Stay Cool with Hot Summer Fun in the Northwest

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July 1, 2012

After April, May, and June showers, July flowers are finally here! And those flowers are wilting fast because of the heat. Fortunately, the Northwest’s diverse landscape makes it easy to experience the great outdoors without getting terribly overheated. When the weather gets to be like this, it’s good to plan your activities around refreshment possibilities.

One good idea is to go on a shaded hike that ends at a watering hole. Oregon has many hiking opportunities, but one of the most beloved is Punchbowl Falls, located near Multnomah Falls and Mt. Hood National Forest. The Eagle Creek to Punchbowl trail is a relaxing two miles of very minimal elevation. The hike ends at a big pool of glacial water, cold enough to refresh any sweaty hiker.

For a low-key outing in a more central area of the Willamette Valley, try the Lake Creek Recreation Area near Triangle Lake in Blachly, Oregon. Built as a fish ladder and hatchery, the park is easily accessible from the road, and is a popular spot for all kinds of Willamette Valley residents to bring a picnic. The big draws of this place are the excellent diving cliffs and natural rock slides. There are three jumping spots of various heights to choose from, and a naturally occurring water slide of moss-covered rocks.

When it comes to places to cool off within Portland, there are many well-known standards. Sauvie Island has a great beach, and many fountains around town serve as makeshift swimming pools for locals. But if you are new to Portland, and you feel the urge to take a dip in the Willamette River, be warned that Portland’s portion of the river is an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, which means it is on the EPA’s list of top places that need to be cleaned. As it stands, the stretch between downtown and Sauvie Island is legally toxic. Better to stay safe and cool off somewhere else in town.