Best place to cool off
Refreshing activities along the Sandy River at Oxbow Regional Park include swimming, rafting, kayaking or just dipping your feet in the glacier-fed water. Venturing inland, stroll through the densely wooded ancient forest, where you will find yourself shaded and cooled by 600-year-old trees. At the new nature play areas, enjoy the calm of the forest while the young ones splash around in the water tables at the sand and water play feature, or use their creative imaginations exploring the adventure camp and building shelters.
– Kendra Carrillo, lead park ranger
Best wildflower walk
Cooper Mountain Nature Park supports several native prairies and oak woodlands dating back to the early 1800s. These habitat patches support over 200 native plant species, many of which are endangered or threatened and can be seen at few other places in the region. Metro has been carefully cultivating the rarest of these plants and re-introducing them to the park, along with strategic burning, grazing, planting and seeding to help them thrive.
– Curt Zonick, senior natural resources scientist
Best public artwork
Orenco Woods Nature Park is my ideal weekend stroll because of trails that meander through varied landscapes, bridges with scenic views of wildlife and even interactive artwork. Along a line of old-growth Douglas fir trees, you can spot 18- foot stickwork sculptures staring straight back at you. These caricatures of surprised human faces were designed by Patrick Dougherty and made from interwoven willow and dogwood branches by Hillsboro community members in 2017. Knowing that the artwork will only be around another 2 years reminds me to value the site and all of nature’s beauty while I can.
– Alejandra Cortes, nature education specialist
Best fishing area
One of my favorite areas to fish in the metro region is along the Clackamas River. It’s an amazing, rugged landscape away from everything, and you really feel like you’re in nature. As much as I enjoy fishing, it’s mostly an excuse to swing a rod with a line in the water and hopefully not get it stuck in the trees.
– Jonathan Blasher, Parks and Nature director
It is the sense or sensation of confluence that make Gleason Boat Ramp and adjoining Broughton Beach among my favorite parks. A place of picture memories. A ball of fire setting in the sky as crowds grill, chill and gather at the river’s edge. A place where you can leave footprints in the sand while watching boats come and go at the ramp. Dogs play in the water as birdwatchers scan horizons for the next feathered find. A place of true intermingling.
– Jim Caudell, lead park ranger
Best picnic with a view
Scouters Mountain Nature Park is the best picnic area with a view because on a clear day, the view of Mount Hood is amazing, and there is a grassy area to lay out a blanket and soak up the sun. The past few years, there have been red-tailed hawks nesting nearby who often soar above and perch on the tall Douglas firs lining the picnic area.
– Alice Froehlich, nature education supervisor
Best place to find woodpeckers
The best place to find woodpeckers is in the mixed oak-conifer woodlands of Graham Oaks Nature Park. Listen for the drumming pattern as they peck on dead trees or watch for their unique flying pattern of three wing flaps followed with gliding. Woodpeckers will move on tree trunks in an upright position with their special (zygodactyl) feet and specialized stiffened tail feathers to use as a prop as they hammer on the tree. This redbreasted sapsucker is known for making a neat line of small holes in a dead tree. The woodpecker returns after the holes fill with sap and then eats the sap and any insects caught in it.
–Bonnie Shoffner, volunteer coordinator