UPDATED NOV 26, 2019
Sometimes you just need to get out of town for a breath of fresh air. Luckily, Portland neighbors tons of tree-lined trails, lush forests, and mountainous venues. So, pitch a tent, turn off your phone, and escape the city for a while.
The view of a snowcapped Mount Hood has no doubt teased you during the week. So why not take a trip a bit closer to Oregon’s tallest peak? Trillium Lake Campground has it all — a shady mix of conifer trees, a large lake for boating and, of course, an intimate view of Mount Hood in the background. Fish for trout or take a short hike on one of several nearby trails. Or, do both.
Whether you prefer a more rustic camping experience or a trip with amenities, Lost Lake has an option for everyone. With 140 campsites, there’s ample room to pitch a tent or park an RV. Looking for a natural getaway that includes a flushing toilet and a comfy, king-size bed? Rent one of their lodge rooms or cabins — you’ll get the view without the mosquito bites.
Take it back to basics with a night (or several) at Beacon Rock State Park. A modest campground best suited for tents, this year-round camping spot in the Columbia River Gorge offers a simplistic weekend getaway. Beacon Rock—the core of a volcano that erupted about 57,000 years ago—is the area’s main feature, but the scenic drive to the campground is just as grand.
Trouble choosing what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered. At Lower Falls Campground, you can indulge in a bit of everything. This seasonal campground boasts hiking trails, mountain biking trails, horse trails, and even motorcycle trails (so many trails!) — and they’re all within 10 miles of the campground. So round up some friends, pitch a tent, and choose your preferred method of trail transportation. You won’t be disappointed.
Ah, Timothy Lake — a water-lover’s dream. With options for canoeing, fishing, and windsurfing, you might want to save this one for a long weekend. Seven campgrounds provide 200 campsites for those looking to indulge in grand views of this deep blue lake with Mount Hood in the background. We suggest a picnic upon arrival at one of the several picnic areas. Afterward, hike one of the nearby trails before retiring to your tent as the sun sets below the trees.
If you don’t mind a longer drive, this coastal retreat offers an entirely unique camping experience. Once a military fortress, Fort Stevens now sits on a 4,300-acre park where campers can indulge in freshwater lake swimming, beachcombing, and wildlife viewing. The area also boasts nine miles of paved bike paths and six miles of hiking trails that wind through robust forests, wetlands, and dunes. Needless to say, you won’t get bored.
We’d be remiss not to include the first developed campground in the National Forest System. This campsite is nearby the Eagle Creek Trail, which leads to the beautiful and ever-popular Punch Bowl Falls and Tunnel Falls. The waterfalls alone provide reason enough to spend a night at this campground. Our only caveat: this site is situated near the highway, so traffic is audible at night. But we think the nearby trail and historical context more than make up for it.
Seeking a quiet, quick getaway? This is it. Despite being a convenient, one-hour drive from Portland, this campground is only moderately trafficked and, as a result, remains fairly quiet. A nearby stream drowns noise from the highway while an abundance of trees shades it from the sun. Fun fact: The nearby Barlow Road was once a branch of the Oregon Trail and included a tollgate that charged $5 per wagon and 10 cents per piece of livestock. A tollgate replica is set up just east of the campground, but they won’t charge you per cooler.
New to the outdoor scene? This is the campground for you. With flushing toilets, manicured fields, and nearby volleyball courts, Beaver Campground is for people who aren’t totally in love with bare-bones camping. So ease yourself into the camping spirit with a visit to this spot. No need to give up flushing toilets just yet. Major plus: The nearby town, Carson, is known for its hot springs, which are the perfect way to top the day off after a few hours of hiking.
Rushing falls. Evergreen shade. A trickling river. This popular, year-round campground is a breath of fresh air — and it’s only about an hour from the city bustle. Sunset Falls has two camping options. A drive-up campground nearby the East Fork Lewis River is ideal for those looking to park and pitch a tent. Campers seeking something a bit more secluded can opt for one of the walk-in-only campsites. Shade from cedars, maples, alders, and Doug firs make this campground feel like your own little oasis away from the daily grind.
Sure, there are plenty of deep forest camping areas in Portland, but Nehalem Bay State Park offers a coastal camping experience complete with sandy dunes, bike paths, and lots of wildlife. Choose to lay your head in one of their 18 on-site yurts (including nine that are pet-friendly), pitch a tent at one of their hike- or bike-in camping sites, or, if you're into horseback riding, stay the night at one of their primitive horse campsites. Either way, you'll have access to hot showers and flushing toilets. When you're not making s'mores or cooking your dinner over an open flame, you can kayak, go sea fishing, crabbing, or clamming, or simply walk along the shore and collect shells.
Editor’s note: due to fires, other acts of nature, or construction, trails or campgrounds may be temporarily closed. Please consult the Forest Service website before venturing out.
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