Spring is traditionally a time when people clean out their clutter, but it can be even more regenerative to take a trip to bask in nature’s beauty. We’ve rounded up local tips, history and fun facts about four of our most appealing springtime trails for soul-pleasing experiences.
Fields of electric blue and purple are the stars of this 22.5-acre preserve. While its beauty shines year-round with more than 300 plant species, April and early May are when camas flowers explode with color.
Owned by The Nature Conservancy, the preserve offers flora and fauna tours weekends throughout the spring, all guided by volunteer naturalists. Guides are happy to tell you more about their focus on protecting Oregon white oaks and wildflowers. Note: Please keep pets at home to protect the sensitive wildlife.
The preserve is just a five-minute drive from Historic Willamette Main Street. Enjoy a fresh pressed juice or local gelato at Para Juice Bar and savor the Moroccan chicken salad from Lark Café. Later in the day, head over to the Ale and Cider House inhabiting the old Willamette General Store. In the back, Queen Orchard produces expertly crafted hard cider and fruit blended wine from local ingredients.
Wilsonville’s 250-acre Graham Oaks Nature Park was once inhabited by the Kalapuya Tribe. Acorns from the oak trees were a primary food source of theirs. Before the park’s 2010 opening, volunteers helped restore the area to the Kalapuya vision of a verdant oak savannah.
Wildflowers on view in the spring include meadow checkermallow, Pacific bleeding hearts and trillium. The park is also a wetland mecca for birds, such as the white-breasted nuthatch, red-necked grebe, Western bluebird and finches. Tip: Much of the park is wheelchair accessible, but some trails offer a higher level of challenge.
After you’ve worked through your wildflower and birding checklist, enjoy Kirin Ramen’s outdoor heated patio and a bowl of chicken mushroom ramen. And don’t forget dessert! The treats at Lux Sucre Desserts are as mouthwatering as its new retail space is bright and beautiful. Tip: Selfies at the pink phone booth are obligatory for Instagrammers looking for some great content
Visit the Molalla River Recreation Corridor for a lesser known system of forested trails. And for the complete outdoor experience, you can even camp there beginning mid-May! Three Bears Recreation Site is situated on a scenic stretch of the Molalla River and offers 15 campsites, each equipped with a tent pad, metal fire ring, BBQ grill and picnic table. It’s open for walk-in tent camping on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hardy Creek Trailhead is only 0.2 miles from the campsite and can connect you to many of the multiuse trails. Safety first: Please note there is no cell reception available. Portions of The Corridor may still be closed due to wildfire damage, so pay attention to corridor information and signage.
With the City of Molalla just a quick 15-minute drive away, it’s easy to load up on groceries or experience the local scene. Molalla River Brewing Company is an entertainment mecca, complete with a taproom, food carts, miniature golf and lawn games, covered patio with fire pits and more. The Humble Pig Café provides delicious house-made sweet treats, and Cowboy Coffee at Prairie House Inn is not to be missed, offering specialty coffees and a serene garden setting.
Enjoy thoughtfully laid-out trails along the Wild and Scenic Salmon River at Wildwood in Welches. Take the walking bridge over the Salmon River to the Wetlands Trail, an ADA- accessible, 0.75-mile wooden boardwalk, complete with two viewing platforms and plenty of Western skunk cabbage blooming in the spring. (With their distinctive smell and alien pod looks, they seem out of this world.)
The showstopper for kids is along the ADA-accessible, 0.75-mile paved Streamwatch Trail, and the trail’s name provides a hint. During spring months, you may see smaller fish, snails and crawdads when you peer into a large underwater fish viewing window. Parking at this Bureau of Land Management destination is only $5 and may be paid via credit card at the site’s kiosk.
To refuel afterwards, Skyway Bar and Grill and Koya Kitchen offer two of the most whimsical covered and open garden patios in the area. The mac and cheese at Skyway is a local favorite, and Koya’s sake selection will keep you warm on cooler spring days. For an equally beautiful interior, visit Chicali Cantina for made-to-order guacamole, a salsa flight and big portions. Tip: Check to see if the monkey light fixture above the bar is on. If so, they’re offering a drink special.
Canemah Bluff Nature Park is a scenic park that offers panoramic views over the Willamette River before winding through dense forest. It's a true refuge in every sense of the word, you're moments from Oregon's first city, Oregon City, yet it feels as if you're miles deep in secluded woods. The park is always beautiful, but spring brings explosions of color when camas, lilies, larkspur and other wildflowers bloom. Keep an eye out for a wide array of song birds and birds of prey as well, as many species call the park home.
Once you've had your fill, recharge at Corner 14, the first city's first food card pod. The selection here is incredible, with a veritable UN of international cuisines represented. Just across the street is Oregon City Brewing Company. OC Brewing opened in 2014 and quickly became an institution with their great craft beers and family-like atmosphere.