Grant’s Getaways: Paddling the Tualatin River


The slow-moving stream is flanked by towering trees that put on a colorful spectacle each fall.

TUALATIN, Ore. — We tend to think that great adventures often require trips to faraway and exotic destinations. I recently discovered that you don’t have to travel far to experience something new.

I went on a unique hike in a rugged, remote location that’s surprisingly not far from our own backyards. It was a getaway that took effort, planning and perseverance.

The Tualatin River meanders through neighborhoods and industry on the western edge of the Portland metro area.

It’s a slow-moving stream flanked by towering trees that puts on quite a colorful spectacle each fall.

Yet natural drama is only part of the story of the Tualatin River on a getaway that takes effort, planning and perseverance according to a small platoon of adventurers from the Tualatin Riverkeepers, a group local conservation.

The group had gathered at Menefee Park in Yamhill County to compare notes and prepare their gear for a day’s hike through one of the most amazing and surprising sights in the Tualatin River watershed.

“It’s rugged, it’s treacherous and you need a good topographical map, a compass and GPS would help you find it,” noted longtime Tualatin River Guardian Paul Whitney.

Tarri Christopher, a member of TRK, agreed: “Not everyone can do this. It’s not a ‘take the whole family and go for a walk’ hike. You have to be prepared – you have to be in good shape. “

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Fit enough to tackle the steep, relentless and unforgiving terrain along the upper Tualatin River in the mountains of Oregon’s Coast Range to reach Ki-A-Kuts Falls.

Flanked by basalt columns and cliffs, Ki-A-Kuts Falls is a timeless and serene moment.

But thirty miles to the east, the Tualatin River slows and beckons visitors to enjoy something much more peaceful and relaxing at Farmington Paddle Launch.

“It’s kind of a middle point between Beaverton and Hillsboro,” noted TRK member Mike Skuja. “The launch is right on the river – plenty of room to get your boat out of the vehicle and into the water. The folks at Clean Water Services have been doing habitat restoration and we’ve been involved in that as well. We’ I planted dozens of trees; I tried to restore some of the natural ecology of the area.”

“If you look around the site, you will find picnic tables where people can have lunch outdoors,” added METRO planner Tannen Printz. “We also have benches where you stop and enjoy the scenery and wildlife – there are all kinds of bird species that visit the site.”

The Farmington Paddle Launch was built through a partnership between METRO and Clean Water Services.

The boat ramp provides a safe and accessible location to set out on the Tualatin River Water Trail.

“It only drops about three feet in 40 miles,” added Bill Gaffi of Clean Water Services. In the summer you can just put your canoe or kayak there and paddle upstream for an hour, then turn around and paddle downstream.

The Tualatin River Trail is forty miles long and perfect for flat water paddling from Hillsboro to West Linn.

Sandra Amolo and her friend, Jessica Bucciarelli, were having fun.

“Everything is so beautiful,” Amolo noted. “It’s so beautiful and so relaxing on the water.”

Bucciarelli agreed and added, “It’s not very difficult for us newcomers. In fact, newbie paddlers will feel right at home.”

Amolo added: “A lot of people don’t know that the Tualatin is right in their backyard. You can easily drive to the seven-acre park and have immediate access to the river. I think it’s a resource. undervalued that more people will enjoy once they visit.”

“The Farmington launch site, in particular, is the first new site on the water trail in nearly a decade,” Skuja said. “So for us, it’s a way to open up more community engagement on the west side of the watershed.”

OTHER STORIES: Cycling, playing and picnicking along the Luckiamut River | Grant’s Getaways

Be sure to follow my adventures in Oregon via Grant’s Getaways podcast. Each segment is a storytelling session where I tell behind-the-scenes stories from four decades of travel and TV reporting.

You can also read about many of my favorite trips and adventures in Oregon in Grant’s Getaways book series, including:

“Grants Getaways I”, photography by Steve Terrill

“Grant’s Getaways II”, photography by Steve Terrill

“Grant’s Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures,” Photograph by Jeff Kastner

“Grant’s Getaways: Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon,” Photograph by Jeff Kastner

“Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids”, Photograph by Jeff Kastner

The collection features hundreds of outdoor activities across Oregon and promises to engage a child of any age.


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