Why It’s Great Located just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, Oxbow Regional Park remains a surprisingly untamed destination. Red foxes, blacktail deer, bald eagles, blue herons—even black bears and cougars—roam among the Metro-run, 1,200-acre expanse. But it’s the water here that remains truly wild. More than 3 miles of the glacial-fed Sandy River flow through Oxbow. This month, the Sandy’s wide currents teem with a crimson caravan of spawning chinook salmon that can easily be watched from the park’s network of riverside trails. And paddlers, take note: the newly mapped Sandy River Water Trail (sandywatertrail.org) means it’s now even easier for human voyagers to flock to the river. Completed this August, the state-designated recreational water route clearly marks put-in and take-out points along the lower 38 miles of the river.
Post-Hike Watering Hole Tad’s Chicken ’n Dumplins It’s worth nursing one of the six brews on tap in this woodsy 1920s-era roadhouse till dinnertime. That’s when you can order up the legendarily tender namesake chicken and dumplings as big as your head. _1325 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale; 503-666-5337; tadschicdump.com
Trailhead Directions From Portland, take the Troutdale exit off of I-84 and turn right onto 257th Drive. Go 3 miles to NE Division Street and turn left. Travel east for 5 miles, following the signs for Oxbow Park. Turn left on SE Oxbow Parkway, and continue 1.6 miles to the park entrance. Day-use pass required; $5, available at the gate.