Handpicked produce, carefully crafted wines and bucolic beauty will tempt you at every turn on this 57-mile/92-kilometer route through the Tualatin Valley — the heart of Washington County, an easy side trip from the Portland metro area.
Sherwood to Laurelwood
Urban sights quickly give way to rural delights as you wind north and west from Sherwood. The tour route slips past the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, a restored floodplain that provides a haven for nearly 200 bird species and other animals. Trails, overlooks and a wildlife center welcome visitors.
Wetlands soon turn into tidy farm fields, orchards and acre after acre of hazelnut groves; this region grows nearly 90 percent of the nation’s hazelnuts. Plentiful roadside stands and U-pick farms make it easy to bring home a bit of the current harvest, from strawberries, blueberries and marionberries to peaches, plums, apples and more.
Gaston to Gales Creek
As the tour route swings north, the foothills of the Coast Range provide a scenic backdrop for undulating hillsides striped with vineyards — and the perfect climate for growing grapes. Here in the northern part of the Willamette Valley, cool-climate varietals like pinot noir and pinot gris are transformed into world-class wines. Area wine-tasting rooms, like those along the Sip 47 wine tour (between Gaston and Forest Grove), invite visitors to sample the latest local vintages. Visit the Washington County Visitors Association in Beaverton for information about more than 30 wineries in the area.
Banks to Helvetia
The tour route heads east from Gales Creek toward Banks, the southern terminus of the popular 21-mile/33.7- kilometer Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a former railroad bed.
The Tualatin Valley was one of the earliest regions settled by Oregon Trail pioneers. The small communities along the way still reflect the diversity of immigrants drawn to the region by land-grant programs — including Dutch in Verboort, Scottish in Roy and Swiss in Helvetia. Several historic sites along the route, like the 1878 Old Scotch Church (Tualatin Plains Presbyterian Church), offer insights into Oregon’s territory days.