Get Outdoors! Top 10 Nearby Places to go this Summer
Your assignments are wrapping up, the days are getting longer, and the weather is getting nicer. This means just one thing: summer break is on the way! There are just a few weeks of school left, and then you’ll have almost three months of freedom. You can sleep in, lie on the couch, play video games, and watch movies all day long… Sounds fun, right??
Maybe not. It doesn’t take long for lying around and doing nothing to become incredibly dull. After just a few days of no school, “I’m bored” might become your new favorite phrase. This boredom may lead to laziness, lack of motivation, loneliness, or depression – all of which have damaging effects. Or perhaps your boredom will lead you to get involved in partying, smoking, or hanging out with people who don’t build you up. This alternative is also dangerous, and can yield negative outcomes as well. Therefore it is important to find other activities to keep you busy, healthy, and entertained this summer.
The list of possible summer activities is endless. Even if you stay home, you can find countless books to read, crafts to do, foods to bake, games to play, and more. These are all great options, and they’re good alternatives to playing video games or drinking. Sometimes, however, it can be fun to get outside and explore. Summer is the perfect time to go on adventures, and the good news is there are plenty of cool outdoor destinations in and surrounding Yamhill County. All these places are cheap or free, and they are close enough that you won’t spend much money on gas either! Some are even close enough to bike to, depending on where you live.
Closeness and cost effectiveness aren’t the only benefits of getting outside. Countless studies have shown a variety of positive effects from being outdoors. Being in nature has been shown to help us feel more alive, which not only gives us more energy for things they enjoy, but also makes us more resilient to physical illness. Being outdoors also leads to a heightened sense of well-being and better overall health. Researchers suggest this is because being in the sunlight outside increases vitamin D intake, which helps with cancer prevention, hormonal problems, obesity, and having a strong immune system. Studies also show that being outdoors can increase sleep quality; sunlight helps set the body’s internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep. Being in nature leads to reduced stress, more creativity, and improved concentration as well. Clearly going outside has many benefits, so here’s a list of nearby places to go to get you started (in no particular order):
- Champoeg State Park
Champoeg State Park is located on Champoeg Road in St Paul, Oregon. It only costs $5 to enter in a car, or you can bike or use an Oregon State Parks Pass to get in for free! Champoeg is full of picnic and barbeque areas, so pack some food, grab some friends, and enjoy lunch or dinner by the river or in a field! There are also a number of dirt trails by the river that are good for running and walking, as well as paved trails that can be used for everything, including biking. If you’re craving a cold soda or popsicle, try biking the seven mile loop that includes Butteville General Store. Or if you have a friend with a boat or raft, try going down to the docks. Also, be on the lookout for the first signs of ripe blackberries in July and August! Finally, if you enjoy camping or staying overnight in Yurts, grab a group of friends and talk with a park ranger about the possibility of renting a campsite for the night. You can’t go wrong at Champoeg—it is a beautiful area with a variety of available activities!
Visit http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=79 for directions and more information.
- Henry Hagg Lake
Henry Hagg Lake is located on SW Scoggins Valley Road in Gaston, Oregon (near Forest Grove). There’s only a $6 entry fee, and the lakefront is the perfect place to gather with a group of friends and enjoy a picnic or barbeque. Plus you can cool off in the lake when you get too hot, take a nap in the grass, or find a shady spot to read a book. Hagg Lake is also a good place to bring boats, kayaks, paddle boards, and inner tubes! Canoes, fishing boats, and motor boats are available to rent, starting as low as $20. And if you enjoy mountain biking, you don’t want to miss Hagg Lake. The 13-mile bike trail that loops around the lake is full of hills, turns, bumps, and beautiful scenery. Or if this sounds a little too intense, the paved road around the lake is great for biking and still has beautiful views! Fishing, disc golf, hiking, and bird watching are also available at Hagg Lake.
Visit http://www.co.washington.or.us/hagglake/ for directions and more information.
