Thanks to Tony for this wonderful and detailed description of Sauvie Island. We couldn't have written it better ourselves.
Summer is a great time to explore Sauvie Island. The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area boasts more than 12,000 acres of land, so a variety of outdoor activities may be enjoyed. Much of the island that is not preserved for wildlife consists of family farms, many of which open their doors to the public for produce and special activities. Basically there is no shortage of family-friendly activities on the island and its proximity to Portland - 20 to 30 minutes - ensures limited "are we there yet?" moments in the car.
We picked strawberries at Kruger's this weekend. There was no shortage of strawberries when we arrived even though 1-ton of berries had already been sold that day! Kruger's provides the option of taking a FREE tractor-driven hayride out to its strawberry fields. They are hosting a special Berry Jam with music and more on Father's Day weekend and they begin their outdoor Thursday night concert series ($5 per car) on July 6th.
Paddling: The obvious padding idea is floating on either Multnomah Channel or the Columbia River - the waters which border the island. However both of those options have lots of boat traffic - including barges and container ships on the Columbia - so I only recommend them for experienced paddlers. A great family paddling option is Sturgeon Lake.
Sturgeon Lake is located on the northern end of the island. It also connects with Steelman Lake and Mud Lake, so you can easily spend all day exploring on the water if you would like to. Right now the water is high so there is no need to worry about tides but when the water lowers later in the summer, try to avoid low tide since you can find yourself stranded in the mud flats near shore. Motor boats are allowed on the lake but are very rare encounters - speeds are low and wakes are minimal.
On a clear day you can enjoy views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens on the lake. Seeing fish jump, herons, and falcons is common. There is no significant current on the lake but paddling on windy days is not recommended. Remember that every member of the family should always wear a PFD regardless of conditions.
Hiking: The good family hike on the island is the Oak Island Nature Trail. This is a 2.5-mile loop trail around the Oak Island peninsula. The trail is actually a mowed path through the tall grass. You can stick to the path or wander cross-country through the tall grass fields to a quiet spot on Sturgeon Lake or Steelman Lake - make sure you remember how to get back onto the main path. We haven't been on this trail this year yet but saw a few cars at the trailhead this weekend, so it appears to be accessible.
Beaches: There are actual beaches for sunbathing, sand play, and swimming. The main beach area, Walton Beach, is accessed via Reeder Road and is about 9 miles from the Sauvie Island Bridge. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty and the shore line often has sudden drop-offs - 3 feet of water becomes 9 feet or more within a couple of steps. Watch your kids very closely and consider having them wear a PFD when they are in or near the water.
Biking: The most popular ride is a 12-mile loop around the lower end of the island - Sauvie Island Road to Reeder Road to Gillihan Loop Road however any mix of routes can be created by consulting a local map. Bikes need to share the road with cars and shoulders aren't especially wide on the island. Although most drivers in the area expect to encounter bicyclists, be cautious, courteous, and prepared when riding on the roads - speed limits in the area are 30 - 45 mph.
Getting there: From Portland, take route 30 toward St. Helens. Take the Sauvie Island Bridge onto the island and go North on Sauvie Island Rd. Kruger's will be 1 1/2 miles ahead on the right.
To get to Sturgeon Lake or the Nature Hike, continue North on Sauvie Island Road and take a right onto Reeder Road.
Follow Reeder Road and, after a mile or so, take the left fork onto Oak Island Road. The road will eventually become gravel follow it to the junction at Webster Pond.
To access the Hike continue straight at the junction to the end of the road. To access Sturgeon Lake, take a right at the junction and go around Webster Pond - the road will dead end at the launch for Sturgeon Lake. Don't be afraid to consult a map.
Things to Remember:
- There are no gas stations on the island. You can fuel up in Linnton on the way to the island.
- If you are accessing any of the Wildlife Areas you will need a parking permit. These are available at the convenience store just North of the bridge when you get on the island ($3.50 per day or $11 for the calendar year).
- Food options on the island are limited. There are no real grocery stores, packing snacks and a lunch is recommended.
- Bathrooms are limited. There are port-a-potties in the wildlife areas - they are cleaned weekly. Kruger's has bathroom facilities open to the public.