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Old 06-11-2011, 02:37 PM
6 posts, read 26,650 times
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Hi all,

I've lived in fairly rural areas for most of my life and moved to Portland over a year ago. I've been reliant on the bus, so I've been pretty much stuck in the city. A part of me really misses being more immersed in nature (although I know that Portland is considered a green/outdoorsy city).

Now that I have a car I would really like to check out some natural parks, swimming areas and hiking areas around Portland. Most preferably places that aren't too crowded, right off of a major road etc. But it doesn't have to be totally isolated either of course.

So far I've found this website, which describes some swimming areas: Oregon Swimming Holes

The only place I've done a little hiking thus far is part of Forest Park, in the lower Macleay trails. They are pretty busy though. I know there are plenty of other trails in Forest Park but I would like to know of other options.

Mostly I'm looking for things that one can drive to in less than an hour.

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Old 06-11-2011, 05:21 PM
Location: Portland, Oregon
9,811 posts, read 15,915,455 times
Reputation: 6220
DON'T EVEN THINK OF SWIMING IN THE RIVERS RIGHT NOW. The water is very very cold and the streams are running high and fast. There is also a lot of flotsam in the rivers.

There is a trail map for Forrest Park but it doesn't pop at the Park Bureau website for some reason. The Balch Creek trail isn't the only one but if you had continued from Upshur parking area all the way to Cornell Road you could then cross Cornell Road and continue on a trail up the hill (it is east of the Audubon Society facility, west of the tunnel), that will bring you along the hill all the way to Pittock Mansion. It is also possible to start at the end of Thurman Street and hike an unimproved fire lane all the way to St. John's Bridge vicinity and beyond along the ridge. You may be competing with mountain bikes on that route. The footpaths I bushwhacked 60 years ago would be grown over by now.
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Old 06-11-2011, 06:26 PM
Location: Portland, OR
181 posts, read 380,179 times
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This is the hike my boyfriend and I did on our first trip to Portland: Portland Area Hikes - Wahkeena Falls to Multnomah Falls | GORP.com

There are many descriptions of this trail online, but this was the most detailed one I found. The hike was incredible - verging on a spiritual experience. At some point along the trail, I found myself thinking "I can die happy now, because I've just seen the most beautiful place in the world." (Mind you, this was my very first trip to the Pacific NW in general, so I had never seen any kind of forest like that!) It's an easy drive from Portland and especially enjoyable if you take the historic scenic highway instead of I-84. I can't wait to go out there again!

You might also want to check out the book "100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington." I don't own it myself, but it has very positive reviews on Amazon. It's on my wishlist. :-)
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:14 PM
Location: Houston
1,257 posts, read 2,144,500 times
Reputation: 1213

Try Benson lake out in the gorge. The water is cold... very cold usually late July it will warm up to tolerable levels. My earliest swim there was on a friends birthday June 12th. Brutal cold but we managed.
Note: I believe the lake is fed by the water from Multnomah falls.

"High rocks" in Gladstone on the Clackamas river. ( I was young and dumb once) Its cold, dangerous and crowded when its hot outside. Not really an option until late July unless you are a polar bear. Do not drink and dive into the river there.

Lake Merwin up in Washington I remember was clean and good swimming.

I have swam in Bull run reservoir ( I am that old) Enjoy your next glass of water!

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Old 06-11-2011, 09:13 PM
Location: Portland, Oregon
9,811 posts, read 15,915,455 times
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Eh, I too swam at High Rocks in my teens. It is only by the grace of God that I survived to my 70th birthday.

Once the Columbia has receded: Rooster Rock State Park (on the Columbia) is lots of fun if you don't attempt to swim far. [Others can give you color.] Likewise Reeder's Beach (private) on Sauvie Island.

Please remember that the water you see today was snow not lot long before. Just because it is shallow doesn't mean that it is safe to wade or swim in.
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Old 06-26-2011, 08:28 PM
6 posts, read 26,650 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks everyone! I will keep those places in mind, and stay away from cold water
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:41 PM
Location: Portland, Oregon
9,811 posts, read 15,915,455 times
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All the rivers are running very cold and very fast right now. DO NOT attempt to wade in our streams until this subsides.

There but for the grace of God (and the COE) we would be like those in ND and those further down stream on the Missouri and Mississippi.

I am old enough to remember the VanPort Flood. Take NOTHING for granted!!!

The dynamics of reservoirs is that silt that precipitates when the water velocity slows. In a nutshell that means that silt fills in behind reservoirs. This silt must be removed by dredging else the holding capacity of reservoirs diminishes. Also, a dam is not a 'forever' piece of construction. Eventually each must be replaced. Can you imagine the battle between those who want free flowing rivers vs those who want the flood control and electrical production of dams??? I don't think I will live long enough to see that fight but it will come.

One of the results of building dams and dikes is that people build behind them. COE builds for 100+ year conditions because 150+ is so expensive. People build homes and businesses behind the dikes because they view that all is safe. NOT TRUE!!! When I worked for a major company and visited an acquired facility I looked up to see tug boats at eye level. I came back and ran up as many red flags as I could. A year after I left they had a comparatively minor flood that impacted that operation. Need I say it was moved as soon as possible.
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