We had a wonderful time in Portland but it was still a pleasure to leave the hustle and bustle of the big, noisy city and head south on I-5 and back into a natural setting at Champoeg State Park
. Even the weather transitioned along with us, from hot and smokey to cool and rainy...fall is in the air!
We stayed at Champoeg last August
and loved it so much we vowed to return. Many of the sites in the B-loop are large with excellent separation. Our site, B5, had privacy shrubs and backed up to a big grassy field, a little slice of heaven after the close quarters and nearly constant noise at Columbia River RV Park in Portland.
|Check out that site separation!|
Champoeg State Park was the site of Oregon's first provincial government, formed by an historical vote in 1843. The park is situated on the banks of the Willamette River and has several miles of paved and natural trails plus a fun disc golf course.
|Lovely walking at Champoeg State Park.|
|Vineyard mansion on the hill overlooking the Willamette River.|
|Paved trail at Champoeg State Park.|
From Champoeg we moved south and east about 25 miles to Silverton, OR. Set among rolling hills lush with filbert orchards, christmas tree farms, fields of blueberries and a variety of other crops, Silverton calls itself both Garden City and City of the Falls, thanks to the lovely Oregon Garden and nearby Silver Falls State Park.
After a couple of days of rain our first outing was a walk in Willamette Mission State Park
. Site of the first Methodist mission for Native Americans in the west (in 1834), the park has several miles of paved and natural trails, a disc golf course, historical sites and extensive picnic areas.
|We were grateful for a paved trail after days of showers.|
|The picnic area (above) is set in a grove of old walnut trees, the disc golf course plays among an old filbert grove.|
|The original mission site is represented by these ghost structures.|
The mission did not last long due to poor siting...it was plagued by floods and mosquito's.
The paved trail led us to a view of the Wheatland Ferry. A ferry has operated at this location since 1844. Today's version can hold up to six cars and is tethered to keep it from floating down stream.
|Wheatland ferry crossing the Willamette River.|
Gardens of all kinds make me enormously happy so high on my list during our stay in Silverton was a visit to The Oregon Garden
. Originally conceived in the 1940's, the garden was finally realized in the late 1990's. This 80 acre property has over 20 specialty gardens depicting every type of habitat found in the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed some alone time in this paradise and recommend it to anyone who gets excited about plants.
|Oyster shell sculpture in the water garden.|
|Hobbit house in the children's garden.|
|Exquisite creek garden.|
|I had this secret, hidden-behind-the-blue-door garden all to myself...heavenly!|
|I did not realize there were two snakes in this photo until I saw it later on my laptop!|
|The extensive forest display included managed and unmanaged forests, hardwood and softwood, |
central OR ponderosa and oak forests...and this funky structure!
Silver Falls State Park
|The conifer display was incredible! So many varieties of conifers that I never knew existed...|
this photo is just a slice of a truly unique specialty garden.
is one of the crown jewels of the Oregon State Park System. It's so popular we weren't able to get a site at the campground which is why we ended up staying in Silverton, which is only about 15 miles away. We did drive through the campground though and thought it looked like a nice place to stay, there were several very long and private sites that we would enjoy.
The most popular hike is the Trail of Ten Falls. It's a loop, about eight miles long, and dogs are not allowed on this trail, though they are allowed on other trails in the park. We chose to hike the falls trail early on a week day hoping to miss the bulk of the crowds. We parked near the Silver Falls Lodge and hiked the loop counter clockwise, getting the two mile section next to the road over with first.
|It was a brisk 42 degrees when we started the hike and the forest was foggy and drippy from the recent rains.|
|The sun rises over North Falls.|
|Lush sun dappled forest along North Fork Silver Creek.|
|You can walk behind several of the falls. Here you can see a couple of people behind Middle North Falls.|
|Behind the falls.|
|Lower South Falls.|
|Behind the veil of Lower South Falls.|
For our last hike in the area we returned to Silver Falls State Park and hiked the eight mile Buck Mountain Loop. The entire loop traverses dense forest, but as the trail gently climbs the forest opens up, and the peaceful green solitude was refreshing after the thick crowds on portions of the falls trail.
|The trail was a little muddy from recent rains but the lack of crowds was refreshing.|
|Bright orange fungus really stands out among all the green!|
That wraps up the last week and a half...onward to Eugene for a few days!