Oregon and might be able to help you track down more locations.

Can I pack skydiving, hiking, camping and paragliding into 10 days in Oregon?

Ten days is the perfect amount of time to have the greatest vacation, ever.

If you’re starting in Portland, I’d recommend taking a day to check out the city. It sounds like you and I like all of the same things, so I’m going to give you a hot and fast list of what I would do.

Day 1: Portland

  • Voodoo Doughnuts
  • Stumptown Coffee
  • The International Rose Garden at Washington Park
  • Pittock Mansion

Day 2-3: Skydiving, then the Oregon Coast

  • Check out Skydive Oregon in Molalla. I’ve jumped here before and on a clear day, you can see every volcano on the horizon from Mt. Rainier, to Mt. Hood, St. Helens, Thielsen, Shasta, St. Helens and Bachelor.
  • After your nerves settle, I’d head for the Coast. Lincoln City, to be specific.
  • Check out Devil’s Lake State Park, set up camp and then hit the beach. Lincoln City has great beaches and a lot of fun things to do.
  • You can go glass blowing, paragliding, surfing (get a wet suit- it will be cold-but fun!) and my favorite, hiking!
  • Check out Cascade Head. If you don’t and you see a photo of it at any other point in your life, you’ll seriously regret not going.
  • Camp for a night or two or just stay here the whole time because it’s awesome.

Day 4: More Coast

Just under two hours driving, if you head south on the 101 toward Florence, you’ll find plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of things to keep you occupied. From lighthouses to more paragliding outfitters and surf shops, to Cape Perpetua and the Hobbit Trail to Seal Rock and the Newport Historic Bay District, this drive won’t disappoint. I’d recommend finding a crab shack somewhere along the way to feast more than just your eyes. Yum!

One of my favorite places to camp on the Coast is Honeyman State Park just South of Florence, OR.

Day 5: Southern Oregon

Get some coffee. You might need it by now.

From Florence, I’d head South down the Coast toward Reedsport and then start heading SE toward Roseburg. This little town (Roseburg) is adorable. It’s a great place to check out and a good place to stop for lunch before you continue heading East toward Crater Lake National Park. You’ll drive through Umpqua National Park to get there, which is phenomenal in itself, but also has one of the most beautiful hot springs in the entire state (in my opinion), the Umpqua Hot Springs. From here, you can head south toward Crater Lake, passing Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Lake.

You should definitely stop at the hot springs. And then decide to stay at Diamond Lake campground or drive the extra 12 miles to Crater Lake National Park.

…Honestly, I’d probably check out Diamond Lake first. And, if you’re feeling salty, the hike to the top of Thielsen isn’t bad. It’s long but even if you don’t make it to the top, the views are unbeatable and the air is crisp enough to get you recharged from all the driving.

Day 6: Crater Lake National Park

Okay. This place. Woofta. It’s hard for me to explain in words just how amazing this place is. I actually started crying the first time I saw it. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I just don’t know. It was beautiful. It was insanely blue. It was huge. And now I tell everyone I can to go visit it and explore the trails and fire lookouts and cliff jumping and camping this place has to offer because I think it seriously changed me. I think I’m going back this weekend.

Day 7:  Maybe stay in Crater Lake another night?

Day 8: Drive North toward Bend. 

Alright, next up, Beertopia, USA. aka Bend, Oregon. Just under a 2 hour drive from Crater Lake National Park and along a windy, emerald green tunnel through Umpqua National Forest, you’ll get to Bend and wonder why you’ve never been here before. You can also stop at the hot springs again if you want! Bend has everything from the Deschutes River running through the middle of town, to more micro breweries and beer than you’ll know what to do with. There’s also Mt. Bachelor, the Cascade Lakes and Smith Rock. If you’re into rock climbing or want an awesome day hike, head to Smith Rock State Park and head up the Misery Ridge trail. It’s about 4 miles round trip but gives you unbeatable views of the area with a handful of (yep, you guessed it) more volcanoes on the horizon.

Not into climbing? Check out Tumalo Falls, the lava fields (and caves) and/or check out downtown Bend.

Day 9: Columbia River Gorge OR Mt. Hood 

This one’s up to you. I love them both and they’re both in the way of you getting back to Portland.

  • If you’re looking for waterfalls, paddle boarding, kite surfing or wineries… I’d head towards Hood River and then drive through the Gorge.
  • If you camp here, check out Eagle Creek Campground.
  • If you’re looking for killer mountain views, a walk through the hotel they filmed The Shining at or pristine alpine lakes, I’d head toward Mt. Hood National Forest.
  • If you camp here, check out Frog Lake, Lost Lake or stay in Government camp and rent a cabin.

Day 10: WHOAH!

What a trip, huh? Sounds like you might be ready for a hot shower and your own bed.

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