Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hiking Portland, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge... the reward at the end of a hike is always BEER!

Always seeing the glass half full, or considering gray a beautiful color for Portland's backdrop, I loved how these photos turned out!  Green always looks better in gray and there was plenty of both today at the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge!

I love lots of things about Portland but I really love that I can literally be in the city, downtown Portland and just a few minutes later, I can be hiking on a trail in what feels like the middle of nowhere.  Forest Park has been my favorite hiking spot for a while however I am always looking for more places to explore.  Mt. Tabor ranks up there too on my favorites list and today, I found that I really enjoyed hiking the Oaks Bottom Trail for the very first time.

Very easy to follow and maintained impeccably, this trail is easy to navigate.  It is perfect for families with small kids, great for an easy stroll or a fast hike or run if you wanna make it a work out.  There are some hills and I am an avid hiker and handled this trail easily but I suspect most anyone could.

Since this area is a refuge, expect to see lots of wildlife.  Today we saw ducks, squirrels, many different species of birds and even saw a Blue Heron.  I only know this because a small group of people were admiring the refuge from a ledge that partially hangs out over the water and eyed the Heron before I did. I have read that over 140 species of birds can be seen throughout the year at this refuge.  Deer, beavers and even bald eagles can be seen here as well. Spring is supposed to be one of the best times to visit the refuge because of the water level being higher and seeing the Canadian Geese heading north dipping down for their lunch along the way.

I would suggest wearing good sturdy sneakers or hiking boots when hiking this trail.  It wasn't muddy today but there were signs of a recent higher water level and areas that can certainly get pretty muddy.  One great thing about the location of this refuge and trail, is the proximity to the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland.  We decided to trek back to our car along the sidewalks and enjoyed the historic neighborhood and homes in the area.  We have enjoyed lunch in Sellwood before and at times we have stopped at Grand Central Bakery for a coffee and cookie.  The location is really perfect for hiking and city trekking and eating!  Three of my most favorite things to do!

Almost two hours after we began our hike, we drove over to Cascade Brewing Barrel House.  We saw this place on a city trek last week and beer was sounding pretty good today.  By the way... my hikes and city trek's almost always end with a beer stop somewhere as I consider it a good way to try a new brew and get rehydrated after a hike.  Ray had the Chocolate Bourbonic Plague and I had a few tastes and decided I loved the Raspberry Wheat.  Had a bite of lunch too which was very good.  I suggest the Cascade Brewing Barrel House for lunch and a beer any time but especially after a hike!

If you are considering a simple hike in the Portland area with a little education and wildlife watching along the way, I highly suggest this trail.  Take your time and enjoy it and when you are finished, enjoy  a nice cold Oregon beer too!

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