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What are some good hikes and bird watching spots in Newport?

There are several options for hiking in the Newport area. For a great beach walk, you can walk from Beverly Beach State Park south to Otter Rock where a stairway leads you to the fascinating Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area.  There’s also the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, located in the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. This is a great seabird birdwatching area, has beautiful tidepools and some short hiking trails. For more serious hiking, consider Beaver Creek State Natural Area about seven miles south of Newport, another great birdwatching location. To experience coastal rainforest, you could also consider the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area about 45 minutes south of Newport. This is one of the most dramatic stretches of the coast with several options for hikes from the visitor center. A little further south is the Heceta Head Lighthouse with another beautiful short walk to the recently restored lighthouse.
Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on July 3rd, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where can I go rafting near Portland with a 6 year-old?

For rafting near Portland with a six year old I’d suggest the Deschutes River near Maupin. It’s a great introduction to rafting and flows all summer long!

We’re an active family of 4 looking for a week of Oregon adventures. What do you suggest?

Thanks for the question!  I will give you a basic breakdown of the state’s adventure offerings and once you decide where in Oregon you would like to visit I can narrow down the options and give you some more detail.  Also, the time of year changes what is available.

The Coast – The Oregon Coast is nicknamed the People’s Coast and it has something for everyone.  In the north coast you have Seaside, which is a fun town with lots of summer activities that appeal to kids of all ages (boardwalk, saltwater taffy, beachcombing, kites).  Heading south you will encounter numerous lighthouses (Yaquina, Heceta Head) and the fun town of Newport.  Between Newport and Florence is what I consider to be the BEST of the Oregon Coast scenery.  Cape Perpetua Scenic Area will beckon you to stop and explore.  I dare you to drive by it and not stop.  Florence has a fun downtown and offers access to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area where you can go on a dune buggy tour or try sandboarding.  Continuing south on the coast highway you’ll pass Reedsport which is home to the Umpqua Discovery Center.  Gold Beach is another adventure hub where you can go on a jet-boat ride, fish for salmon, or just enjoy the beach.

The I-5 Corridor – (North to South) Begin your trip with a stop in Portland.  Explore a very unique town full of delicious eateries, museums, natural wonders and more.  If you head east from Portland along Interstate 84 you can explore the Columbia River Gorge and hike around numerous waterfalls, including the tallest in the state, Multnomah Falls.  Further south on I-5 take a shopping adventure in Woodburn and enjoy shopping at the Woodburn Outlets (tax free). East of Woodburn is Silverton and Silver Falls State Park, a great place to go hiking and take photos.  Next stop is Eugene.  Try to visit on a Saturday so that you can check out the Saturday Market.  There are a lot of great hikes in the area, some with swimming holes too.  After you’ve explored Eugene, set the GPS for Winston and the Wildlife Safari.  Make sure you stop for cheese at the Rogue Creamery and cool off with a trip on a Hellgate Excursions Jet Boat in Grants Pass.

Central Oregon a.k.a “The Dry Side” – Some of my favorites east of the Cascades are Warm Springs and the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort & Spas, Smith Rock State Park in Redmond.  In Bend you can have river adventures (rafting, tubing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing) mountain biking adventures and culinary adventures.   A trip to Oregon isn’t complete without a stop at Crater Lake.  If it’s really a hot day you can cool off at the end of the Cleetwood Cove trail with a dip in the clear blue (very cold) water.

I recommend you check out the state’s Scenic Byways and once you decide where you want to go let me know so that I can offer you more suggestions.

Happy travels!

Where are good places to camp near mountain biking trails?

Oakridge (50 miles east of I-5 near Eugene) has hundreds of miles of trails.  You can camp at Salmon Creek Campground and ride from your campsite about 50 feet onto the Salmon Creek trail.  For some of the more challenging and thrilling trails in the area you’ll need a shuttle to various trailheads which are available from Oregon Adventures.

Bend/Sisters (Central Oregon, 2 hours from Oakridge) Has fun trails and ample camping.  Some popular places to camp are Tumalo State Park and my personal favorite, Smith Rock State Park (both have yurts you can reserve).  Your best bet for mountain biking is the Phil’s Trail Network that starts right in Bend.  You can also mountain bike at Smith Rock and in Sisters at Peterson Ridge and, farther west, on the McKenzie River Trail.

Hood River (Adjacent to the the Washington border, east of Portland) In the last few years Hood River has really emerged as a mountain biking destination, which pairs exceptionally well with this outdoorsy waterfront town.  You can camp at Lost Lake Resort and Campground and ride nearby Post Canyon Trail System.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Where is the best place to camp, hike and bike on the North Oregon Coast?

My top choice would be Cape Lookout State Park southwest of Tillamook for the best camping experience. The campground is right next to the beach and there are several miles of hiking trails including one to the end of the cape through old-growth Sitka Spruce rainforest. Bikes are not allowed on State Park trails, so you would have to look at other options for off-road biking. An alternative would be Nehalem Bay State State Park near Manzanita that borders both bay and ocean. There are campground biking trails that are more for family recreation, so if you are looking for more off-road biking, you could look at logging roads on Neahkahnie Mountain about 10 minutes to the north in Oswald West State Park. The hiking trails in Oswald West State Park are great, but again, are not open to bikes.

