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Portland Oregon & Hood River/Columbia Gorge - ideas

Portland Oregon & Hood River/Columbia Gorge - ideas

Old Sep 14th, 2013, 09:53 PM
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Portland Oregon & Hood River/Columbia Gorge - ideas

Hello All:

Been a lurker and reader on this site for a while. Great resource and thank you.

Planning a trip to Oregon for four-ish days in Mid October.

Plan is to fly in to Portland from CA late afternoon on a Thursday. Flying out of Portland that following Monday mid day.

Thinking of driving from airport to Hood River. Spending Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in Hood River with hiking and wineries during the day on Friday and Saturday. Sunday, return to Portland and maybe catch another hike along the way but planning to spend most of Sunday and Monday morning exploring Portland: urban hiking, checking out the Japanese and Chinese gardens, maybe a museum, hip neighborhoods, etc.

We are a family of three including a six year old son. We're avid hikers, and our son can do a nine mile or so hike with some carrying by us.

We like to avoid crowds.

We want to avoid spreading ourselves too thin. We were thinking about hitting the coast too, but we live near the coast in CA and it's not exotic for us. But maybe the mouth of the Columbia River is different?

Any recommendations on this itinerary, hike suggestions, lodging, food or winery recommendations (we prefer reds, pinot noir is great).

Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 06:23 AM
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First, have a rain plan. Mid-October can be iffy - might be nice, might not. One thing to bear in mind is that by heading east things get much drier, so that by the time you're in Maryhill or The Dalles (under an hour east of Hood River) you're in arid sagebrush country.

Don't forget that it's about an hour up to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood - a lovely drive and plenty of mountain hikes or sightseeing opportunities. There also ought to be some good autumn color in the Hood River Valley's orchards.

The mouth of the Columbia is indeed different, and again, if the weather is decent, or if you can tolerate some wetness, you might take a good long look at Cape Disappointment, on the Washington side of the river. http://www.nps.gov/lewi/planyourvisit/caped.htm

The WA state park at Cape Disappointment has numerous excellent hiking trails - through forest, along wild beaches... there are a couple of great lighthouses, some stunning surf-on-rocks scenery, and a lot of historical interest including the Lewis and Clark interpretive center.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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From your itinerary I see you have 3 full days and parts of 2 days for your trip. I would suggest that you not go to the coast or farther east than Hood River, otherwise you will indeed be spreading yourself too thin.

If it was me, I would start in Hood River and then drive back to Portland along the OR side of the Gorge. There are nice hikes and good restaurants all along the way back, and the drive will be beautiful.

There are some good wineries in Hood River, most of them out of town heading towards Mt Hood. There are a few tasting rooms in Hood River itself that may save you a drive so I suggest doing an internet search of wine tasting in town before you plan your winery visits.

The Columbia River Gorge Hotel has a famous brunch menu, you might like to check that out. Multnomah Falls Lodge on the old gorge highway is a very nice restaurant too. If you take the Oxbow Park exit just before you cross the Sandy River on I-84 and head about a mile and a half up the river, you will find Tad's Chicken and Dumplings (open at 5 pm)--a family favorite of ours since my grandparents were newlyweds. They have great food and a great view of the river.

Just past the Troutdale exit going westbound is Edgefield Winery, they make wine and brew beer and have a distillery too--great hotel to stay at and if you don't stay you can still do tastings and eat at one of 3 nice restaurants on site.

For hiking, what you need to remember is that most trails on the OR side of the Gorge are pretty steep--on average 1000 feet elevation gain per mile. So you might not want to do a long hike. The Eagle Creek Trail is one of the exceptions, but there are some pretty steep (and deep) dropoffs that you will want to consider because you have a child along. I would def not do that trail in the rain.

There are three hikes I would recommend, all of them along the old gorge hwy going westbound towards Portland. I solo hiked the entire Gorge trail system during one memorable summer and have taken kids on the trails I will now describe.

Between Oneota Gorge and Multnomah Falls is the trail to Triple Falls. It is on the left of the road and you can park at the trailhead if it is not too crowded. It is not too steep and Triple Falls is a really pretty waterfall, I think the total distance is between 5 and 6 miles.

A nice family trail is the hike up to the top of Multnomah Falls, then looping over to Wahkeena Falls and returning to the Multnomah Falls parking lot. That is under 5 miles in total. If you want to spend some extra time up on top, you can add an extra loop to Devil's Rest and return via Wahkeena Falls, although that would be at least a couple of extra miles.

Another nice hike that is not too terribly steep is Angel's Rest trail, the trailhead is at the old gorge hwy return to I-84 westbound at Bridal Veil. There is a big parking lot at the trailhead and the total distance is under 6 miles.

