Maya Lin’s elliptical Bird Blind installation, part of the Confluence Project, commemorates the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark with a catalog of local bird species etched into the wood. (Photo credit: credit Bob Meador / The Confluence Project)

Known as the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge, the town of Troutdale perches at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia rivers just outside of Portland. It marks the start of 80 miles of dramatic beauty — the river winding from the east, sheer gorge cliffs and a string of rushing waterfalls. Before heading out to explore the Gorge, get a feel for friendly Troutdale.

Shop and stroll: Located on the Historic Columbia River Highway, downtown Troutdale retains the charm of days past. Browse antique stores, specialty stores and art galleries, including the Troutdale General Store (and don’t miss the First Friday Art Walk). Two of the town’s three museums — Harlow House and Rail Depot — give a look into the city’s agricultural and railroad history. Meanwhile the Barn Museum is currently showcasing a special King of Roads exhibit in honor of the Historic Columbia River Highway’s 100th anniversary.

Park and play: The Sandy River Delta is a broad, wooded recreation area near the joining of the Sandy and Columbia rivers just north of I-84. A popular hike for folks with dogs, the delta is also the site of artist Maya Lin’s elliptical Bird Blind installation, part of the Confluence Project, which commemorates the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark with a catalog of local bird species etched into the wood. Also named for the explorers, nearby Lewis and Clark State Park is perfect for a picnic, a dip in the river, a short hike or the boat launch.

Eat and drink: Happily stuck in the past, Tad’s Chicken ’n Dumplins first opened as a roadhouse in the 1920s. The wood-paneled dining room set on the Sandy River in view of the Troutdale Bridge is a great place to tuck in over a plate of signature chicken and dumplings, fresh salmon or Oregon beef. Nearby, McMenamin’s Historic Edgefield campus offers several different restaurants, bars, a winery and a distillery to choose from.

Sleep and Spa: With all those choices, McMenamins Edgefield is a good place to stop for the night. Stroll the grounds of the restored 1911 county poor farm and enjoy the gardens, a round of golf, a movie or live music. Relax at Ruby’s Spa in the outdoor soaking pool or indulge in a massage or spa treatment.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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  1. Barbara Korsmo says…

    You missed the best part of Troutdale – Rip Caswell and his sculptures all over town and his gallery with many beautiful pieces. Rip’s vision is to make Troutdale and artist’s colony! The Nimetz Statue on it’s way to Hawaii for a national monument-unveiled last Friday- is a wonderful example of his work!

    Written on August 7th, 2013 / Flag this Comment
  2. Gorge grown says…

    Don’t forget to stop by Brewligans tap room for the best northwest craft beers.

    Written on August 8th, 2013 / Flag this Comment
  3. Cheryl Christensen says…

    My Vanderhoof family came here in a covered wagon, around 1867, lived in Troutdale, a home by the water. My grandmother was born in Troutdale, in 1906.

    Written on September 22nd, 2016 / Flag this Comment
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