Thursday, August 16, 2007

Champoeg State Park

Close to Portland, yet often forgotten, Champoeg State Park has much to offer in history, wildlife and natural areas. Picnic, camp, walk, bike, play frisbee golf, explore historical sites, birdwatch, fish, or paddle the Willamette River: you can do it all in or from the park.

Begin at the Visitor's Center, where you can purchase your $3 state park day pass. Pick up a map to get your bearings. Ask about any special activities that might be happening. Then head out into the park.

We enjoy the paved bike path that starts near the campground at a sign that says “Butteville General Store 2.4 miles.” The Historic Butteville Store, founded in 1863, is reputed to be the oldest operating store in Oregon. The store is the last commercial vestige of the once thriving community of Butteville. Nowdays, during the summer, you can stop in for a cool drink and a snack, or just take a break on the porch.

Some other historical sites spread throughout the park include a plaque marking the Kitty Newell gravesite, pillars marking the location of the streets of the old Champoeg townsite, the Pioneer Mother's Cabin and Museum, and the Champoeg Memorial Building and surrounding area.

In additional to the historically significant sites here, many birds make this park home, including the struggling western bluebird. Osprey can be seen and heard near the river--a dock accessed near the group camping areas provides a great view of the water.

To get there from I-5, take Exit 278 and head west. Follow the signs (that sometimes only indicate a state park). For a park brochure, including a small map of the park, click here.

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