All of the trails I have mentioned are very well-signed, but you can also buy maps of Gorge hiking trails at any ranger station or outdoor store. Multnomah Falls gift shop has some maps too.

When you are in Portland I recommend making a day of the Japanese Garden/Rose Gardens and you can do some urban hiking in Forest Park, which is right next to them. The zoo and Hoyt Arboretum (nice trails through there!) and the World Forestry Center are just a few minutes away by car, more stuff than you can do in 1 day for sure. When you are tired of all that, you can drop down to Burnside Street and the trendy Northwest and Pearl District neighborhoods. The Chinese Garden is close to the river but if you get up around the Japanese Gardens you might just want to spend the whole day there. And Powell's Books is on Burnside and 11th.

Hope you enjoy your visit, Portland is a great town and the Columbia River Gorge is one of my favorite places in the whole world.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 09:09 AM
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You do not need a rental car in Portland. Return the car after Hood River at the airport (PDX). Just outside baggage claim is the end of the Trimet line. http://trimet.org/destinations/transittotrails.htm
In addition to the light rail line, Portland has a trolley line running on 10th and 11th streets and a widespread bus service. While on the way to Hood River from PDX, make a stop at Multnomah Falls (left exit on I-84 median). Scope it out and the next day plan on coming back by way of the old US 30 route which also has a good parking area. Hike up at least to the top of the falls for a great view of the Columbia Gorge.
DW and I are spending about 6 hours in downtown Portland on 10/4 coming from and returning to Eugene on Amtrak Cascades trains. One of our stops will be Powells' main bookstore on Burnside between 10th & 11th. FYI: the Portland Marathon will be run on Saturday 10/5.
Enjoy your short trip to Oregon. Please come back and see more of our great state when you can spend more time.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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We hiked Eagle Creek and loved it It is about 12 miles, but very easy, virtually no elevation gain/loss. Tons of great waterfalls. Might be a bit long for you, but one of our most memorable hikes. As indicated above, some steep drops several places along the way.

We took the ski lift up Mount Hood and then hiked back down-very nice with views. Also hiked around the Lake at the bottom.

You might consider Mount St. Helens.

I don't know if any of the Roses would still be in bloom, but the rose garden, right across from Japanese garden, was our favorite. We did enjoy the Japanese and Chinese Garden too.

Don't miss Powells Bookstore and Stumptown Roasters Coffee.

Fruit Loop was a nice interesting drive. I don't know if fall crops would still be available then or not.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 12:03 PM
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In mid-October yes, apples and pears will be available. And I would def keep a car for Portland since you have only one day to learn to navigate the bus system. It is easy to get around by car, it will save you time in the end. And traffic is not a huge problem.

It would be a day to go up to Mt Hood and a day for Mt St Helens. If you see Multnomah Falls via the I-84 exit there is only pedestrian access to the falls, you need to get on the old hwy if you want to find other hiking trails.

Must reiterate that I would strongly recommend against Eagle Creek trail with a 6 yo in tow. Just--not safe enough.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 12:15 PM
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Gah should have checked this earlier, there is a day fee for hiking Eagle Creek trail (Northwest Forest Pass). I just checked, the trails I mentioned in my first post are free--as would be the other trails. Eagle Creek gets a ton of use so that's my guess on why trail fees apply.

http://web.oregon.com/hiking/eaglecreek.cfm

More Gorge trails are described in this website too.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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Hi piles_of_paper,

I second lingering at the International Rose Test Garden, which is right near the Japanese Garden; the selection of extent of roses is truly unbelievable, not to mention free. I'd recommend in your exploring checking out the Alphabet District in addition to the Pearl District; the area around 22nd and Glisan streets had a great street vibe in my opinion. The Portland Art Museum had some well-done exhibits especially with artwork from the Pacific First Nations. Enjoy one of the city's renowned food carts while there.

Have a great trip! Daniel
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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Lots of good suggestions so far. The biggest problem you will have will be narowing down your choices. There is so much to do and see here, which is a good problem to have

The rose gardens would be one thing I would delete off the itinerary. I live here, and already our roses are almost done.

I agree with the advice to NOT do Eagle Creek with a younger child. I also agree with yodababe on the other hikes they mentioned. Our family loves to hike and our kids have been going with us since they were young. Triple Falls is a great one. Also in Forest Park is a nice trail from the zoo up to Pittock Mansion. If it is a clear day, there are fabulous views from there.

Hood River and the general gorge area has so much to see. Just make sure you take the old scenic hwy 30 and not just I-84 or you will miss most of it. There are a number of wineries in this area. That said, Oregon is Pinot Noir country and those grapes do not grow well over in the gorge. Pinot country is SW of Portland in the Newberg/McMinnville area. So if you are interested in Pinot Noir, head down here. Otherwise if you want the warmer weather varietals, the gorge is fine. Marchesi in Hood River is good, and on a nice day their patio area is pretty relaxing.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 02:36 PM
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No one touched on the museum aspect of your post.

