Scary Good

A round up of outdoor Halloween happenings

October 22, 2010

I don’t particularly enjoy horror films. (I blame that clown doll in Poltergeist long ago.) But during Halloween, I’m willing to make some exceptions. Usually this means a yearly viewing of The Shining, or hoping that I run across that joyous Gary Busey-Cory Haim werewolf battling tag team in Silver Bullet. Inexplicably, the other night, I even sat through 15 painful minutes of Bats, in which Lou Diamond Phillips attempts to out act giant bloodsuckers with glowing red eyes. (I’ll let you guess who came out on top.)

My point is, I love Halloween. The air is crisp. There are pumpkins to be picked. Ski season is around the corner. My beard makes it easy to dress up as people like Willie Nelson. I’ve yet to OD on eggnog, and Christmas in general. And, being a dad, there’s plenty of goofy stuff I get to do with my kid. Assuming you’ve already checked hayrides off the list, here are a few kid-friendly suggestions for getting outside in celebration of All Hallows’ Eve. A word of warning: there are bats involved, but I promise, none have glowing red eyes.

Night Flight
On Saturday night, the Audubon Society channels some Edgar Allen Poe style chills by inviting some of Oregon’s most noted night owls—a Great Horned Owl and a Northern Spotted Owl—to rap at their chamber doors. OK, they’ll be hooting. Kids will likely have hoot, too, trick-or-treating on a guided nighttime nature walk. And yes, an ebony raven from the days of yore will also be in attendance. Make sure the kids go easy on the candy though, or you’ll be the one quoting, “nevermore.”

Nighttime Hoots and Howls
Portland Parks & Recreation has also scared up a few fun treats for the kids. Take your pick from four locations—Whitaker Ponds Natural Area; Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge; Hoyt Arboretum; Gabriel Park—for a full moon hike with a naturalist who will help the kids go in search of critters who, not unlike Billy Idol, only seem to cry more at the midnight hour.

Spooky Night Hike
For anyone planning ahead, be sure to carve out some time next Saturday night for Tryon Creek’s Halloween treat. Hold tight to the little ones hands as you tour the Trillium Trail after dark and stop at tented stations to learn about bats, ravens, and assorted buggy species.

Milo McIver Bat Trail
To heck with guided walks, you say. You want to head off into the woods on your own. Well, this short loop at Milo McIver State Park will surely drive you batty. Literally. The path wanders past eight bat houses that were constructed in a large open meadow in the park in 2002 to help provide habitat to the park’s four resident species of bats: Little Brown bats, Big Brown Bats, Silver Haired Bats, and Townsend’s Big-eared Bats. But nothing tops the stop outside of an old abandoned barn. The towering, boarded-up structure isn’t exactly empty, though. Inside rests one of the State’s few nursery colony of Townsend Big-eared bats.

Pioneer Woman’s Grave
This weekend’s predicted stormy weather only amps up the chill factor for this short one-mile trek to visit the gravesite of an unknown emigrant woman who died near Mount Hood on the treacherous Barlow Pass in the 1840s. A plaque marks the site, which now serves as a memorial to the many emigrants who lost their lives along the Oregon Trail. A few faint wagon ruts persist in the dirt. And no doubt, a few restless spirits still wander the hills.

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