Natural playgrounds don’t come much bigger than Sauvie Island — at 24,000 acres, the Manhattan-size isle is one of the largest river islands in the country and sits at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers just 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland. And from one end to the other, families can find an entire day’s worth of adventures; it’s a hot spot for fruits and veggies, as well as a paradise for bird-watchers, beach-goers, bicyclists and kayakers.
For a quick nature excursion, take the Wapato Access Greenway State Park Trail, an easy two-mile loop that tours a seasonal lake. Among mammoth bigleaf maples and Douglas firs you’re likely to spot at least half a dozen kinds of birds, including bald eagles. At the northeast end of the island, the seven-mile round-trip Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail leads to a sandy beach with views of Oregon’s smallest lighthouse.
Getting lost is just part of the fun at the Pumpkin Patch. Open from June through the first week of November, the farm boasts two of the area’s largest corn mazes, including a “haunted” maze each fall, while a barnyard petting zoo and fields of U-pick berries make for sweet memories.
No island visit is complete without a trip to Kruger’s Farm, which hosts a weekly summer concert series, a fall harvest party and free hayrides into the pumpkin fields. Adults have plenty of reason to cheer, too: On weekends, the Captured by Porches beer bus serves up fresh microbrews.
On the north and east coast of the island, sandy beaches beckon swimmers and sunbathers. Enjoy a picnic on the sand or wade in the gradual, waist-deep waters of the Columbia River by the shore at the Reeder, North Unit, Walton, Collins and Warrior Point public beaches.