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Mount St. Helens Visitor Centers

Mount St. Helens Visitor Centers A Good Gray

On a clear, cloudless day, we can see Mount St. Helens from the Portland area. The 1980 eruption greatly diminished the peak, but it’s still a mighty member of the Cascade Range. And oh man, does it have stories to tell.

If you want to give your kids a healthy respect for Mother Nature, take them to one of three operating visitor centers for this volcanic neighbor:

  1. Johnston Ridge Observatory: This center is at the end of highway 504, with an incredible view of St. Helens. There are several interactive exhibits (many kid-friendly) and a large theater with shows impactful enough to leave my sensitive 4-year-old in horrified tears. True story. There are also outdoor trails and an amphitheater used for a cool Music on the Mountain series in the summer. (Open mid-May to October, admission is FREE for kids under 15, $8 for adults).
  2. Forest Learning Center: This location is within the 1980 blast zone, and is provided by Weyerhaeuser Company. It includes extensive information on the eruption and the recovery of the forests and animal life, and includes kids exhibits. There’s also a FREE eruption movie and an exterior playground. (Open end of May to October, FREE admission)
  3. Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake: Located at mile 5 on Highway 504, it’s the original Visitor Center built in 1993 and the gateway to the mountain. It’s farthest from St. Helens and a bit dated, but it’s closest to I-5 and includes a movie and a scenic walking trail along the lake. (Open year-round, admission is FREE for kids under 6, $2.50 for kids 7-17, $5 for adults, or $15 per family).

Sadly the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center, just 8 miles from the crater and a powerful memory for me as a kid, closed in 2007 due to budget restrictions. Boo!

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Tillamook Forest Center

What: Tillamook Forest Center
Where: 45500 Wilson River Hwy (Route 6), Tillamook

When: Spring, Summer, and Fall (closed December to February)
Why: It’s a beautiful, fun, and educational stop along Highway 6
Cost: FREE

Tillamook Forest Center A Good Gray

On our drives down Highway 6 towards Tillamook and the central coast beaches over the years, we’ve often passed the Tillamook Forest Center. I’d heard it was a fun stop for kids, but we’d never had a good opportunity to stop… until now.

The Tillamook Forest Center is tucked in the middle of the lush, green Tillamook State Forest. The highway cuts through the forest along the Wilson River, and the forest center is just off the road about 30 miles from Highway 26 and 22 miles from Tillamook.

The center is absolutely free, although donations are welcome. The center is new, well-crafted, and staffed with super helpful guides. Inside you’ll find great information on the history of the area, the great Tillamook Burn (I had no idea!), and the unique wildlife of the forest. There are many, many “please touch” activities for kids, tons of interesting visuals, and a gift shop. There’s also an award-winning film that plays regularly called “Legacy of Fire” (we didn’t have time for it, so the nerd in me deffffinitely wants to go back).

Outside you’ll find this impressive 40-foot replica of a lookout tower (our girls practically ran up all those stairs!) as well as an amazing suspension bridge out back crossing over the beautiful Wilson River.

Our stop was short, but I will gladly go back. This is the sort of place you could visit regularly and always find something new to explore, indoors or out. Plus, as you take in the beauty and rich history of this forest, you just might fall in love with Oregon a little bit more.

Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

What: Bridal Veil Falls
Where: Columbia River Gorge

When: Year round
Why: These beautiful falls are only a short hike away
Cost: FREE

A Good Gray Bridal Veil Falls

Last July we hiked with my husband’s entire family—2 grandparents, 6 parents, and 10 kids ages 1 to 12—headed to the Gorge. Before showing them Latourell Falls, we stopped to check out the nearby Bridal Veil Falls for the first time.

Bridal Veil Falls was perfect for our group—it’s absolutely gorgeous with fairly easy access. It’s just a few miles west of Multnomah Falls off of the Historic Columbia River Highway. There’s a free parking lot with public restrooms (also free) (just to be clear).

There are actually two trails for Bridal Veil. The upper trail is a half mile round trip, and takes you around the precipice of the cliffs of the Gorge. Apparently you get a great view of the Pillars of Hercules, which is a big basalt tower with a killer name.

