ONE OF THE BIGGEST perks of living in Portland is that we're not far from some of the most awe-inspiring wilderness in the country. And we're now officially in prime camping season, so take a few days for yourself and get out there. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
Among the closest legitimate camping spots to downtown Portland is L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, 30-some miles west of the city in Washington County. Backpacking campers should head to the Brooke Creek hike-in camp, where there are 23 primitive campsites. For those who don't feel like roughing it overnight, there are about 90 other campsites that have full hookups and nicer bathrooms, along with 15 year-round cabins in the 1,800-acre park. Take advantage of the miles of trails, or play disc golf on the 18-hole course, if you're into that kind of thing.
Oxbow Regional Park
A good option for the non-partying camper: Booze and "other intoxicants" are not allowed, and neither is your dog. But other than that, it's a hell of park, sitting on banks of the beautiful Sandy River east of the city. There are 57 drive-up spots with picnic tables, fire pits, and grills, 10 RV sites, and two group camping spots that can fit up to 150 people. There's a boat ramp there, too, with some good fishing, or choose to stay dry on the 12 miles of trails.
Eagle Creek Campground
Established more than a century ago, Eagle Creek, about 40 miles east of the city, was the first developed campground in the National Forest System, and is known for its access to great hiking (check out the Eagle Creek Trail and the Historic Columbia Gorge Trail). They've got 17 drive-up campsites, no RV hookups, and a 20-foot trailer limit. Note: The campground isn't far from I-84, so it can get a little noisy.
Trillium Lake Campground
Trillium Lake, about 60 miles southeast of the city, is one of the most beautiful areas in the region. There are dozens of campsites for tents and RVs, with picnic tables, fire rings, and grills, with nearby toilets and drinking water available. There's an easy two-mile trail around the lake, and plenty of fish for fishin'.
Mt. Hood National Forest
There are a number of walk-in campsites all over Mt. Hood, but for an authentic wilderness experience, find a suitable spot of your own off a trail and rough it for a few days. There are a bunch of rules so you don't screw things up, so be sure to check out the Forest Service website (fs.usda.gov) before you go.