Oregonians love road trips — especially ones that don’t take up too much time.
Here are five easy, fresh outdoor adventure trips from Portland — all within a two-hour drive north, south, east or west — that are just too tempting to pass up.
Hike the Oregon Coast
Check off a chunk of your Oregon Coast hiker’s bucket list. Your best bet is on a weekday when there are less crowds — it goes without saying that the North Oregon Coast is very popular. Fifteen miles east of Seaside, off Highway 26, where a hike up Saddle Mountain — the highest point in northwest Oregon — will make you feel like your head’s in the clouds. The climb to the top is challenging but worth the unparalleled view of the ocean, from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Cascades. Tillamook’s Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint features short trails to a lighthouse and octopus tree, while the challenging Neahkahnie Mountain hike near Lincoln City boasts unparalleled coastal views.
Where to stay: Cannery Pier Hotel, Surfside Resort, Surftides
Go fishing in Maupin
World famous for its trout and steelhead, Maupin — known as the gateway to the Deschutes River — is all action. Take a guided fishing or fly fishing class from a friendly pro at an outfitter like Deschutes Angler or Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop, or rent your own gear. Don’t miss the Historical Maupin GeoTour — a good excuse to explore, in search of a dozen identified geocaches. And have a picnic at White River Falls State Park, where the 90-foot White River waterfall makes for a spectacular sight.
Where to stay: Imperial River Company, The Oasis
Tour the East Gorge Food Trail
Indulging in cherries at the peak of ripeness — that’s when you know summer has arrived. U-pick season is the perfect time to explore the East Gorge Food Trail, a self-guided journey through historic orchards, vineyards and restaurants. The sunny, warm areas of the eastern Columbia River Gorge are a haven for fruit tasting, with the myriad of orchards growing everything from cherries and peaches to pears, apricots, plums and other mouth-watering treats. Come fall, the region hosts harvest festivals at Renken Farms in The Dalles and Liepold Farms Harvest Festival in Boring.
Where to stay: Cousin’s Country Inn, Comfort Inn Columbia Gorge, The Dalles Inn
Run a trail in Eugene
Lace up your running shoes and train on the trail that honors Oregon track legend Steve Prefontaine. Pre’s Trail, the 4.07-mile running and walking trail in Eugene’s Alton Baker Park, was built after the Olympian’s untimely death in 1975. Pre was inspired by the trails in Scandinavia and wanted to give all runners a place to safely train and improve their health. For a more punishing workout, head up to the 12-mile Ridgeline Trail, where Spencer Butte is the highest point in the city at 2,065 feet. Pick one of seven glorious trailheads to explore as you breathe in the meadow air and vista views.
Where to stay: Excelsior Inn, Inn at the 5th, Valley River Inn
Go biking in Vernonia
Pack up the family bikes for a quick drive out west from the city to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, where 21 miles of paved tree-lined trails await. Starting at any of the eight trailheads, pedal through the countryside over easy grades, with one switchback area that younger riders can walk and more experienced riders will find to be a fun challenge. Pack a picnic and stop at any of the 13 old bridges and wooden trestles along the way. A few miles away at L.L. Stub Stewart Park, find another six miles of cross-country and free-ride mountain bike trails as well as an 18-hole disc golf course and welcome center with visitor info.
Where to stay: Coastal Mountain Sport Haus, Vernonia Springs