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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
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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

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.

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