Designated as one of the country’s only urban national wildlife refuges in 1992, this Sherwood retreat didn’t open to the public until 2006. It was worth the wait: since intensive restoration began here some 20 years ago, the number of bird species flocking to its nearly 1,400 acres has quadrupled. Close to 200 species of migratory birds have now been cataloged as permanent or part-time residents, and spring marks the arrival of an array of songbirds. Along the park’s one-mile nature trail, dozens of feathered denizens, such as golden-crowned sparrows and yellow-rumped warblers, can be seen foraging among the wet prairie meadows, oak savannas, and a dense riparian forest brimming with red osier dogwoods, vine maples, and black cottonwoods. Keep your eyes trained on the ground, too: river otter tracks can often be spotted near seasonal creek beds and muddy stream banks. Opportunities for such sightings increase this month, when three miles of additional trails, closed each fall to protect wintering waterfowl, reopen for strolling.
DON’T FORGET: Avid photographers can reserve the refuge’s private bird blind. Go to fws.gov/tualatinriver for details.
POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE: Sanchez Taqueria. We suspect this taco joint’s loyal following has something to do with its corn tortillas. Hot and fluffy, these fresh-off-the-griddle gems are so big they could pass for flapjacks. Plenty of bottled Mexican cervezas—12 varieties in all—are on hand as well. 13050 SW Pacific Hwy, Tigard; 503-684-2838
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS: From I-5 South and OR 99/Pacific Highway, head west on OR 99 for 6.4 miles. The trailhead entrance is located on the right. No fees or permits required.