For kids, the Columbia Gorge Discover Museum in The Dalles is a great place. A favorite: The interactive exhibit on all of Lewis and Clark's supply wagons and everything they had to bring.

The other great museum in the Gorge is the Maryhill Museum; however, for a 6-year-old, I would definitely choose the Gorge Discovery Center.

In Portland, for your son, the best museum is hands-down, OMSI. (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). Going on an actual Naval submarine is a great add-on (or you can actually just do the submarine if you wanted a short stop).

I actually think Cannon Beach is a must. Haystack Rock is just huge and right near the surf. It is well worth seeing. There is a hike that goes through Ecola State Park.

If you hit rain at the beach, on the north coast, Fort Clatsop is a favorite for kids. It is just outside Astoria and is a recreation of Lewis and Clark's fort.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 06:44 PM
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You will love Hood River. The visitors center is extremely helpful, so be sure and stop there.


I think your six year old would enjoy the Chinese Garden in Portland. You could combine it with a walk along the riverside and, if you are so inclined, a stop at Voodoo Donuts. We did not need a car in Portland.
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 06:51 PM
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Wow, this is very helpful. Thanks for all the advice and insights. I'll be running down these leads and refining things.

I may have some follow up questions...
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Old Sep 15th, 2013, 07:21 PM
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I did the Wahkeena-Multnomah Falls loop hike this past summer with my very athletic 15 year old, and I don't think I would recommend doing the entire loop with a 6 year old. It's a 5.4 mile hike with a 1600ft elevation change that is gorgeous, but probably too difficult for a 6 year old. And I can't imagine anyone carrying a six year old on that steep trail for any length of time. My 15 year old was complaining about the steepness after awhile.

We didn't do the hike all the way to Triple Falls, but we did do the Horsetail Falls to Ponytail Falls hike which was easy. You can walk behind Ponytail Falls so I think you all would enjoy that one. If we would have had more time we would have gone all the way to Triple Falls.

Another easy one was the Wahclella Falls hike. That is one you need the Northwest Forest Pass for though.

There are a couple of other ones that supposed to be very easy that we didn't get around to doing on this trip - Bridal Veil Falls and LaTourell Falls. You can see LaTourell Falls from the road however.

I'd highly recommend a stop in Cascade Locks at the Bradford Visitor Center of the Bonneville Dam, as well as visiting the Fish Hatchery in the same area. The exhibits at the visitor center are nice, and the fish ladder is interesting. And your son will enjoy feeding the fish at the fish hatchery, not to mention seeing the huge sturgeons. Have lunch at Charburger with a great view of the Columbia River and the Bridge of the Gods.

Enjoy your trip, I am looking forward to going again someday.
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Old Sep 16th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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travelerfromtx--One thing to consider is that you are from Texas and so may not be used to hiking with much elevation change. If people are used to that, 6 year olds can do quite a bit. We started our kids out when they were young, but since we live here the kids have been used to our terrain and so the elevation was never an issue. Kids do that hike all the time as it is an easy one. Glad you had a good time here!
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Old Sep 16th, 2013, 07:26 AM
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I'm pretty sure the only fee is for parking at Eagle Creek. I have a National Park Annual Pass and that covered the parking fee for any National Forest, so I didn't pay anything.
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Old Sep 16th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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LOL mms, there is definitely a difference between an Oregonian's definition of steep and a Texan's definition of steep! But you are the first person I've come across that has called the Wahkeena-Multnomah loop easy. nwhiker.com describes it as "challenging due to the steepness of the trail", portlandhikers.org calls it moderate, and Bills Sullivan calls it moderate in his 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon guidebook. Maybe it's easier if you start at the Multnomah trailhead as opposed to the Wahkeena trailhead, but I still think if my competitive gymnast daughter found it challenging, that it will tire a 6 year old past the point of enjoying anything else that day. Of course, teens complain about so many things don't they? But just call it input for the OP to consider when choosing their hikes.

Regarding the Northwest Forest Pass, nwhiker.com is an excellent site for letting you know if this permit is required at the trailhead. Eagle Creek, Wahclella, and Elowah Falls are ones that definitely require it, there might be others.
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Old Sep 16th, 2013, 11:32 AM
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travelerfromtx--I know the various groups list hikes as to easy/difficult, but they go overboard, IMO, to make sure people don't get in over their heads. I have done this hike, and with our kids, and yes, I think it is easy. Bill Sullivan has good info, but again is pretty conservative in the descriptions. NWHiker, well I bet not give my opinion about that site Just trying to give a local hiker's perspective since we are out hiking often in this area.
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