The lower trail is only about a mile round trip (but very steep), and it brings you up close and personal to the falls. That’s the route we picked. It was shady with some great glimpses of the Columbia.

Once you reach the roaring, tiered falls, you can view them from above at a platform and then climb (carefully!) down to the rocks. We spent tons of time exploring, tossing stones, and enjoying the refreshing spray by the pool. The lush, moss-covered scene even in the middle of summer will warm your Oregon-loving heart.

Save some energy for the hike back up, because the incline was a bit much for little legs. But overall this is an easy hike with a breathtaking payoff.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

What: Cape Meares Lighthouse
Where: Tip of Cape Meares just south of Tillamook Bay

When: Year round, 7 am to dusk (tours April to October)
Why: You get a historical lighthouse, incredible views, and natural wonders all in one stop
Cost: FREE

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About 10 miles west of Tillamook way out on Cape Meares, you’ll find a bit of a treasure: a historical lighthouse surrounded by interesting wildlife, spectacular views, and fascinating trees. And it’s all accessible from the same parking lot.

The Cape Meares Lighthouse was built in 1889. As Oregon’s shortest lighthouse, it gives you a great view of its top with little effort. There is a shady, paved trail down to the lighthouse from the parking lot (save some energy for the walk back because it’s deceivingly steep). They have a teensy interpretive/gift shop and free tours from April to October (with limited days/times in the Spring and Fall). Small children aren’t allowed on the tour, but anyone can walk around the lighthouse exterior year-round.

Cape Meares is also a great place to bird-watch or whale watch during migration seasons. There are designated viewing points, but there are incredible views all around, in part thanks to the National Wildlife Refuge that cover the cape.

A short hike from the parking lot you’ll also find two interesting Sitka Spruces. There are two you won’t want to miss: one is the Octupus Tree, which has what looks like tentacles reaching up. It’s an Oregon Heritage Tree, which basically means it’s super old. And cool. It’s considered a sacred tree to local tribes, and is probably 250 years old. (It was already an adult by the time Lewis & Clark made it to the coast!)

The second Sitka is even larger and older: Old Spruce is 144 feet tall and 15.5 feet in diameter, and is an estimated 750 to 800 years old! It’s the oldest of its kind in the state. Old Spruce will require you to park in a different lot (near the entrance to the scenic viewpoint), but it’s still only takes a short hike to reach it.

When you visit, try to check the roads in advance. We had to turn home once during a rainy season due to sinkholes, and I know the roads have been closed for landslides before too.

You probably won’t spend hours and hours at Cape Meares, but it’s a breathtaking spot and well worth the scenic drive.

 

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‘Tis the Week Before Christmas: Portland’s West Side 2016

christmas-2016

‘Tis the week before Christmas,
And the kids are out of school
They’re overflowing with seasonal cheer
And you juuust might lose your cool

But thank your lucky stars!
Portland is full of holiday fun
Check out the list below

And start with your favorite one

Bundle up your sweet family
And go make some memories
Merry Christmas to all

And to all, the happiest holidees!


CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Christmas Ships (Portland, through Dec. 18, 7 to 8 pm): Since 1954 Portlanders have paraded down the Willamette and Columbia Rivers with their boats and ships blinged out for Christmas. Find a spot on the waterfront and enjoy the fun.
Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway (Portland, evenings Nov. 25 to Dec. 25, $20/car): Stay cozy in the car and drive through this spectacular light display.
ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo (Portland, Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, 5 to 9 pm): The zoo dazzles with a million and a half lights. Prices vary, members are free. It gets busy, so plan for a crowd.
The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights (Portland, through Dec. 30, 5 to 9:30 pm): Walk through the impressive light displays at the Grotto, a 62-acre Catholic Shrine and botanical garden. There are half a million lights, holiday concerts, and outdoor caroling. Adults $11, children (3-12) $6, children 2 and under FREE.
Christmas Fantasy Trail at Wenzel Farm (Oregon City, Dec. 2 to 30, 6-9 pm): Take a walk surrounded by thousands of Christmas lights, including a castle and tunnel. Adults $6, Children 12 and under $5.
Peacock Lane Christmas Lights (Portland, Dec. 15 to 31, 7 to 10 pm): These neighbors have a long gone all out providing beautiful Christmas displays. FREE. It gets busy, so it’s best to park far and walk more.
Lighting of Maddox Woods (West Linn, Nov. 19 to Dec. 31, 4-9 pm): Enjoy a magical walk down a lighted, accessible path through the woods to a viewing platform on the Willamette River.

INDOOR EVENTS
Pittock Mansion Christmas Exhibit (Portland, Nov. 21 to Dec. 31, 11 am to 4 pm): Their annual holiday exhibit doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy each room’s “Symbols of the Season” while local musicians play. Adults $11, Youth (ages 6-18) $8, Children under 6 FREE.
24 Days of Music at the Portland Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Lake Oswego, Dec. 1 to 24, 7 pm): Come to the visitor center for nightly choirs and performances. Admission is free, but seating is limited.
The Nutcracker Ballet (Keller Auditorium, Portland, Dec. 10 to 26, 2:00 pm/7:30 pm): Share the magic of the Nutcracker ballet with your child. Performed by the Oregon Ballet Theatre.
“A Christmas Carol” at Portland Playhouse (Portland, Nov. 30 to Dec. 30, 2:00 pm/7:00 pm): Introduce your children to this Christmas classic with a live performance.

OUTDOOR EVENTS
Christmas in Dairyville and Storybook Lane at Alpenrose Dairy  (Portland, through Dec. 18, times vary): This charming little Portland-area tradition includes carols, cool decor, and Santa.  Admission is free.
The Holiday Express by the OR Rail Heritage Foundation (From Oaks Park Station, various dates and times until Dec. 18): Join Santa and his elves on this vintage train as you wind through both the wilderness and the city. Tickets sell out fast, but you might get lucky!
The Polar Express by the Mt. Hood Railroad (Hood River, various dates and times until Dec. 28): Join Santa on this magical train ride based on the popular book and movie “The Polar Express.” You’ll get treated to hot cocoa, music, and a special gift. Buy tickets in advance!
Winter Village at Orenco Station (Hillsboro, Dec. 2 to Jan. 2, 10 am to 10 pm): This holiday tradition in its 2nd year and brings the only open-air ice skating rink to the area. Adults $12, Kids 4-9 $9, Kids 3 and under FREE, plus skate rental.

SINGLE DAY EVENTS
Song Circle Holiday Edition at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 19, 6:30 pm)
Gingerbread Houses at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 19, 4 pm): Registration required
Jingle Babies at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 20, 10:30 am): For children 0 to 6.
Life-Sized Candyland Game at Brookwood Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 20, 2:30 pm)
Family Holiday Movie at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 21, 2-4:00 pm)
Winter Crafts at Shute Park Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 21, 2-3:30 pm)
Holiday Storytime at Beaverton Library (Beaverton, Dec. 22, 1:00 pm): Ages 2-6
Holiday Movie Marathon at Shute Park Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 22, 2:30-5:30 pm)
Winter Wonderland at Brookwood Library (Hillsboro, Dec. 23, times vary): Christmas movies, Family Holiday Sing-Alongs, Storytimes

Anything I missed? What would you add?

Community Service Projects for Families

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How do you raise compassionate, selfless little people? Good question! I’m only 6 years into this child-rearing thing so I’m still figuring it out.

But here’s something: teach them to care for other people and to try to understand their struggles. Last September my girls and I watched a documentary called “Living on One Dollar,” and it led to a discussion about poverty and the challenges some people face. We all decided we’re pretty dang spoiled.

We felt inspired to do something to give to others, so we organized a small coat drive. I searched and found the Hillsboro Family Resource Center, a group helping families in our town. The girls decorated a large box, we put it on our porch for a few weeks, and I advertised our coat drive to our friends and neighbors by email and social media. BOOM! I kept the donating circle small, but we ended up with several bags of donations. It was a great experience for our little family.

So what else can our families do? Check out this list of community service projects for families to do together in the Portland area:

  1. Offer to help an older neighbor with yard or housework
  2. Coat or Clothing Drive: Contact a group like the Foster Closet or Lutheran Community Services NW to find out what they need. Leave a large box on your porch and advertise to your neighbors and friends with fliers or by social media (never post your address online). Set a deadline and drop off the donations together.
  3. Make dinner together for a friend or neighbor
  4. Make “Bags of Sunshine” for Cancer Patients: We passed these out in the waiting room at my Dad’s cancer center. The girls helped fill small Ziplocs with chapstick, candy, lotion, and a cheerful note. It was meaningful for all of us.
  5. Northwest Children’s Outreach: This group provides clothes, toiletries, and more for foster children. Families of all ages can come organize and sort during set hours at their locations in Beaverton, Tualatin, and more.
  6. Rake leaves or shovel snow for your neighbors
  7. Make cards or Valentine’s for a senior center or nursing home
  8. HillsDOer Day: Each October the city of Hillsboro organizes service projects all around, and many are great for families.
  9. Oregon Food Bank: Organize a food drive or even take your children (as young as 5!) to pack food at their Beaverton or Portland locations. Learn more here.
  10. Clean up Trash: Go for a walk or head to a park and clean up trash. Wear gloves, supervise, and give some safety tips.
  11. Give to the homeless: Wrap burritos in foil or stuff a rolled pair of socks with chapstick and granola bars and hand them out to people you pass on the streets. (Use appropriate caution.)
  12. Donate to a children’s hospital: Here are the sorts of things they need.
  13. Oregon Special Olympics: Take older kids to volunteer or young kids to cheer at their next event
  14. Write letters to members of the military through A Million Thanks
  15. Do a lemonade stand or bake sale and donate the profits
  16. Make Blankets for Project Linus: Even young children can help make easy, no-sew fleece blankets to donate

 

I’d love to learn of more! Comment and share other service opportunities, pretty please.

Audiobooks for Families Read by Jim Dale

Audiobooks Jim Dale A Good Gray

My husband and I first heard of Jim Dale when we moved from Utah to Virginia as newlyweds. We’d borrowed the first few Harry Potter books on CD, and we listened to these beloved stories hour after hour as we treked cross-country. We already knew we loved J.K. Rowling’s book series, but hearing Dale read them with so many different voices and styles was a whole new experience. By the time we reached that last time zone, we were total Jim Dale groupies.

In the years since, we’ve gotten to know the work of the award-winning Dale better and better. We mostly listen to audiobooks on long roadtrips, but really they’re great whether you’re just driving around town or spending the day at home. Dale’s audiobook collection is pretty vast, but here are some favorites that are appropriate for children and entertaining for the whole fam.

Note: Not all of the following are best for young children. Do your homework.

“Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
Introduce a new generation to the wonder of Harry Potter and his magical world as they fight the rise of evil. Dale manages a different voice and inflection for each character, and it is absolutely phenomenal. Phe-nom-e-nal.

“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
Listening to Dale’s reading of this story has become a yearly tradition at our house. The story can be a bit mature, but it’s a great way to celebrate the Christmas season.

“Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie
After the success of a short story and play about Peter Pan, Barrie developed a novel called “Peter and Wendy.” This novel, here known as “Peter Pan,” is sweet, full of wit, and a bit darker than the Disney story.

“Peter and the Wolf” by Sergei Prokofiev
This enchanting fairy-tale is told with Dale’s characteristic energy, and paired with some of the best-known songs (performed by the Seattle Symphony). Be warned, however, that the ending is changed from the original.

“Return to the Hundred Acre Wood” by David Benedictus
Written in 2009, this story brings back Pooh and his friends with the permission of A.A. Milne’s estate. It’s not exactly the same feel (some of the magic of the original is gone), but with Dale it’s still a good listen.

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
Enter the world of fantasy and nonsense with Carroll’s one-of-a-kind tale. This classic is, again, darker than Disney but an enlightening ride all the same.

“Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne
I still have yet to read this classic (PLEASE DON’T TAKE AWAY MY ENGLISH DEGREE), but it has quite the following and I trust Dale. Implicitly.

What are some of your favorite family-friendly audiobooks?? I’d love to try them out.

Eek! It’s Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016Get the spooky scoop on all of Portland’s westside activities this Halloween.

OCTOBER 21 (FRIDAY)
Great Pumpkin Hunt at Garden Home Recreation Center (Portland, 6 to 8 pm, $10): Come for games, crafts, a bouncy house, and bring a flashlight and hunt for pumpkins out back

OCTOBER 22 (SATURDAY)
Monster Mash at Bridgeport Village (Tigard, 9:00 to 10:30 am): California Pizza Kitchen is hosting a fun morning for kids. Registration required.
Villains in the Village at Bridgeport Village (Tigard, 10:30 am to noon): Wear your costume and come fight villains at this fun, free event

OCTOBER 26 (WEDNESDAY)
Safe Trick-or-Treat at Pacific University (Forest Grove, 4 to 7 pm): This 18th annual event has free treats and activities for all
Night-time Walkabout at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro, 6 to 8 pm, ages 8 and up): Register for this free event

OCTOBER 27 (THURSDAY)
Night-time Walkabout at Jackson Bottom Wetlands (Hillsboro, 6 to 8 pm, ages 8 and up): Register for this FREE event

OCTOBER 28 (FRIDAY)
Squishing of the Squash (Oregon Zoo, 10:30 to 11:30 am, FREE with zoo admission): Some of the world’s largest animals squish some of the area’s largest pumpkins
Spooky Dance Party at Shute Park Library (Hillsboro, 6:30 to 8 pm): Dress in costume and come shake it to spooky (but not scary) music
Enchanted Trail and Haunted Trail at Mary S. Young Park (West Linn, 7 to 10 pm, various prices): Bring kids 8 and younger to the charming storybook-themed Enchanted Trail, or wait later to bring the big kids to the freaky Haunted Trail.

OCTOBER 29 (SATURDAY)
Enchanted Trail and Haunted Trail at Mary S. Young Park (West Linn, 7 to 10 pm, various prices): Bring kids 8 and younger to the charming storybook-themed Enchanted Trail, or wait later to bring the big kids to the freaky Haunted Trail.
Howloween at the Oregon Zoo (Portland, 10 am to 3 pm, FREE with zoo admission): Dress in costume and participate in this fun but educational scavenger hunt at the zoo, collecting treats and prizes.
Dia de los Muertos Crafts (Beaverton Library, 11 am to noon)
Oaks Park Halloween Spooktacular (Portland, 1 pm and 7 pm): Skate in costume to Halloween music–games and costume parade too
Halloween Carnival (Beaverton Library, 3 to 4 pm, grades 1 to 5)

OCTOBER 30 (SUNDAY)
Howloween at the Oregon Zoo (Portland, 10 am to 3 pm, FREE with zoo admission): Dress in costume and participate in this fun but educational scavenger hunt at the zoo, collecting treats and prizes.
Not-So-Scary Halloween (Portland Children’s Museum, 10 am to 3 pm): Trick-or-treating, crafts, and games
Oaks Park Halloween Spooktacular (Portland, 1 pm and 7 pm): Skate in costume to Halloween music–games and costume parade too

OCTOBER 31 (MONDAY)
Spooky Babies (Beaverton Library, 10:30 to 11:15 am, up to age 6): Bring your little ones in costume for a parade and fun.
Halloween Dance-o-Rama (Tualatin Public Library, 11 am to noon, ages 6 and under)
Harvest on Main (Hillsboro, 5 to 9 pm): Downtown Hillsboro’s former “Safe n’ Sane” event is now Harvest on Main, and includes more activities and longer hours. You can still bring kids for trick or treating at local businesses as well as fun activities.
Trick-or-Treat at the Streets of Tanasbourne (Hillsboro, 1 to 3 pm, ages 12 and under)
Halloween at Orenco Station (Hillsboro, 3:30 to 5:30 pm): Trick-or-treat in Orenco Station, and enjoy games and crafts with Fancy That and the Dentists at Orenco Station
Spooky Storytime (Beaverton Library, 4 to 5 pm)
Trick-or-Treating at McMenamins’s Grand Lodge (Forest Grove, 4:30 to 6:30 pm, all ages)
Mall-o-ween at Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton, 6 to 7 pm): Trick-or-treat at participating stores

Anything I missed? Please comment below!

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Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

What: Latourell Falls
Where: Columbia River Gorge (Oregon side)

When: Year round
Why: Beautiful sights with or without a hike
Cost: FREE

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So funny story: on New Year’s Day of this year we thought we’d head to the Gorge. The weather was cold but the skies were clear and we wanted to get outside. We decided to hike Latourell Falls (based on our dear friend Becky’s recommendation). The lower falls are right by the parking lot—you can hop out of your car and see the falls in a minute. There’s a viewpoint if you walk up the stairs from the lot, and you can walk around the actual falls if you go down the stairs.

