Saturday (Mar 21, 2020) was a glorious Spring Day, what a day to go to the park! Spring Equinox was 2 days earlier—the earliest it has been in 124 years, according to Farmers Almanac https://www.farmersalmanac.com/spring-equinox-first-day-spring
One of my favorite things is to explore different local parks. It's a one-day vacation, without as much packing/unpacking, preparing, adjusting/adapting, and travel. Each community has its own city parks you can generally find online at their Parks and Rec site, or with an online search, such as “city parks in . . . “, and don’t forget county parks . . .
Note: keep a roll of TP and a container of disinfectant wipes in your car for using public restrooms.
Here are some great family parks I've visited in the last few months:
Farragut Park, Portland--14 acres
The main entrance is at the corner of N Kerby Ave and Farragut St. The park has nice paved paths, mostly level, though a little rough from weather in some spots. Nice playground, and swings. Splash area, picnic tables (at least one accessible; most could be reached over flat ground), fenced basketball court, fenced baseball diamond with team benches and fan bleachers & drinking fountain, all make this a family friendly place. Plenty of trees that have been there a long time offer shade. Kids that love big hills will be delighted to play there, and those that love watching trains can see them from behind the fence. Parking is along the streets. If you come from the bus, not all the curbs in the neighborhood are ramped. Restrooms are reported accessible, but they were still closed for the season the day I went.
For more info, see https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&PropertyID=119
Blue Lake Regional Park, Fairview, OR—101 acres
This park offers so much it can leave you breathless! Various events and kid activities happen through the summer, including natural gardening. The lake has a swimming beach (children under 5 play in the splash area), boating (rent paddle boats, rowboats, and canoes between Memorial Day and Labor Day), accessible fishing (no license if under 12), and the park also has disc golf, volley ball, softball, basketball, soccer, horseshoes. First come picnic tables, and reservable covered group picnic places, as well as accessible restrooms. Paved paths are pleasant, and the lake had clear water when we visited March 19. There’s a $5/day parking fee (you can get a $40/yr pass good for all the Metro parks--$30 for Seniors, $10 for disabled), but the third Thursday of the month parking is free. Dogs are not allowed but watch your step to avoid walking in duck & goose poop. For more info, see https://www.oregonmetro.gov/parks/blue-lake-regional-park
Commonwealth Lake Park, Tualatin Hills Park & Rec District, Beaverton—20-30 acres
Such a serene, scenic park when we visited Presidents’ Day 2020. Much of the soccer area was still soggy from winter rains, but the paved path that encircles the lake was great, along with benches and picnic tables. There are very nice accessible fishing piers (lake is stocked with trout, other species), and a playground. It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood. We only saw very limited street parking, and port-a-potties (one looked large enough for wheelchairs). Access from SW Butner Rd, SW Huntington Ave, or SW Foothill Dr. Address: SW Foothill & SW Huntington, or, SW Butner Rd & SW Huntington Ave. More info at http://www.thprd.org/parks-and-trails/detail/commonwealth-lake-park and https://www.google.com/maps/place/Commonwealth+Lake+Parkfirstname.lastname@example.org,-122.8073992,18z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x54950ecc04211c9b:0xca507fa9c19fc5e8!8m2!3d45.5123943!4d-122.8051644
Lacamas Lake & Lacamas Park, Camas WA--Lacamas Park 312 acres, Heritage Park 5 acres
It’s a little tricky to get to Lacamas Lake (Heritage Park) and Lacamas Park, Camas WA. From Portland, take Hwy 14 east from either I-5 or I-205 (about 11-12 miles from I-5), then exit 12 for NW 6th Ave, turn left onto Division Street, right turn onto NE 17th Ave, and left onto NE Everett St, and follow that to Lacamas Park (which includes the not-so-very-round Round Lake, an extension of Lacamas Lake). If you want to go to Lacamas Lake, just south of Lacamas Park turn west onto NW Lake Rd, and it’s not far, on the right. The sign says Heritage Park.
