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Portland, Oregon - Part III - Escaping

Multnomah Falls

After a week in Portland's restaurants and gardens, we were ready for nature. One of Portland's closest and most popular natural attractions is Multnomah Falls, the second highest, year-round waterfall in the nation. Getting there by car is easy; the drive along the Columbia River Gorge alone is worth a trip. There's also a lodge where you can have lunch, and an information desk for trail maps.


Falls InfoMultnomah Falls SignAccording to a Forest Service brochure, Multnomah Falls "offers one of the best places in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to view the basalt rock formations exposed by Ice Age floods."  And the hike to the overlook is just over a mile.


 Multnomah Falls Hiking Trails Map

Native Americans legends about the falls tell of a princess who throws herself from the heights to save her people from a sickness. I'm a sucker for legends and felt ancient history shimmering through the forest mist.


 Hiking to the top of falls

We found the hiking path gentle and paved, if a bit crowded on the lower viewing bridge, but worth the sweat to reach the overlook and river.


 River pause

Don't go on a summer weekend or holiday though, unless you like crowds. The day after we visited, we saw a flashing highway sign that indicated the Falls parking lot was full at 11am. Instead, continue through the Columbia River Gorge and find a less popular hiking trail (see hiking map above) or drive into Hood River for lunch. The town has a swimming beach and loads of water sports. A dozen windsurfers launched while we gazed at the view.


 Swimming at Hood RiverWater Sports in Hood River

You can also visit wineries of the Columbia River Gorge (on both the Oregon and Washington sides). We stopped at Viento, just off I-84 at exit 62, and then drove down Country Club Road to Phelps Creek Vineyards where their winemaker from Burgundy, France brings traditional winemaking techniques to the Oregon vineyard.


 Mt. Hood Scenic Route Map

Our next adventure through the Mt. Hood Scenic Loop was to Timberline Lodge, famous for its exterior shots in the Stanley Kubrick horror film The Shining. Truth be told, that's why we went. But when we got out in the parking lot, I wiped Jack Nicholson's creepy smile from my mind and went for a hike.


 Timberline Lodge

The open trails to the ski area above were too inviting to pass up.


Mt HoodOther visitors jumped on the lift and caught a spectacular ride up to the ski bowl. And July skiers streamed up and down the mountain to catch the last of the snow.


Skiing in July


Nothing could beat the view from the foot trail.


Mt Hood Hiking

We finished our escapade with smoked hazelnuts, aged cheddar, and wine in the Ram's Head Bar on the second floor balcony of the lodge. Popular on a summer afternoon, the bar offers rustic lodge food and unbeatable mountain color.


Oregon's charm is in its scenic variety: mountains, vineyards, rainforests, volcanoes, and coastlines. Two weeks were not enough to see it all. I wished we'd had an expert to point out little-known spots, but we were never disappointed on our own.


A two-hour drive northeast from Portland brought us through the Tillamook State Forest to our quiet beach rental just past Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast.




We threw down our suitcases, took off our shoes, and


 Driftwood Art IIJetty & Sky

On the jettywalked the beach until sunset.


Nedonna Beach at Dusk


Then we soaked in a hot tub before dinner and watched the backyard wildlife.


Backyard Nature


We didn't need much excitement during our week at the beach. I took pictures of natural sand art and read novels most of the day.


Sand Art

Pebbles & Sand


But when we ran out of groceries and wine, we scouted the area for supplies. We drove up Highway 101 to Astoria, near the mouth of the Columbia River, and discovered a town caught in time.


Astoria Liberty Theatre


Vintage Astoria

Named for American investor John Jacob Astor, Astoria sits near the mouth of the Columbia River, across the bridge from Washington State.


We found that Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe has fabulous baked goods and coffee. And we filled up on organic produce at the Astoria Co-op Grocery.


Blue Scorcher Bakery


When the spirit moved us again out of our quiet corner, we ventured into Cannon Beach, highly touristed but not without natural charm, plenty of food and wine, and a skateboard park that entertained my crew.


Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach StreetsFairy Tale House



But our favorite coastal town was Manzanita because of its quiet beauty, friendly locals, great markets, and the nearby Nehalem Bay State Park.


Nehalem Bay State Park

Nehalem Bay

We trekked deep into nature on our bare feet, but next time we're out on the Oregon Coast (and we're sure to return), I'll hike the Neah-Kan-Nie Mountain trails through old growth forests and rent a kayak and a bike to explore further from the beaten path.


This is the third and last episode of my feature on Portland, Oregon. If you missed the earlier pieces click on Part I-Eating and Part II-Escaping for the whole story.



Images (36)
  • Multnomah Falls: Multnomah Cascading
  • Multnomah Falls Information Desk: Multnomah Falls Information Desk
  • Multnomah Falls Sign: Multnomah Falls Sign
  • Multnomah Falls Hiking Trails Map: Hikes the Falls Trails
  • Hiking to the top of falls: Easy Hike to the Falls
  • River pause: River Pause
  • Timberline Lodge: Haunted Lodge?
  • Timberline Lodge Interior: Timberline Lodge Interior
  • Mt. Hood Summit: Mt. Hood Summit
  • Skiing in July: Skiing in July
  • Mt. Hood Ski Lift: Mt. Hood Ski Lift
  • Mt. Hood Hiking: Mt. Hood Hiking
  • Mt. Hood Scenic Route Map: Mt. Hood Scenic Route Map
  • Swimming at Hood River: Swimming at Hood River
  • Water Sports at Hood River: Water Sports at Hood River
  • Oregon Coastline: Oregon Coastline
  • Access to the Beach: Access to the Beach
  • On the jetty: Blue Contemplation
  • Driftwood Art II: Driftwood Art II
  • Jetty & Sky: Jetty & Sky
  • Dusk on the Jetty: Dusk on the Jetty
  • Nedonna Beach at Dusk: Nedonna Beach at Dusk
  • Backyard Nature: Backyard Nature
  • Sand Art: Sand Art
  • Pebbles & Sand: Pebbles & Sand
  • Vintage Astoria: Vintage Astoria
  • Blue Scorcher Bakery: Blue Scorcher Bakery
  • Astoria Liberty Theatre: Astoria Liberty Theatre
  • Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach
  • Haystack: Haystack
  • Mussels & Barnacles: Mussels & Barnacles
  • Cannon Beach Streets: Cannon Beach Streets
  • Fairy Tale House: Fairy Tale House
  • Nehalem Bay State Park: Nehalem Bay State Park
  • Nehalem Bay: Nehalem Bay
  • Driftwood: Driftwood

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Comments (2)

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Thanks again for a wonderful view of the Portland area. If you had continued East along the Columbia River you would have reached the Maryhill Museum. This fascinating collection of art started as the dream of Samuel Hill who was president of the Seattle Gas and Electric Company around the start of the 20th century. He hoped to build a Quaker farming community, but irrigation proved too difficult. Istead he was convinced to turn his mansion into an art museum. 


His collection was eclectic. I will have to write a blog about my visit there a few years ago.

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