: Jim Shea / WCVA

Where to Hike and Grab a Bite in Tualatin Valley

From wetlands to forests, these three easy-to-get-to parks make it easy to get outside — then get a great lunch.
April 18, 2023

Oregon is famous for its year-round outdoor experiences, from summertime biking and winter snow sports to wildflower-spangled spring rambles. In Tualatin Valley, welcoming parks make it easy to get outside without straying too far from plenty of delicious dining options. Read on for inspiration planning your next great adventure.

Chehalem Ridge Nature Park (Photo courtesy of Metro)

Refuel With a Burger After a Hike

Chehalem Ridge Nature Park is a vast stretch of land 15 minutes south of Forest Grove in Tualatin Valley, a land that was once inhabited by the Atfalati-Kalapuya Tribe. Tucked between rolling hills of peaceful farms, the 1,250-acre property was formerly a commercial Douglas fir tree farm before it became a Metro-owned park in December 2021. Along the 10-mile network of paths for hiking, horseback riding and dirt biking, visitors will find expansive valley views and chances to spot birds like the male ruffed grouse, who returns to the area to breed in spring. 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, drive 10 minutes west of Chehalem Ridge to the town of Gaston, where the Screamin’ Chicken Diner welcomes patrons to feast on comforting diner fare like cheeseburgers, chocolate shakes and biscuits ’n gravy.

Killin Wetlands Nature Park (Photo courtesy of Metro)

Go Birding, Then Grab Brunch

Many cyclists and runners head to the  21-mile-long Banks-Vernonia State Trail less than an hour west of Portland, but you can find quiet and solitude at the Killin Wetlands Nature Park just down the road. Bring your binoculars to spot rare birds at this premier destination of the Willamette Valley Birding Trail, along with river otters, elk and the beavers that built the dams that formed these wetlands, which are the largest remaining peat-soil wetlands in the Banks area. Ash and black-cottonwood trees sprout their first leaves in the spring, when hooded mergansers and American bitterns flock to these waters.

After a long day of cycling, running or bird-watching in Banks, stop at Black-owned Eazy Peazy Eatz, a new cafe serving brunch and lunch near the Banks-Vernonia trail. Chef Na’eem Woods has spent decades in the Oregon food world, beginning with his childhood days working for his father’s restaurant in Corvallis. Expect familiar favorites like BLTs, stuffed omelets and hand-ground beef burgers, as well as specials like breakfast sandwiches made with waffles, rotating soup options and pastries sourced from Portland’s Marsee Baking.

Murray Hill Taphouse

Walk and Roll on Accessible Trails

The 230-acre Cooper Mountain Nature Park in South Beaverton offers picturesque views of the Chehalem Mountains and the Tualatin Valley. With 3 miles of trails, including a ¾-mile wheelchair- and stroller-friendly route, this accessible park makes it easy for the whole family to enjoy Cooper Mountain’s prairies, white oaklands and conifer forests. Set up a picnic and let the little ones climb the nature-themed playground, or check out the class offerings at the Cooper Mountain Nature House. The park becomes a wildflower paradise during the spring, including violet Oregon irises and pale larkspurs in the latter half of the season. Neotropical birds like western bluebirds can be found perched on tall grasses, and common yellowthroats sit on the elevated shrubs. 

If you didn’t pack the picnic blanket, consider stopping by the Murrayhill Taphouse afterward, a 10-minute drive east of the park. This homey, spacious restaurant is situated right next to Murrayhill Lake, including an outdoor patio (weather permitting). Alongside the reliable tap list of brews and wines is a stacked menu of elevated American classics. A variety of pizza boards come with toppings like barbecue chicken and roasted portobello mushrooms, and dinner entrees feature thoughtfully prepared items like grilled mahi mahi and herb-roasted chicken.

About The

Katrina Yentch
Katrina Yentch is a freelance journalist and copywriter living in Portland. When she isn't writing, she's either napping, cooking Thai food, or planning her next backpacking trip.

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