Seize the Summer with 9 Ways to Explore the Northwest on Bike, Boat, and ... Skis?

From the Hood River Fruit Loop and waterfall trails to challenging coastal hikes and bucolic cycling paths, we help you experience the marvels of our state.

Edited by Rachel Ritchie July 13, 2015 Published in the Health Annual: Summer 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Cannon Beach

Image: Shutterstock

Turf & Surf: Saddle Mountain & Cannon Beach

Why choose between mountains and ocean? Saddle Mountain offers a 360-degree panorama of both the Cascades and the Pacific at its rewarding summit, atop 5.2 miles of forested switchbacks and steep meadows of summer wildflowers. Appetite well earned, tuck in at the Irish Table in Cannon Beach, where flickering candles and ramshackle wooden décor transport you to a stormy sea shanty. Don’t miss the generous piles of fresh crab heaped on toast, or the seared flatiron steaming in a Jameson peppercorn sauce. End your day with Oregon’s best digestif of all: sunset on the wave-streaked beach. Distance: 90 minutes from PDX

Hiking: Summit Silver Star Mountain

A clear day on Silver Star Mountain’s peak offers perhaps the most spectacular view within a day’s trip from Portland: St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, and the Gorge seem to radiate from your very own vertex. There are three main approaches: Grouse Vista Trail from the south (easiest drive, steepest hike), Silver Star Trail #180 from the north (easiest hike), and Bluff Mountain Trail from the east (longest drive, most stunning views). Bluff Mountain traverses mostly bare ridges of bear grass and wildflowers (trees never recovered from the Yacolt Burn of 1902), providing rare unencumbered views. Leave dinner and beers in a cooler at the trailhead for a sunset picnic overlooking Adams and Hood. Distance: 90 minutes from PDX 

Skiing: Summer Skiing on Mount Hood

For solid summer snow, wake up with the sun and point your wheels toward Timberline’s Palmer Snowfield. On the way, grab yourself a maple bacon bar from Joe’s Donuts in Sandy. Start by playing in the soft snow below Magic Mile. Around noon, catch the Palmer chair as the ski racers pack up from their morning runs. Up top, savor the views of Mount Jefferson, the Three Sisters, and the Salmon River before carving through acres of open snow on the west side of the glacier. For a new après-ski tradition, dip your burning quads in Trillium Lake while gazing up at your tracks, and reward yourself with a feast of mac and cheese at Skyway Grill on the way home. Distance: 90 minutes from PDX

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Berry Picking: Quintessential Sauvie Island

Begin your day picking a bagful of ripe snacking berries at Bella Organic farm, then make your way to Cistus Nursery, where you can wander stunning display gardens and scoop up some hardy tropical plants. From there, head out to Walton Beach, where you can soak up plenty of rays and frolic in the Columbia River. Return via Sauvie Island Road for a languorous pit stop at Kruger’s Farm, where Thursdays bring live music, and weekends mean Captured by Porches microbrews and kielbasa sizzling on the grill. Distance: 30 minuteS FROM PDX

Boating: Crabbing in Newport

Nothing beats the satisfaction of hauling fresh Dungeness crabs out of Newport’s Yaquina Bay, soaked in salt and sunshine, before devouring them back on the docks. Book your charter with Newport Tradewinds and head into the ocean spray for a three-hour loop around the scenic bay ($46). After your maritime excursion, make your way to Nye Beach and walk north on the sand about two miles to Yaquina Head, gawking at the cliffs above and tide pools below. Fuel up for your drive home with a cozy meal at Arr Place, where the motto is “actual food touched by human hands.” Distance: 2.5 hours from PDX

Cycling: Bike Banks-Vernonia

Stretching 21 miles through pristine forest along a once-thriving lumber railway line, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail offers a portal to a bygone era. Sections of towering woodland canopy are interrupted only by 12 bridges, ferrying you across unspoiled streams and emerald green glades on a paved pathway. Six trailheads allow you to tailor the ride as you please. For an abbreviated jaunt, park at Buxton Trailhead and ride five miles north, turning around at Topill Trailhead—the mild ascent becomes an exhilarating race through the trees as you freewheel back toward your car. Excessive grinning may result—along with the occasional bug in your teeth. Distance: 45 minutes from PDX

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Image: Chris Teso

Frolicking: The Hood River Fruit Loop

Prepare for the day’s indulgent ramble with nine holes of par-3 golf, Bloody Mary in hand, at McMenamins Edgefield. With some birdies under your belt, nibble your way through 35 miles worth of Mount Hood area farms, plus Instagram-worthy mountain vistas and sprawling wildflower meadows. Take a pulled-pork break at Parkdale’s Apple Valley BBQ before looping back along Highway 35 to meet cute with grazing alpacas at Foothills Yarn & Fiber/Cascade Alpacas, followed by crisp ciders with a view on the porch at Fox-Tail Cider’s tasting room. Toast your bucolic odyssey with a glass of easy-drinking Ruins Red at urban winery Springhouse Cellar (and fill up a growler to go). Stick around to hear local bands in the adjacent Ruins, the towering remains of an old distillery turned rubble-chic venue. Distance: 90 minutes from PDX

Flowers: Blooms & Falls

Silverton’s picturesque downtown and surrounding hills are just a bonus to the area’s real draw: more than 9,000 acres of lush gardens and towering waterfalls. An early-morning hike on Silver Falls State Park’s Trail of Ten Falls weaves you through (you guessed it!) 10 gushing, mossy cascades. After cruising under as many waterfalls as you please, head downtown for lunch and window-shopping, then continue to the Oregon Garden, an 80-acre botanical haven claiming 20 specialty gardens and the only Frank Lloyd Wright–designed home in Oregon. Distance: 1 hour from PDX

Views: The Covered Bridge Tour

One of the state’s many quirky claims to fame is Cottage Grove, our “Covered Bridge Capital.” Six preserved bridges, the oldest built in 1925, dot the bucolic burg and can be toured in just a couple of hours. Pack a hearty picnic and complete the circuit, then stop by Agrarian Ales’ historic dairy barn on the way home to tour the hop farm, scarf down wood-fired pizza, tap your foot to live bluegrass, and sip one of the 11 beers on tap. Distance: 2 hours from PDX

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