If you’ve ever driven to Mt. Hood from Portland, chances are you have sped down the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway through the town of Sandy and along the river of the same name (first called Quicksand River by the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery). During the 1840s, more than 50,000 hardy pioneers passed through here along the historic Barlow Road — the last leg of the Oregon Trail. Once a rustic trading post stopover, modern-day Sandy boasts a vibrant community well worth a visit.
History and Heritage: Bluff Road just northwest of downtown leads to Jonsrud Viewpoint for a look back into the past. The wayside park offers an unbroken view of Mt. Hood, as well as the “Devil’s Backbone,” a rugged ridgeline named by pioneers traveling the historic trail. The viewpoint looks down on a lovely bend in the Sandy River, which can be accessed at nearby Sandy River Park, 127 rustic acres. In downtown Sandy, stroll through Centennial Plaza, an attractive open public space and part of the original Barlow Road, which celebrates the town’s incorporation in 1911. Browse the adjacent Sandy Historical Society Museum to learn about the town’s founders and the logging industry, and view some of the 6,000 historic photos in the archives. Behind city hall, take a picnic to Meinig Memorial Park, a tucked-away green space with picnic tables, a gazebo, a playground and 5 acres of hiking trails. Take the self-guided Downtown Historical Walking Tour to visit points of interest dating as far back as the 1870s.
Eats and Treats: Don’t miss the AntFarm Café and Bakery with an attractive wood and steel interior and a fine menu. The bright café space houses the six other arms of this hardworking nonprofit — a community garden, a youth corps, an outdoor-adventure group, a tutoring center, an arts center and an elder-services center. All proceeds from the café’s delicious fresh-baked goods, savory sandwiches and sweet gelato support these projects. The midcentury chrome and red vinyl at Joe’s Donuts harks back to a time when a doughnut was a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Sink your teeth into a classic — old-fashioned, glazed, maple bar or bear claw. Thai Home offers classic Asian cuisine like garden rolls, orange chicken and crispy curry pork, and is open for lunch and dinner. At the north end of town, the warehouse exterior of Bunsenbrewer conceals a welcoming interior where you can sample from more than a dozen taps, including several brewed in-house by the resident biochem major turned hops man, as well as a music stage for open mic and a kids’ area for game night. (Bonus: Add ice cream to any beer for $2.)
Two-Wheeled Touring: The bike station behind City Hall makes a bold statement about the city of Sandy’s commitment to two-wheeled culture. A permanent bike pump and an extensive set of bike tools are located next to a beefy bike rack, picnic tables and a map detailing featured bike rides (this free map is available at many local bike-friendly businesses). Enjoy the 10-mile Easy, Breezy, Sandy Ride, which loops through Knollwood Park and north of town, or try Sleepy Hollow, a more challenging, 33-mile ride with excellent views of the Sandy River. Dirt lovers can head east on Highway 26 for 16 miles to the Sandy Ridge Trail System, a 17-mile singletrack heaven built by mountain bikers for mountain bikers on BLM land. The award-winning flow trails here will continue to grow with the recent acquisition of 200 more acres.