Best in the Northwest - Day-tripping

Your A to Z Guide for Day-tripping in the Northwest

You know those times when you can’t take an extra day from work or one of your weekend days is already booked? Or when you get a day off in the middle of the week and are just itching to get out and enjoy? When you these unexpected chances for a getaway arise, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s got to be an extended vacay to be worthwhile. Take a look at these great destinations. The Pacific Northwest is rich with ways to pack great adventures into a single day!

Eugene 

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Pack a picnic lunch and grab your running shoes and the leash. Visit Eugene’s Adida’s Amazon and Rexius Trails for a great day of cross training, running, walking or hiking. Rexius Trail loops along Amazon Creek, where your pooch can enjoy a quick dip or a drink. The Eugene area also boasts a wonderful 237-acre natural area at Alton Baker Park. Your dog will love running free in the designated off-leash space, and you may even want to take your bicycle along for a cruise along the river. Be sure to check out the Hays Memorial Tree Garden and Talking Stones for a bit of history and beauty.

For a little more action, Armitage Park is 56-plus glorious acres along the McKenzie River. Here you’ll find self-guided nature trails along with boat and river access, volleyball nets and horseshoe pits. Wrap your perfect day with a picnic — and don’t forget a doggie bag!

Visit the 9,000 acres at Fern Ridge Reservoir for a day of sailing, fishing or waterskiing. If you’re seeking a more sedate way to spend a few hours, there are trails for hiking or walking, a wetland habitat and picnic areas. If you’re lucky, you might spot birds of prey.

Do you enjoy the serenity and beauty of nature? Check out the riverside trails, wildflower meadows, and water garden at Mount Pisgah’s 209-acre “living tree museum.”

The Owen Rose Garden is a great stop to smell the roses with 400 varieties within their 4,500 roses. This riverfront beauty is a must see when in Eugene, especially in the blooming season.

Shotgun Creek is resplendent with treed forestlands and wildflowers. Here you’ll find nature in all its magnificence spanning 20 developed and 260 undeveloped acres. Hike, bike, play volleyball or toss horseshoes and then wind up your day with a picnic before heading back to reality. If you love a view and don’t mind climbing to get it, don’t miss Spencer’s Butte. You’ll climb just over 2,000 feet through timeless Douglas fir, but when you reach the summit, Champ-a te, the trees clear for spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades. Don’t forget your camera!

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Fall Creek Reservoir is infinitely popular, and offers something for everyone with its multiple day-use areas and camping facilities. Here you can bird-watch, boat or swim, attend fish interpretive events, watch for wildlife . . . enjoy.

The Rhododendron Garden at Hendricks Park in Eugene is another must-see, but you might want to check the weather ahead of time. The rhododendron gardens are a feature here, but no dogs are allowed inside the garden. You’ll want to be sure he or she can hang out happily (and safely) in the car during this portion of your excursion. You should be able to tire him or her out ahead of time by making the best of the 76 acres which include hiking and biking trails.

Corvallis

Willamette Dog Park is a great spot for a leisurely day exploring its 287 acres of trails and meadows. Bring along your bat and ball — you never know when you might find a pick-up game of America’s national pastime. This is Corvallis’s largest park and is well known for its Frisbee golf course. But wait, there’s more! You can also enjoy soccer, fishing, hiking or jogging. Maybe you’ll need to put this one on your list more than once.

Willamette National Forest 

Are you an adventurer? If you love to check out little known spots, you’ll find Deer Creek has its own hidden hot springs. Feel free to earn your soak by hiking the vicinity trails first.

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Salem

How about a new vintage for your cellar? The folks at Ankeny Vineyard Winery have been handcrafting wines since 1982. Your dog is welcome on the vineyard tour, although no taste-tests for canines. Nearby is the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge where you can bask in nature’s splendor. Who knows what wild critters you might see!

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Silverton

The Oregon Gardens is a unique place to enjoy 20 specialty gardens, including the Tropical Garden, Rose Garden, and Pet Friendly Garden. Not only is this a great place to get inspired or see new plants you may want to add to your own landscape, there are also group tours, a café, gift shop, and The Gordon House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Oregon Gardens plays host to many special events throughout the year. Check their online calendar so you can time your day trip just right.