- Magness Memorial Tree Farm
Magness Tree Farm is located on Ladd Hill Road in Sherwood. Its trails are full of trees, hills, birds, flowers, and more. Set aside 60-90 minutes for the Woods Tour and Trail, or try the Nagle Tour and Trail if you want a shorter hike. Enjoy a peaceful walk with friends, or challenge yourself with a tough hill running workout!
Visit http://www.worldforestry.org/index.php?page=trails-and-hikes for directions and more information.
- Roger’s Landing County Park
Roger’s Landing is the boat launch here in Newberg. Entry is free, and it’s a great place to set out on a kayaking, boating, jet skiing, or tubing adventure (it costs $3 to launch a boat). Or you can stay on land and have a picnic, lie on the dock, and fish. Another fun option is to borrow tubes or rafts (or find them for fairly cheap) and float the river. If you have 2-3 hours set aside, you can float from Roger’s Landing to Champoeg State Park.
Visit http://www.co.yamhill.or.us/content/rogers-landing for directions and more information.
- Chehalem Paddle Launch
Chehalem Park and Recreation District’s (CPRD) Chehalem Paddle Launch is only a few years old, and it’s a great edition to the Yamhill Valley. Located on 8th Street in Dundee, it’s the only rental facility on the Willamette River in Yamhill County. Paddle board and kayak rentals start at $22, and canoe and tandem kayak rentals start at $30. Paddles and life jackets are included! The paddle launch is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Visit http://www.cprdnewberg.org/chehalempaddlelaunch.shtml for directions and more information.
- Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
If you live in Yamhill County, chances are you’ve passed the Wildlife Refuge when driving down Highway 99 toward Sherwood. It’s hard to miss, but have you ever actually stopped there? If not, try it sometime—you won’t be disappointed. In the gift shop/museum you can browse around, learn some about birds and wildlife, and look through binoculars to see a bald eagle in its nest. Then you can wander behind the building and find acres of beautiful trails. Enjoy a peaceful walk alone, find a bench to sit on, or bring a binocular or camera to examine and photograph all the birds. There are almost 200 species of birds and over 50 species of mammals, and there are also reptiles, amphibians, insects, and fish. The best news is… you don’t have to pay a thing!
Visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Tualatin_River/ for directions and more information.
- Bald Peak State Park
Bald Peak State Park is found in the Chehalem Hills between Newberg and Hillsboro. With an elevation of 1629 feet, the park has a beautiful view. Stop by to enjoy a picnic on the grassy hillside or go for a walk through the Douglas fir trees.
Visit http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=77 for directions and more information.
- Jaquith Park
Jaquith is located right off college street in Newberg. It’s a great park to visit because in addition to a playground it has picnic tables, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, a figure-eight shaped trail, and beautiful grassy areas. Get a group of friends together to play a ballgame, eat a picnic lunch, ride longboards (with helmets!), do an interval running workout, or set up a game of Bocce Ball or badminton…the possibilities are endless!
Visit http://www.cprdnewberg.org/ParksFacilities/parks.shtml for directions and more information.
- Newberg Farmers Market
The Newberg Farmers’ Market is located at the Newberg Cultural District Pavilion behind the Newberg Public Library. It’s open every Wednesday from the end of May through the end of September from 1:30-6 p.m. The farmers market supports local sustainable farmers, so go check out all the booths!
Visit http://www.newbergdowntown.org/newberg-farmers-market/ for directions and more information.
- McMinnville Farmers’ Market
The McMinnville Farmers’ Market is found on NE Cowls Street between 2nd and 3rd Street in McMinnville. It’s open on Thursdays from May 21st-October 8th from 1-6 p.m. The market offers farm fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, herbs, and craft items. There’s also live music each week!
Visit http://www.downtownmcminnville.com/mcminnville-farmers-market for directions and more information.
These are just a few possibilities for fun outdoor places to check out this summer. Enjoy the sun, and get outside!