During the 1800s, a steady stream of settlers began staking their claims in the Mt. Hood Territory, just south and east of present-day Portland. The attraction was obvious: a fertile valley for crops, rushing rivers and vistas of iconic Mount Hood.
Today, the area still rewards visitors not only with its stunning beauty, but also with a rich diversity of attractions, from back-to-the-land driving tours to nature trails and arts festivals — any of which make blazing your own trail of discovery worthwhile.
Fuel up for a day’s explorations at Bob’s Red Mill, home to a popular whole grain store and visitors center serving hearty omelets, cereals and breakfast sandwiches. Also on offer: more than 400 kinds of flours, cereals, meals and mixes to take home. Just down the road, a free tour of the mill lets visitors see precisely where many of the morning’s goodies came from.
The locavore theme continues with the Molalla Country Farm Loop in the east Willamette Valley. The 35-mile, self-guided route tours more than two dozen farms and producers. Growers on the loop include fragrant lavender farms and up-and-coming winemakers such as AlexEli Vineyards and Winery, producers of a Riesling that drew rave reviews at Portland’s 2011 Indie Wine & Food Festival. You can also scoop up ingredients like grass-fed lamb and farm-fresh eggs from SuDan Farm and micro greens from the Little Homestead Farm.
After dinner in Lake Oswego, settle into the comfortable rooms at the Lakeshore Inn. Flush with amenities, this upscale, pet-friendly inn boasts a heated lakeside pool and private decks.
In the morning, visit St. Honoré Boulangerie for French-inspired pastries like pain aux raisins and Mirlitons de Rouen, almond tartlets filled with vanilla-poached pears. Next, head to Oregon City — the historic end of the Oregon Trail — for a relaxed cruise on the water, courtesy of eNRG Kayaking.
The company offers daily flat-water kayak tours on the Willamette River, taking you to the base of thundering Willamette Falls. Or you can chart a land route on one of many nearby hiking trails, including those in Burnside Park, Camassia Nature Preserve or Cedar Island.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop inside the cozy Highland Stillhouse for fish and chips, banger sliders, Scotch eggs and a wide selection of single-malt scotch and imported beers. Or, if it’s a Saturday from May to October, return to Lake Oswego for a locally sourced lunch and live music at the Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market, held in Millennium Plaza Park. Just one block north, you can walk off lunch while window-shopping at the town’s specialty boutiques. In June, look for the Lake Oswego Festival of Arts, which includes more than 110 art booths, interactive exhibits and live music.