Portland Outdoorsy News: Larch Mountain Road open, Sandy River Delta closed.

Just a couple of news items from the Oregonian I thought I’d share.

One is that the road to Larch Mountain, one of the great  viewpoints in the Columbia River Gorge, is now open. The view of the Gorge and Mount Hood  from up there is pretty stupendous, and it’s  a great place to go see the city lights on a clear, moonless night. I think we get one or two of those each year.

Lewis and Clark Recreation Area in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The other piece of news is that the Sandy River Delta, aka Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, is closing June 11-15 so they can build a new trailhead. It’s a pretty cool place to go for a walk, and if you have a dog, I am  sure you already know this.

The Sandy River delta, by the way, will be featured in my new book this fall, Peaceful Places in Portland.

Peaceful Places Portland: Elk Rock Island

Here is something from my book, Peaceful Places: Portland — which you can get a signed copy of at the link.

Elk Rock Island



It can be easy, when living in Portland, to forget that the Willamette is a river.

I know that sounds odd, because what else would it be, but how often do you look at that body of water downtown and think about currents, and drainages, and riverbanks, and islands? It just seems kind of like some water to get across on the way to work, right?


Well, it’s a river, and if you want to get just a little glimpse of it in that form, head out to Elk Rock Island. First you have to find tiny Spring Park in Milwaukie. It’s a nice enough place, but follow the trail into the woods. Yes, you’re headed for the riverbank. And when you get there, if the water is low enough, you can walk right out there to the island-m-across a land bridge that  is thought to be 40 million years old.


See, we’re not just “in town” anymore, are we?

This little island had many owners before 1910 (one of them even built a dance hall on it) before its last private owner, a Scottish grain exporter named Peter Kerr donated it to the city with one stipulation: “Preserve it as a pretty place for all to enjoy.” Mission accomplished.

Here, within sight of homes and docks and industry, is a patch of woodlands, a small beach, a rocky bench, a cliff face, and a hidden laggon. Here are hiking trails and picnic spots, some peace and quiet, and — in winter, anyway — a waterfall across the way!


And here, rolling along as it always has, is a river, with a gentle current and birds bobbing and swooping, and, yes, an island in the middle of it.

Elk Rock Island: Essentials

Where: SE 19th Avenue & SE Sparrow Street,Milwaukie

When: Sunrise to sunset, but generally not accessible due to high water in winter and spring

Web: Official site

Read more about Peaceful Places in Portland. Or just buy the book.

I also write about hiking, travel and spirituality,

and I offer great talks and trips.

New Project: Peaceful Places in Portland

I have started on a new book called Peaceful Places in Portland, to be released in the fall of 2012 by Menasha Ridge Press. For an example of what it’s all about, check out their Peaceful Places in New York book.

And so now I have a blog, where I will share some of my discoveries as I work on the book — and also seek your suggestions. Check it out over at PeacefulPortland.com. There’s even a Facebook page for the book. And for my own little intro to what it’s all about, read the first blog post, called “What is ‘Peaceful Places in Portland?‘ “

Help Me Research “Peaceful Places”

I am working on a new project for Menasha Ridge Press, who published my 60 Hikes book. The book is called Peaceful Places – Portland. They’ve already got titles in the series on San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.

So here’s what I seek from readers: suggestions of peaceful places around Portland. The categories are Day/Overnight, Enchanting Walks, Historic Sites, Museums/Galleries, Outdoor Habitats, Parks and Gardens, Quiet Tables, Reading Rooms, Scenic Vistas, Shops and Services, Spiritual Enclaves, and Urban Surprises.

So email me some ideas, or post them as comments here, and if you tell me something I don’t know, and it makes the book, I’ll thank you in the Acknowledgements and enter your name in a drawing for a signed book.