Wildwood Recreation Area: A Magical Escape Near Portland

Wildwood Recreation Area is an absolutely gorgeous place to explore outside the town of Welches at the base of Mt. Hood, just east of Portland, Gresham, and Sandy. It is easily accessible, with an entrance right on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway (Highway 26), and fully ADA-accessible trails, bridges, and boardwalks to welcome visitors of all ages and abilities.

Situated along the "Wild and Scenic" Salmon River, Wildwood encompasses 550 acres of old-growth Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, with spectacular diversity of other native plants, including vine maple, native willows, and huge sword ferns. The dense vegetation and sounds of gently flowing water create a magical atmosphere which also provides plenty of privacy between day-use sites.

Camping is not allowed, although there are lots of sites for grilling and chilling, including nice picnic tables, grills, and fire rings at each site, as well as several group shelters, outdoor picnic kitchens, athletic fields, volleyball and basketball courts. Flush toilets in heated bathrooms--ahh, the luxury!--and drinking water are also provided.

Our favorite parts of the site include:

  • The Cascade Streamwatch Trail, which is an accessible, 3/4-mile paved loop that features educational displays, beautiful views of the Salmon River, and even a fish viewing window below stream level where you can see young coho salmon in action.
  • The Wetlands Trail is another accessible, 3/4-mile loop trail with wide boardwalks that meander through the stunning wetlands and easy viewing of diverse species of birds including great blue heron, red-winged blackbirds, and different species of raptors--bring binoculars if you have them for even better views! Beautiful field journal nature displays are and interesting addition.
  • If you’re looking for a more challenging workout, hike the Boulder Ridge Trail just past the Wetlands Trail. It goes for 4.7-miles up the steep slopes of Huckleberry Mountain into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
  • If you want to cool off--or you’re just seeking an invigorating "polar plunge"--you can swim in the incredibly clear waters of the Salmon River, or wade in and try your luck with fishing.
  • The Sandy Ridge Trail offers some of the best downhill mountain biking in the Pacific Northwest. Bikes are allowed on all trails except on the Wetland Boardwalk.

Although Wildwood is just off Highway 26, you can't hear traffic because of the thick vegetation and distance from the highway. Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest mountain, is just up the road, and an inspiring site when you emerge from the woods. And Mount Hood National Forest is just up the road, too, with countless other recreational activities, including some of the best hiking anywhere, horseback riding, fishing, camping, backpacking, downhill and cross-county skiing.

Wildwood is open from sunrise to sunset. There is a $5 day use fee for cars, payable when you enter. For reservations go to www.recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777.

DIRECTIONS:

  • From Portland: Travel 40 miles east on US Hwy 26.
  • Wildwood is located on the south side of Hwy 26 near mile marker 39.

Map of the site: https://flic.kr/p/MNz2oo

Address of the entrance: 

  • 65670 Mt Hood Hwy, Welches, OR 97067, USA
  • Latitute/Longitude: 45.35588, -121.98672

For more information, contact the Bureau of Land Management (BLM):

Video tour:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hJ6nlo504w

Region(s):
Central Oregon
Eastern Oregon
Greater Portland
The Gorge + Mt. Hood
Oregon Coast
Southern Oregon
Willamette Valley

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