Aurora 

Champoeg State Park has plenty to do and boasts the historical distinction of being the home of Oregon’s first provisional government (1843). Champoeg has lush forests, fields and wetlands, guided walks, disc golf, fishing, and plenty of options for hiking and biking.

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Vancouver 

Across the river in Washington State you’ll surely add Dakota Memorial Dog Park and Pacific Community Park to your list of favs. This park includes eight fenced acres, graveled trails, open lawns, forested spaces, and a rustic log agility course — and that’s just for your four-legged companion. Also on tap is hiking and biking trails, extreme sports park for skateboarding, biking and inline skating, courts for basketball and gardens that beckon you to meander.

Longview 

In Longview you can’t go wrong by picking up a few snacks for your pooch at the Farm Dog Bakery where healthy treats are made without preservatives, additives, or fillers, and contain pronounceable ingredients your dog will love. While you’re there, pick some up for my girl, Vegas, too!

Gerhart Gardens Park is a popular destination where you can launch your boat, shoot some hoops, fish, picnic, play volleyball, let your dog romp at the dog park, or toss a few horseshoes. Need a little java? No problem.

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Long Beach

Where can your dog dig with abandon and maybe bring up a treasure you’ll enjoy? Why, the beach of course! Enjoy clamming, crabbing, shopping, sight-seeing, bird-watching and more at Long Beach.

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The Gorge

Hit I-84 for a great day of hiking for the reward of breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge from Angels Rest. This is a moderate hike on well-maintained trail that is pure delight.

Vernonia

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are favorite activities along the several trailheads of the Banks-Vernonia Trail. If you enjoy escaping the rush of the city, this will surely hit the spot. Check out what was once an old rail line, as well as wild flowers, streams, and wildlife from the midst of the forest along well-maintained, paved trails.

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Gales Creek 

Looking for a touch of history in a primitive setting? Look no further than Gales Creek Trail. In this western location off Hwy 6, you can enjoy 11.4 miles of trails — including the Summit, Gales Creek, Reehers Camp, and Storey Burn Trailheads — where many acres of forestland burned in 1996. As you walk you’ll enjoy creeks and small waterfalls, log bridges, and an old railroad trestle.

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Hillsboro 

The Iron Mutt Coffee Company in Hillsboro caters to caffeine-lovers and canines. Sit and enjoy a cup while your dog romps in a specially-designed fenced area. Don’t forget to browse their selection of pet gifts and information on adopting a pet, too.

Maybe sipping wine that is local, handcrafted, and unique is more your speed. Oak Knoll Winery’s historic site west of Portland welcomes you and your pet with open paws! Stop on by and have a taste.

Portland

If you’re closer in and looking for a place that has it all, swing by Mary S Young Park in West Linn. Here you’ll find an off-leash area to stretch your legs, miles of forested trails, sports fields, and swimming access for the dogs.              

In downtown Portland nestled under the Burnside Bridge, visitors and locals alike can’t go wrong with the Portland Saturday Market. You can spend hours among the 250 small businesses, finding special treasures, pet goodies, live music, occasional performances, and wonderful, exotic foods. While you’re there, why not join a Portland Walking Tour? See the scenery and culture of downtown Portland via their cultural, sub-cultural (underground), supernatural, and culinary tours.

An eeeasy get-out is always as close as the mutt-inspired taste of the Northwest at all three Portland-area Lucky Labrador Brewpubs. Good food, handcrafted ales, and a casual atmosphere – you can’t go wrong!

Is it any wonder the Pacific Northwest is such a hot spot with newcomers and natives alike? There is so much to do and places to go that welcome the furkids along for the ride. Christine Gregoire, writing for Suite101.com, includes Portland in her list of best dog-friendly cities nationwide. TopTenz.net lists Portland as #7, and DogFriendly.com puts PDX at #5.

Consistently ranked as uber dog-friendly, we know we’ve got it all, and now you can daytrip to your heart’s delight with an exhaustive list of excellent spots from Long Beach to Eugene and from the Columbia River Gorge to Vernonia. So load up your paws and be on your way!

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Kennedy Morgan is a Portland-area dog mom, customer service manager for a small software company, and now freelance writer. Kennedy, her Dane, Vegas, and new addition, a Pomeranian, Leo, can be found playing with their many Dane friends (and their people) at weekly Portland Great Dane Community meetups. Contact her at kennedymmorgan@gmail.com. Photo is Vegas (Apache Vegas Rose)