Lacamas Park is cool and shady in the picnic/playground/restroom area. Some of the picnic areas have grills, charcoal disposal is close by, and the site below says there’s a non-reservable picnic shelter with water and electricity. There are trails, part of which are wheelchair friendly (paved in the picnic area, packed gravel beyond, and further beyond there are some hills that would require a helper for a manual wheelchair). If you want to combine family fun and education, they have some really great informative signs about the water cycle and so forth. The park offers fishing, and perhaps a disabled person could fish off the bridge to the left as you enter the park. Much is changing as of 2020, and this site is not quite up to date, but still useful: https://clark.wa.gov/public-works/lacamas-regional-park
Heritage Park on Lacamas Lake has a boat ramp and docks people use to launch kayaks and to fish from, as well as a playground and picnic tables. Behind the small lodge is another access to the lake that can be used for fishing. I recommend having a helper to access the lake. It includes the 3.5 mile Lacamas Heritage Trail of hardpacked dirt/gravel, good enough for strollers and rollers, mostly flat. People like to swim there, but watch for notices of blue green algae outbreaks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacamas_Lake
Port of Camas-Washougal, Marina Park, Washougal Waterfront Park & Trail, Washington
Five miles east of Portland, on the Washington side (just off Hwy 14) is a beautiful new park (or series of parks) with paved path, picnic tables & benches, accessible picnic tables under a shelter, excellent view of Mt. Hood and scenic sunsets. The playground is a short walk from the picnic area and includes a Sasquatch, xylophone, drums, and other natural ways to play. Access to the Columbia River for boating and fishing. There’s a ramp down to the fishing dock, but it is very steep and long. There are informational/educational signs, including about the solar powered accessible restroom. Right next to the Washougal Waterfront Park is the Marina Park and Parker’s Landing Historical Park where the city of Camas hosts great events, such as all-day 4th of July, Christmas ships viewing, etc. You can sign up for news. https://portcw.com/ see also https://portcw.com/parks-trails/
Captain William Clark Park, Washougal, WA—85/93 acres along the Columbia River
Just down the road from Port of Camas-Washougal is the Capt. Wm Clark Park, off Hwy 14. The Corps of Discover stopped there 6 days in 1806. There are replicas of their canoes/dugouts as well as canoe and swimming access, reservable covered picnic areas beside individual picnic tables, grills, volleyball standards, accessible restrooms, trails (some paved, some packed gravel ok for wheelchairs). The Lewis & Clark Heritage trail runs along that way, but is not accessible. The goal is to connect the trails all along the Columbia . . . presently the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail (aka The Columbia River Dike Trail) that goes from Steamboat Landing to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge—3 miles. See also https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/captain-william-clark-regional-park-cottonwood-beach
Vancouver Waterfront Park, WA--32 acre urban development with 7.3 acres of park
Vancouver, WA is developing its waterfront area into quite a lovely, (mostly so far) accessible walk along the river: A popular pet walk, friendly and family meeting and playing place, eating place, learning place, living and working place, and delight to the senses and soul. There are parking lots near, and street parking, but parking costs between 7am and 6pm. https://thewaterfrontvancouverusa.com/
Google says that you can walk from Waterfront Park to join Columbia River Renaissance Trail via Columbia Way in 15 minutes (.7 miles). The Renaissance Trail paves the way between Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver (the Washington Vancouver) to Wintler Park 5 miles east. Find out more about wonders of that nature at https://www.cityofvancouver.us/parksrec/page/columbia-river-renaissance-trail-5-miles
Vancouver Lake Regional Park, WA--190 acres, 35 developed
As with most recreational areas, there is a fee "to park" in the park (you can walk or bike in for free--this park is about 6 miles from downtown). The fees here are not hefty ($3/car), but if you go often, it's worth investing the $30 for an annual pass that is good for 4 regional parks. You can pay with cash or card. This and Frenchman's Bar used to be free in the off-season, but now the fee is year round. This park has wide expanses of grass between the parking and lake, lots of room for kids to run. Make sure they don't run into the water when there's an algae outbreak. It's still a pleasant place to recreate for the day, picnic tables, grills, sand volleyball, beside what you bring for yourself. The playgrounds are far from the water, but near the group picnic shelters and one of the restrooms, so if your kids can't resist getting into what they can see so beautifully before them, you can keep out of sight of the water. Those that can enjoy the views without dipping, needn't be concerned. https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/vancouver-lake-regional-park
Frenchman's Bar Regional Park--120 acres
You can walk, bike, ride horses on a nice 3 mile paved trail between Vancouver Lake and Frenchman's Bar, or, you can drive 2.6 miles by car.
3 miles or less from Vancouver Lake Regional Park, is Frenchman's Bar Regional Park. It offers picnicking, trails, 8 reservable sand volleyball courts, 2 reservable group picnic shelters & 2 playgrounds, as well as fishing. Swimming is not recommended because of swift currents and a steep drop-off. No personal watercraft are allowed, but you can watch the big ships go by. https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/frenchmans-bar-regional-park
Lewisville Regional Park--159 acres along the East Fork of the Lewis River, Battle Ground, WA
"The park was built starting in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) recreational center project. The architecture and overall design of the park is intentionally rustic, a common idiom promoted by federal land management agencies in the early part of the 20th century. Lewisville park is the oldest in the county park system and is one of the most significant and lasting examples of the WPA in Clark County." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewisville_Park
A very family and group oriented park. I recommend scoping it out to reserve the site that best fits your family or group. These few pictures can't tell the half of the treasures there. Wend your way through the park on wide, easy trails--most packed gravel, but some paved in the main area. Picnic spots for shade or sunshine, small or large family, many with faucets, grills, charcoal disposal, etc. Beach access for swimming (at your own risk--rapids rise rapidly from calmer waters), fenced tennis/basketball court, a more formal baseball diamond, but other fields could accommodate baseball, soccer, or other netted sports, with your own equipment. Horseshoes and fishing. Of course the restrooms were closed for COVID-19 when we were last there, so I couldn't show what they look like inside. Everyone was courteous and kept their distance as advised. The parking fees are nominal ($3/car, etc). You'll find cars parked just outside the entrance, as walkers/bike riders don't have to pay a parking fee. For more information, see https://www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/lewisville-regional-park
Horseshoe Lake Park, Woodland, WA—85 acres of lake, 6.5 acre park
A pretty family park (gorgeous fall colors), with playground, covered and uncovered picnic tables, swimming beach, no-wake boating, paved path, accessible (but a little scary) fishing dock (stocked fishing), skateboard park, restrooms/porta potties, and city events, such as an annual kids fishing derby in April, Easter egg hunt, RC boat racing. See also http://www.lewisriver.com/horseshoe.html and http://www.ci.woodland.wa.us/departments/parks/city.php
Marine Park and Louis Rasmussen Day Park, Port of Kalama, WA
Only about a half hour north of Portland, via I-5, is Kalama, WA. In fact, I-5 goes right through it. