Hike in Oregon forest man walking in red shirt on hiking trail

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Discover Waterfalls and Hiking Trails, Travel Oregon with a 7-day Adventure

If you’re seeking adventure amidst beautiful landscapes, Oregon has it all. From the quirky charm of Portland to the breathtaking the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls, this state beckons you to explore the great outdoors. Life in Oregon isn’t about material possessions; it’s about seizing the opportunities for adventure that surround you. Traveling to Oregon can be a surprising adventure. Here is a 7-day adventure to travel Oregon.

Oregon is a big state; seeing it all in a week stretches your time too thin. On this trip, we are sticking to the state’s northern section, saving the southern areas of Bend and Crater Lake for another trip. After this trip, you will want to go back and experience more.

Oregon Travel At-A-Glance

Portland is the launch pad. A city with surprises around every corner. Check out the gardens, bike the riverfront, chow down at a food cart, and sample a few donuts.

Next, the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River tempt you to the great outdoors. Explore the over 90 Columbia River Gorge waterfalls, kayak Lost Lake with Mt. Hood as your backdrop, and hike to the top of a mountain. Oh, and don’t skip the breweries; you can’t skip beer in Oregon.

Spend a day or two in the Willamette Valley tasting wine and visiting a Dahlia farm. A night in a vintage trailer resort makes the perfect end to the day.

Finish up by experiencing the coastal area; a drive from Tillamook to Cannon Beach offers hiking and eating opportunities. The Haystack Rocks and a walk on the beach culminate in a nighttime beach bonfire.

Now that you know where we are headed, let’s get going.

Day 1 Portland

Our journey starts and ends in the City of Roses, Portland. Weird & Wonderful, this is the perfect launch pad for a tour of the northern part of the state.

The riverfront is a constant presence. Combining urban sophistication with the wilderness, hills, and trees almost always in view. It’s a very accessible city, easy to navigate on foot or bike. And it has a little something for everyone; food, beer, shopping, nature, and urban life. If you only have one night, here are a few things you should try: it will give you a taste of the city and entice you to make a return visit.

1. Food Carts

This is hands down one of the best culinary cities of its size in the country. And although it has some great restaurants, we were all about the food cart culture. You will find an excellent food truck or cart pod on nearly every corner. And these food carts are making some fantastic food. A personal favorite is Prost Market Place. If you want to join a tour of Portland food carts and pods, I recommend the Portland Food Carts, Pods & Patio Tour. They will hit some of the above-mentioned pods.

2. Gardens and Roses

Portland is called the city of roses, and for a good reason, roses thrive in this climate. The International Rose Test Garden has a commanding view of the city. It is located in Washington Park, adjacent to the center of Portland. The park is a beautiful urban oasis, with over 15 miles of trails covering 410 acres. Located nearby the Portland Japanese Garden (an authentic Japanese garden), considered by many to be the best outside of Japan.

3. An Urban Ride or Walk

Portland is a biking city and a great way to explore. Our hotel offered free bikes. You can rent bikes from several locations and take a biking tour. Which we used to explore the riverfront trail system. Look for a tour, check out the Bike Around Portland Oregon Tour,

Not up for a ride? Portland is an easy city to walk around, although the hills can sometimes be challenging if you are not prepared. You can also take segments of these rides on foot.

4. Donuts!

This city loves donuts. Everyone will answer differently about which donut shop has the best donuts in Portland. But you can try out Blue Star, Voodoo, and Doe Donuts and judge for yourself.

Take a Donut tour, check out this Viator tour called Portland’s Only Underground Donut Tour.

For a more detailed look at one night in Portland, check out this post.

Day 2-4 The Wild & Wonderful Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. It’s vast, it’s wild, and it has something for nearly everyone.

The area is made for exploring; seeing it all would take weeks. If you have only a few days, narrow it down. Here are a few highlights you can experience during a 2-3 day drive (yes, a car is a must in the area).

Oregon Waterfall
Oregon Waterfall
Waterfalls and More Waterfalls

We hopped on the historic Columbia River Highway as we left Portland. This is a stunning highway ride along the wild, windy river, with over 90 waterfalls in a 30-mile stretch.

Why are there so many waterfalls in the Columbia River National Recreation Area? It’s because the canyon created along the river dividing Oregon and Washington has canyon walls reaching 4,000 feet. And all that Pacific Northwest rain has to go somewhere, so it rushes down the sides into the Columbia River below.

Along this stretch of road, you will have your choice of falls to visit. I’m highlighting my favorites. You can only easily experience some of them in a one-day drive, so pick and choose. Driving west along the river, these are my picks. (Link to a more detailed page on the waterfalls)

  1. Latourell Falls
    This 249-foot waterfall is a great first stop. I recommend the 2.4-mile LaTourell Falls loop trail.
  2. Bridal Veil Falls
    This is a two-part, 120-foot waterfall. You can view it from two vantage points, one above the falls and one below the falls.
  3. Wahkeena Falls
    This 242-foot cascading fall is just a short .2-mile hike from the parking lot.
  4. Multnomah Falls
    This is the iconic waterfall that is most recognizable. It is estimated that 2.5 million people visit these falls each year. So timing is essential. Please don’t skip it, because of the crowds it is worth the visit. But try to arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds.
  5. Horsetail Falls (including a hike to the upper falls and walk behind the falls)
    If you want to escape the crowds a bit after viewing the lower falls, take the 1-mile hike to the upper falls.

Hood River was our ultimate destination on this day. It’s a great little town with restaurants and outstanding breweries. In the early evening, the riverfront was alive with kiteboarders everywhere. The town offers numerous accommodations making it a good base for exploring.

Put On Your Hiking Boots!

Our third day is all about hiking. With the incredible mountain scenery, you must put on your hiking boots and head upwards. Cross the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge to Washington State and head for Dog Mountain. This is a strenuous hike, at only 3 miles round trip but with a 1,500 ft. elevation gain. You can do this as a loop trail, but we opted for the out and back. Throughout the hike, you will have excellent vantage points and the welcomed gorge winds to keep you cool. The summit has a spectacular view and is worth the leg and lung-burning climb. We did this climb in the autumn but heard it is incredible in the spring during prime wildflower bloom.

Dog Mountain trail sign showing the trail choices of difficult or more difficult

We needed food and a beer post-hike, so we headed to Stevenson, Washington, to Walking Man Brewing. It’s hidden down a set of stairs from the street level. They had great food and even better beer. The patio setting was shaded and casual. It’s the perfect place to rest your tired legs after the hike.

Lost Lake & Mt Hood

The Mt Hood volcano looms over the entire area and beckons you to explore. It’s a vast area; unfortunately, we had one day to check it out. We decided to visit Lost Lake, about an hour’s drive from Hood River. This was a fantastic choice. The lake offers some short hikes with great views of Mt Hood. But our favorite part was an hour of tranquil kayaking on the lake. We rented our kayaks from Lost Lake Resort, costing $25 per hour for a single kayak. You can also rent pedal boats and stand-up paddle boards, among other things. This was a highlight of our day.

In the afternoon, we explored the surrounding area and stumbled upon signs for Hood River Lavender Farms, which, unknown to us, was adjacent to Stave & Stone Winery. We toured the lavender fields and drank some wine, the perfect finish to our afternoon. It was a gorgeous fall day, and Stave & Stone had a wonderful lawn filled with chairs and, more important, a bar serving wine.

Want a little more detail on this area, check out my post on Three Days In the Columbia River Gorge.

Day 5 Willamette Valley

Wine lovers know that some of the best Pinot Noir in the country can be found in the Willamette Valley. But you will find more than just pinot here; you will also find cabernets, chardonnays, Rose, Rieslings, and much more. Throw in some great restaurants and a quirky vintage trailer park resort, and you have a great night in Oregon’s wine country.

Right from the start, I will save you from being corrected. It is NOT pronounced Wil-lam-ette. It IS pronounced Will-AM-it. Thanks to a cranky older woman at breakfast one morning who immediately had to correct me, I now know how to pronounce it like a local. I always butcher names, so it was no surprise that I had it wrong.

Before starting the wine tasting, we are making an early morning stop at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon. I love gardening and know several people who LOVE Dahlias, and they insisted I stop here. They were right. In August & September, you can stroll through almost 40 acres of dahlia fields in full bloom. It’s free, and it’s simply incredible. Even if you know nothing about gardening, you will enjoy learning and taking photos of these fantastic plants. FYI, Sunday is a great day to visit because they have a Sunday Market.

Canby is the gateway to the Willamette Valley wine region and is just a short drive to your first winery. This area is the oldest wine region in Oregon and is home to two-thirds of the state’s wineries. The towns of Dundee, Newberg, and McMinnville are good starting points for your exploration. This isn’t Napa Valley; it is more akin to Sonoma County. There is a more laid-back vibe at all of these wineries.

What Makes This A Special Wine Region?

It’s the climate. Oregon isn’t known for its sunny weather. Still, the combination of a wet and cool winter leads to a drier summer with lots of sunshine during the day. Also, the ocean breezes and weather make the area perfect for the Pinot Noir grape variety.

What is nice about this region is the presence of boutique wineries. The rolling hills are dotted with smaller independent growers. Subsequently, as a visitor, you get a more personal and intimate experience.

