Fun-Filled U-Pick Day Trips from Portland
June 21, 2021
Summer is prime picking season for a variety of berries and fruits. If you are in Portland, why not check out some of these amazing farms and orchards. You’ll enjoy some amazing scenery, and if you don’t eat it all of your scrumptious loot right away, you’ll leave with some delicious produce!
Sauvie Island is just 10 miles north of downtown Portland and is a pretty sizable chunk of land that’s smack dab in the middle of the Willamette River and Columbia River confluence. This little piece of paradise is packed with fun ways to spend an afternoon (or even an entire day)! In addition to local farms selling berries, apples, and peaches, you might find beaches well suited to swimming, hiking trails to meander, and at the right time of year, pumpkin patches and Christmas tree farms. The island is also a local favorite for enthusiastic bird watchers, so be sure to bring your binoculars! Wildwood’s Office Coordinator recently hiked on the Wapato Lake loop trail and was lucky enough to spot a mated pair of barred owls and their adorable owlet!
Sauvie Island is home to dozens of small, local farms – many of which welcome the public onto their property every year for “U-Pick” fruit, and sometimes veggies too! 😊 Some of our favorites include Columbia Farms U-Pick and Bella Organic Farm. Make sure to check out their websites before your visit for updates on what is currently ripe and ready for picking.
Most farms have plenty of private parking available, but if you plan to visit any of the other fun places while on Sauvie Island, you’ll need to stop and purchase a parking permit. Currently, these are $10 for the day and can be purchased at the small road-side store, located just off the bridge once you enter onto the island.
Oregon City is a pleasant 30-minute drive from downtown Portland and is a great little escape for a day of exploring and berry picking! Apart from having several farms to choose from, you’ll also have a chance to explore one of the region’s historical centers. Oregon City, as you may already know, was the final destination for most settlers traveling on the Oregon Trail and was the first city to be incorporated in the state. While you are in town, make sure to check out the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and The McLoughlin House, the original home of John Mcloughlin, who helped found the town in 1829.
You should also set aside some time to check out and ride the Oregon City Municipal Elevator, which was constructed in 1915 to take passengers between the lower section of town, along the Willamette River, and the upper section behind it. If you do get a chance to ride, you’ll have traveled down (or up!) the only “vertical street” in North America, aptly named Elevator Street! There is a platform at the top of the elevator with a spectacular view of the Willamette River and downtown Oregon City below.
You have a few options to choose from for “U-Pick” fruit, all within short driving distance from downtown Oregon City. For all of the traditional berry varieties, we suggest you head over to Albeke Farms, which is just a short, scenic 15-minute drive from the center of town. For something a little different, we love Vancil-Polehn Farm. This family owned and operated farm typically opens a little later in the season and has plums, pears, and hazelnuts on the “U-Pick” menu. YUM!
Oregon Fruit Loop & the Hood River Valley
With a name like “the Oregon Fruit Loop”, this had to be on our list! If you have a full day to explore, hop on Interstate 84 headed east, through the Columbia River Gorge toward Hood River. This drive takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes when leaving from downtown Portland, but the scenery enroute is spectacular! If you’re not in too much of a hurry, take some time to meander along Highway 30, the historic roadway that parallels I-84 for much of the journey through the gorge. This will give you a chance to stop at a couple of amazing waterfalls along the way. Multnomah Falls is the highest waterfall in the area, but it can also be the most crowded. In case congestion is high, we recommend Latourell Falls instead. It’s gorgeous, and you won’t waste precious time waiting for a parking spot!
Once you’ve arrived in Hood River, you’ll want to begin heading south on Highway 35. This roadway leads to Mt. Hood, and the drive has some spectacular views of the mountain’s northern face (have your cameras ready!!). After about 20 minutes of driving, you’ll enter some of Oregon’s most precious agricultural land, affectionately known as Oregon’s Fruit Loop. This area produces over 30% of the nation’s winter pears, as well as a variety of apples, berries, peaches, and cherries. During the prime harvest months of June, July, and August, there are several local farms that offer “U-Pick” berries and fruits.
One of our top choices for “U-Pick” is the Gorge White House, which is easily accessible from the highway and is picture perfect. As the name implies, this orchard is centered around an old white house built in the Dutch Colonial Revival style in 1910 by a local farmer. The property itself is 30-acres and has tons of options for “U-Pick” fruit between May and October. You’ll find everything from strawberries and cherries, to peaches, pears, and apples. In addition to the fruit, plan to sample some of their house-made wines and ciders – and make sure to pair it with something yummy from the on-site food cart.
A little further down the road after departing the Gorge White House, you’ll find the famous Draper Girls fruit stand. This is one of our favorites! This little farm has “U-Pick” cherries, apples, pears, peaches, and a host of different berries throughout the seasons. They also have the most adorable little farm store that sells homemade jams, jellies, canned fruit, and some yummy sweets to take home with you. Both kids and adults will love feeding the local residents, a pack of very cute, spry goats.
Wherever you choose to “U-Pick” this summer, we hope you have a blast! We may be biased, but we think the fruit and berries in Oregon and its Northwestern region absolutely can’t be beat.