Happy exploring!

Answered by Gary Hayes, Ask Oregon Coast Expert on May 30th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What’s the best route to see the John Day Fossil Beds?

You can make a great loop between Portland and John Day. The most exciting route will be to take Highway 26 all the way. It will take you over Mt Hood into central Oregon and through The Painted Hills. Total driving time is about 5 hours.

For a return trip, I recommend heading north through The John Day Fossil Beds on OR 19 to Arlington. There you will join Interstate 84 and make the riveting drive along the Columbia River and through the Columbia River Gorge. Driving time is about the same.

I think this is the most scenic tour that will offer up several slices of Oregon for you, though there are other variations. You will find lots of small towns and amenities along the way, which you can check out via traveloregon.com. You can also request printed travel guides.

Enjoy your trip!

Which Oregon wineries have restaurants that are open daily?

King Estate and Left Coast Cellars are on the list. You should also check with Willamette Valley Vineyards as I believe they serve lunch regularly if not dinner as well.

In Dundee you’ll find both Red Hills Market (just upstairs is Domaine Trouvere) which is a definite favorite. Also in Dundee is the Dundee Bistro, which is connected to the Ponzi Wine Bar.

Also, there are many wineries that are more than happy to allow you to enjoy a picnic lunch (which you can get at Red Hills Market or other convenient places) with their sweeping views. Those that readily come to mind include Johan (in the same vicinity as Left Coast, actually!), Trisaetum Winery, Stoller Vineyards, Lenné Estate, WillaKenzie, A Blooming Hill, Apolloni Vineyards, and Sokol Blosser. Apparently I eat at more wineries than I realized!

I hope this helps with your planning.

Happy tasting!

Answered by Ryan Reichert, Ask Oregon Wine Expert on May 29th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

What do we need to know before cycling the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway?

Thanks for the question!  I biked the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway in 2011 (read my blog from the ride) and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. I rode in the opposite direction you’re planning, finishing the ride at Champoeg State Park.  Champoeg State Park offers RV spaces that you can reserve online.

One of the best resources for this route is rideoregonride.com.  You can see all the latest about the trip and also see where the closest bike shops, restaurants and lodging are located along the way.

As for transportation from Armitage Park near Eugene back to your RV at Champoeg, the options are limited and there isn’t one point to point option.  What I recommend is to take the Amtrak Cascades from Eugene to Salem.  For an additional fee you can bring your un-boxed bike on board   The only downside to taking the Amtrak Cascades is that you can only get as far north as Salem.  From Salem it’s around 30 miles to Champoeg State Park so you would have to either get a taxi or use pedal-power to get you there.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any other questions.

How do you catch razor clams?

ODFW has a lot of good info- http://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/shellfish/razorclams/index.asp

Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rA4D2ERtTdo

Sometimes you will see those “shows” on their own, especially right at low tide. I like to stomp my feet as I walk in about a ten foot circle and then walk back over my tracks and look for shows. As the stomping scares the clam it will retract and cause a show.

Here’s one of my blogs- http://www.ifish.net/board/blog.php?b=23&a=3956

Get to the beach one to two hours before low tide. Minus tides are what you will want.
http://www.saltwatertides.com/dynamic.dir/oregonsites.html The Columbia R entrance or Seaside are the ones to look up for the Clatsop beaches.

Answered by David Johnson, Ask Oregon Fishing Expert on May 26th, 2013 - Post Your Answer

Where are the best moderately difficult mountain biking trails in Oregon?

Thanks for the question! One person’s definition of “moderate” can vary greatly than the next person’s. I would say that a good number of the trails in Oregon are moderate. I would recommend rideoregonride.com as a resource and also look for local bike groups in the areas where you want to ride. A lot of bike shops have regular group rides. Below are some of my suggestions for moderate trails throughout the state. There are a ton more. So let me know if you want some more suggestions.

Brice Creek Trail (Cottage Grove) – This trail does have some steep cliffs and roots, but with decent bike-handling skills, shouldn’t be a problem. The trail is a lot of fun and goes past some beautiful waterfalls.
McKenzie River Trail (McKenzie Bridge) – Parts of this trail, near Clear Lake, are diffiicult. However, the portion below Trailbridge Reservoir to McKenzie Bridge is intermediate/moderate difficulty. The trail is mostly clear of rocks and roots and there aren’t any major climbs, there are a couple of narrow steep corners.
Waldo Lake Trail (Oakridge) – Outside of Oakridge, towards Willamette Pass, is one of the purest lakes in the state with a 18 mile loop around. The trail has a few obstacles, but for the most part is considered moderate because of the length of the trail. I recommend waiting until late summer, to get in shape for the ride and to wait out the swarms of mosquitos that tend to last until mid August.
Alpine Trail (Oakridge) – Whether you get a shuttle up to the trailhead, or pedal up road 1910, this trail is fun with moderate difficulty as far as obstacles go. Make sure your brakes work, because once you get on the trail it’s mostly downhill.
Timothy Lake Loop in the Mt. Hood National Forest is a fun 16-mile trail
Peterson Ridge (Sisters) This trail is on the easier side of “moderate” and offers great views of Cascades.

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