We were feeling eager to move so we decided to take the trail to the smaller-but-still-lovely upper falls. There is a 2.5-mile loop that takes you down to the other falls and back. The kids were happy and we were up for it—why not try it?

Well, it was January 1. Winter, folks. As we went along the trail following Henderson Creek, it got a bit narrow and covered with snow here and there. At first it was charming and beautiful, but then there was more and more snow and ice. When we reached the falls, it was truly breathtaking: the area was covered in ice. The falls were partially frozen, and the mist had coated everything with this incredible layer of ice. Every rock, every blade of grass, the bridge, the trail… everything!

I looked at our three kids, and thought, “Welp! That was cool. Let’s go back the way we came.” But no, my husband really, REALLY wanted to do the loop. So he went ahead and tried walking slowly down the trail, and he immediately fell down. Like, immediately (it’s okay to laugh, I sure did). Again, I thought that was it. But no, he somehow persuaded us all to scoot along down the icy trail and across the bridge sitting on our behinds. It was hilarious. We were all laughing, and my only regret is that there weren’t other hikers nearby at the time to enjoy the absurdity.

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We ended up completing the loop, but not without some cold, tired little hikers. We loved what we saw, but I thought, “I can’t recommend hiking this in the winter on my blog! Somebody will sue!” We decided we really needed to come back and try it in the summer.

I’m happy to report we did. At least the lower falls. We came with my husband’s family last month, took the stairs to the bottom of the falls, and walked behind the water and all around the amazing rock formations. It was peaceful and lush and green, and nobody had to scoot on their butts.

The rocks were so fascinating that I ended up asking my uncle/retired professor/botanist/scientist extraordinaire about them. He replied:

“Look up BASALT COLUMNS. They form if you allow basalt to cool—and, from looking at the photos you just sent, it looks like you may have become distracted, walked off and let it do just that. (Actually, the whole Gorge is basalt with some spectacular examples of columns.)”

A Good Gray: Latourell Falls

He’s smart. And hilarious.

So visit Latourell Falls for sure! But if you go in the winter, you didn’t hear it from me. ;)

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Banks-Vernonia State Trail

What: Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Where: 21 miles between the cities of Banks and Vernonia

When: Year round
Why: It’s easy biking and hiking for your family with breathtaking views
Cost: FREE

AGoodGray Banks Vernonia State Trail

Over the Memorial Day weekend we went on our first family bike ride since our eldest mastered ye ol’ training wheels. We’d heard great things about the Banks-Vernonia Trail, so we went to see for ourselves.

It was BEAUTIFUL. At the risk of sounding bossy, you simply MUST try it out this summer.

The trail is paved, clear, often shaded, and overall pretty darn flat (in a former life, this trail was a railroad track). You’ll pass pristine farms and gorgeous countryside. Cyclists, runners, hikers, and folks on horseback are all welcome on this trail. Dogs must be on a leash.

Park for free at one of six trailheads: Banks, Manning, Buxton, Tophill, Beaver Creek, and Vernonia. The trail also runs through L. L. Stub Stewart State Park.

We drove to Banks and parked in an overflow parking “lot” (this gravel strip across from the paved lot was gratefully legit); it was Memorial Day, after all. Although the lot was full, we were happy to see the trail wasn’t. We had our bike trailer and a young cyclist, so we just kept to the right when needed at our sloooow training-wheel pace, and we didn’t feel crowded at all.

We biked about 4 miles to the Manning parking lot to rest and relieve (most lots have some sort of bathroom or port-of-potty). The Manning stop is right off Highway 26, so Dad risked life and limb to run across and down it to get us Dilly Bars at Dairy Queen. They were cherry. I don’t recommend the life-risking or the cherry bars, but do what you like.

The 4 miles back were tough on our 6-year-old, but she did it and I couldn’t be prouder. She has informed me that next time 6 miles round trip would be better than 8, so we’ll consider that for our next adventure. We’ll definitely be back to try it again!

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