Looking for a leisurely back road drive out of Portland? When the weather clears, sometimes there is just nothing better than a leisurely road trip to explore and allow yourself time to stop at places you might normally drive past. The meandering roads of the northern Willamette Valley are fun to discover and offer so many choices. It can be hard to choose whether to turn right or left when both options are good…
From I-205, exit at 10th Street in West Linn and head south into the old town. If you need a coffee for your trip, stop by Lark Cafe coffee shop. The charming old town of West Linn is worth getting out for a walk and exploring. Head downhill and you’ll find Willamette River Park where you can walk down right to the river’s edge, or just enjoy the view over the placid river.
Rather than head back into town, head west onto Pete’s Mountain Rd. It takes you on a nice winding trip through large estates, vineyards, and white fenced fields covering the rolling hills. The road becomes Schaeffer Road and eventually comes to an end at a T – take a left onto Stafford Rd. heading south towards Wilsonville. You’ll soon skirt the edges of the city and past the high school, but avoid the temptation to get back onto the freeway, as the best is yet to come. Stay straight under the freeway and stay on Wilsonville Road. You’ll eventually be out of the city again and into the countryside following the curves of the Willamette River just out of sight.
Vineyards and farms line the road with little traffic. At Parrett Mountain, there is a small park, part of the Willamette Greenway project. Not a manicured park, it is a still a nice spot to let the dog out for a run, or get out and stretch your legs. There is a short trail that takes you to the edge of the Willamette where you can watch the calm waters of the river.
Continue on westward where you’ll eventually end up at another T where the road intersects with the St. Paul Highway (Hwy 219). If you head right, you’ll head towards Newberg where you can continue on into areas filled with wine tastings found around Dundee. If you head left, you’ll head towards Salem. I’d recommend heading south towards Salem. You’ll soon be able to take a left towards Champoeg State Park where you’ll be heading east following the other side of the river. Stop at Champoeg museum or the Newell House museum. Driving through Butteville and on back towards I-5. Here you can hop on the freeway back towards Portland, or continue on under the bridge to the east side of the freeway and explore the Aurora Colony, Fir Point Farms, Canby, or more. I continued on into Salem, which is such a history-rich city with a beautiful waterfront and filled with independently owned businesses that are a joy to explore. More on my visit to Salem in another post.
See more of visiting Salem
See more of visiting the Aurora Colony
See more visiting Butteville area