If you’re looking for an escape from the city that you can bike to, Dodge Park is a great choice. You might remember when I shared my experience doing an overnighter there a few years ago. Unfortunately camping is no longer allowed (thanks to a budget decision by Commissioner Amanda Fritz last year), but at just 30 (mostly) flat miles away, it’s easy enough to bike to for a day trip.
My son and I returned to the park a few weekends ago and had a great time. Here’s how we got there:
Our route was mostly on the Springwater Corridor and the final 10 miles or so were on quiet rural roads. The only sketchy part of the trip was crossing Highway 26 at an unsignalized intersection. My advice: Be patient, wait for a break in the traffic and scoot across as fast as you can. (I personally prefer to use the center median space as a refuge and cross in two parts.) It took us just over 3 hours to get there.
Once you get to the park, there are lots of things to do. The upside of no camping is all the space available for hanging out and picnicking. We found a big spot in the back of the park amid the shade of tall trees to have lunch and throw the frisbee around. After that we did our favorite thing; climbing on rocks in the middle of the Bull Run River. Then we hung the hammock and read books for a while.
Even on a crowded weekend day it was easy to find spots to enjoy while maintaining a safe distance from others. Dodge Park sits at the confluence of two rivers (Sandy and Bull Run) and there are many river access points. On the Sandy River side there’s a long, sandy beach area and shallow water that’s perfect for dipping in.
If you’re a local history buff, you’ll be interested to know that the areas around Dodge Park were home to the Klickitat people for thousands of years before white people came along. It wasn’t until a weekend train and trolley service began in 1911 that the spot became popular with day-trippers from Portland. From then until 1930 you could hop aboard at Montavilla and hop off at the park! Check out the City of Portland website for more of the park’s history.
At the end of the day we had some family meet us at the park and take us home. It’s only about a 45-minute drive back to Portland — not as fun as a trolley ride would have been, but much faster!
Note: Because of the budget issues, the City has closed the bathrooms and turned off the water sources. So bring plenty to drink and if you need a restroom there’s a porta-potty on-site.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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