Take a Walk on the Wild Side
From wetlands dotted with birds to biking trails to paddling routes through forested areas, the Tualatin Valley has outdoor opportunities for all skills and abilities. Experience firsthand the fun of exploring in a kayak, swinging in trees and taking in tremendous views.
Start the day at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (19255 SW Pacific Hwy., Sherwood; 503-625-5944), home to nearly 200 species of birds, more than 50 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles and amphibians, and a variety of insects, fish and plants. Explore the Wildlife Center, the nature store and the one-mile trail that meanders through the refuge, providing great photography opportunities along the way. (1–1.5 hours)
After the refuge, head to Cook Park (17005 SW 92nd Ave., Tigard) for a fun and easy kayaking (or canoe) trip down the Tualatin River. The Tualatin Riverkeepers offers complete boat rentals and expert-led group paddle trips on the water for people of all ages and abilities. This slow-moving river allows for ample wildlife viewing opportunities along the way. (2–2.5 hours)
After a couple of hours on the water, enjoy a brown-bag lunch along the banks of the Tualatin River at Cook Park. Then travel to Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve (2600 SW Hillsboro Hwy., Hillsboro; 503-681-6206), a 725-acre wildlife preserve with 4.5 miles of trails, wildlife viewing blinds and picture-perfect views. Groups also enjoy the 12,000-square-foot education center, which has hands-on exhibits and an authentic bald eagle’s nest recovered from the wild. The attraction also houses a nature store and an expansive deck with views overlooking the preserve. Guided tours can be arranged as well. (1–1.5 hours)
Wind down the day out in nature with a pleasant walk through Cooper Mountain Nature Park (18892 SW Kemmer Rd., Beaverton; 503-629-6350). This 230-acre park offers spectacular views of the Tualatin River Valley and the Chehalem Mountains, as well as 3.5 miles of trails with varying levels of difficulty that traverse through three distinct habitats in the park.