Sauvie Island is a short jump away from Portland, but far from the city in spirit. With such a nearby place ripe with fun, it makes a perfect weekend day trip. The 26,000 acre island has hiking, biking, farms, and a beach and offers year-round fun for the whole family. Whether your kids are interested in searching for snakes, digging into history at a pioneer-era orchard, pedaling their legs out or hunting for the perfect pumpkin, the island offers it all. Read on for our guide to island fun!

photo: abi p. via flickr

Hiking Adventures

Skip the long beach trail to the lighthouse and head to Wapato Access Greenway Trail, a fabulous and easy 2.5 miles around a lake. The flat loop is great for toddlers or kiddos getting used to their hiking legs, or parents of newborns rediscovering theirs! There are lots of opportunities to watch for wildlife, too, with the woods full of bugs, snakes, birds, and critters! (The non-lethal garter snakes aren’t dangerous! That said, naturalists usually recommend just looking.)

Alternatively, take the family to Oak Island Nature Trail, a flat, wide-open space that’s great for running around. There’s not a lot to look at here (except for blackberries along the trail!) but the freedom of letting the kids literally run wild is not to be overlooked!

Parking permit required for Oaks Island, none required for Wapato.
Wapato Online: oregonhikers.org
Oaks Island Online: oregonhikers.org

 

photo: darin via flickr

For Two Wheels

The 12-mile loop makes a great way to hop from farm-to-farm and enjoy the rolling hills. Note that it is  along the road with little-to-no-shoulder, so it’s best for kids in trailers or bike seats, or older kids who know how to ride around light traffic. The route is easy to break into shorter chunks, and there are plenty of stops along the way to stretch or rest tiny legs. If it’s an especially busy weekend, skip the farms at the beginning of the island and drive further in before riding, to stay away from traffic. (Or let the kids catch a ride on a cow train at one of the farms, below!)

Online: sauvieisland.org

photo: rafael via yelp 

Pack a Picnic

Gather some goodies for a picnic at local farms or bring your own, then head to the Bybee-Howell House and Park. The historic white farmhouse has stood since the 1850’s and presides over a neat little area to explore. Eat your picnic under the big oak trees or check out the pioneer orchard in back (be sure to tell the kids that those trees were planted from cuttings carried by wagons on the Oregon Trail!) You can also spot birds in the wetlands nearby.

Open sunrise to sunset
Online: oregonmetro.gov/parks/howell-territorial-park

Build a Sand Castle

The island has some of Portland’s best beaches, for good reason. Close enough for easy access, wild enough to go free. During the warm months the shores are stocked with families looking to escape the heat. Don’t be shy once October rolls around–there are enough sunny days that a brisk fall adventure is still fun!

Online: sauvieisland.org

photo: smit via yelp

Pick Your Own Produce

The plentiful farms are the soul of the island! During the summer and fall the roughly dozen u-pick farms get over a million visitors, but don’t let the crowds deter you. Almost any weekend through late fall is a great time to visit, getting lost in a corn maze, stocking up on produce, picking your own veggies, or photographing the family in a pumpkin field. Some of the biggest and best farms, especially for fall, include Kruger’s, Bella Organics, and Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch.

Kruger’s Farm Market
17100 NW Sauvie Island Rd, Portland, OR 9723
503-621-3489
Online: krugersfarm.com/

Bella Organics
16205 NW Gillihan Rd, Portland, OR 97231
503-621-9545
Online: bellaorganic.com/

Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch
16511 NW Gillihan Rd, Portland, OR 97231
503-621-3874
Online: thepumpkinpatch.com/

photo: jevonnie via yelp

Need to Know

The island takes about 30 minutes to get to via a single bridge from US 30, and another 30 minutes to get across. There are no gas stations there, so be sure to fill up before you arrive. Restrooms can be scarce: most farms have options, many are porta potties. Note that all wildlife areas on the island require parking passes for $10/day, which can be purchase at the Cracker Barrel store just to the left of the bridge when you arrive, or at the Oregon Dept. Fish and Wildlife further down. (The pass is not required to visit any farms.)

Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
18330 NW Sauvie Island Road
503.621.3488

The Cracker Barrel Store
15005 NW Sauvie Island Road

What’s your favorite Sauvie adventure? Tell us in the comments below!

—Katrina Emery