Many places require you to reserve a tasting time. This is good because it allows for a more planned and relaxed experience. Yes, it does stifle spontaneity, but you get a better experience. You might find a place or two offering a free tasting experience, but the days of free tastings are gone. Most are charging $20 and up for tastings, depending on the type of tasting and the quality of the wines served. For this reason, plan ahead.

Top Picks For Tastings

Our day began at Solena winery. The tasting we reserved was on the patio with a great view of the rolling vineyard. The afternoon was hot for September, and bees were everywhere. However, this was the perfect spot to start our Willamette wine experience.

We enjoyed 5-6 different wines, all of which were excellent. The cost for the tasting was $25 per person.

The tasting day ended at Stoller Family Winery. This is a much larger winery, and the experience is less intimate. But it was an equally wonderful visit. Stoller is set on the largest contiguous vineyard in Dundee. It spans over 400 acres. The setting is terrific, with a large patio area with a view over the valley. It was a very crowded place late on a Sunday afternoon, but luckily we had a reservation.

Other top wineries to check out include Bergstrom, which is a little harder to get a reservation and is a more expensive option). Another don’t miss is Domaine Drouhin, offering both great wine and a wonderful experience.

The Vintages Trailer Resort is a collection of 36 fully restored and custom vintage campers. This resort brought back memories of my childhood trips in our camper. It transported me to another era as the sun went down and the lights came on. The entire experience was perfect. The setup of the park is so magical. The Club House, which has a pool and a fire pit area with lounge seating, was perfect for sharing wine purchased that afternoon while gazing at the stars.

We reserved the 1977 Airstream Sovereign, and it was a great choice. The bathroom was small, so I opted for a shower at the clubhouse in the morning. Which was a good choice since it was clean and modern (not like the camping of my youth).

View of Haystack from Ecola State Park
Day 6-7 Coastal Oregon

First, stop Tillamook, the town that cheddar built. The Tillamook Creamery is a must. Aside from the great cheese ( Fried Cheddar Cheese Curds, Triple Cheese Mac, Double Cheddar Grilled Cheese, you get the idea) and ice cream, you get a cheese-making lesson. On the second level is a self-guided tour with viewing windows of the factory below.

Visit Cape Lookout State Park for a great hike to the tip of Cape Lookout. It’s a 5-mile round-trip hike and relatively flat. But beware, it can be muddy and rocky in places. Our hike was mostly shrouded in fog, with a light mist. When we reached the lookout, we were rewarded with a spectacular clearing of the fog, although it was short-lived.

The next stop Cannon Beach, with its famed Haystack Rock. The town is quaint and offers excellent dining and shopping options. But the reason you visit is the vast and spectacular beach. It is surrounded by wildlife, starfish, birds, and more. It is windy, cool, and misty, but a walk along the beach at low tide rewards you with an up-close experience with Haystack Rock.

Bonfire on Cannon Beach along Oregon coast

The highlight of our stay in Cannon Beach was our beach bonfire. Although it was a bit misty and windy as the sun set, our fire roared along with the sounds of the ocean in the background. We could not have asked for a more relaxing experience.

The following day we explored the Ecola State Park, which is only a few miles north of the hotel. The trail out to Indian Beach was a perfect walk. It’s got a few climbs but nothing too strenuous. You can drive to the beach, but the walk is worth it. Again we were shrouded in fog and mist, but the wildlife on the beach was incredible.

The town of Cannon Beach is worth a stroll. Some great shops including a place to pick up a local favorite, Jacobsen Salt (salt harvested locally from the Pacific Northwest seawater).

In the morning, we drove to PDX for a flight home. It was a trip that surprised us on so many levels. And we seemed to have only scratched the surface. We will definitely return to Oregon soon.

When To Go:

Oregon weather is a bit unpredictable. Its Pacific Northwest location makes it often rainy and cool. The best time to visit is May-October when temperatures a warmer and the chance of sunny skies is better. But except for the Columbia River Gorge, any time of year would work.

How to Get There and Around

Portland is the main airport for visiting Oregon. Flights are plentiful. Once you arrive, you will need a car unless you plan on staying strictly in Portland.

Where to Stay

Portland Hotel Lucia is an excellent downtown option. Prices are reasonable, but the rooms are small. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Other good options include Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel and The Benson.

Hood River has more limited hotels, the Columbia Cliff Villa Hotel was convenient, and the rooms were huge. Sakura Ridge – The Farm and Lodge is another option, although it is a bit removed from the town.

Willamette has The Vintages Trailer Resort, which is a fun and funky option. It’s in the heart of the wine country and offers beautifully restored vintage campers as accommodations. If you prefer a hotel, check out Atticus Hotel, a luxury option in the heart of downtown McMinnville.

In Cannon Beach, the hands-down favorite is the Stephanie Inn. Directly on the beach, it offers excellent amenities and was recently renovated. Other options include The Ocean Lodge or Inn at Cannon Beach.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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