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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

hikes with kids: elk rock island









One of our favorite nature spots near Portland is Elk Rock Island, which is an island in the middle of the Willamette River in Milwaukie. It is a quick drive and a beautiful spot to explore with unusual terrain. The trail to the island is surrounded by cottonwoods, whose sweet scent fills the air in the spring. Access to the island depends on the river,  and how high the water is. On every visit except this last one we have been able to make it across to the actual island, but even if you can't cross the river, there is still lots to see and do. 

It is great spot to watch the boats go by, throw rocks in the water, hike around the island, watch birds, collect cottonwood buds, scramble around on the rocks, pretend to go fishing, and look for frog eggs. If you have littler ones you do need to keep an eye on them, as you are surrounded by water and there are parts with steep drop-offs. But plenty of little ponds to explore and flat spots to play on. On the edge of the island there is a rocky beach which is a great spot to watch boats and throw rocks. Occasionally there are some sketchy people hanging out on the main trail and teenagers also come out here for some mild partying, but we haven't had any issues so far. We mostly seem to run into birders on our visits there. We like to visit frequently in the spring to check on the frog eggs, which everyone in our family finds very exciting. 






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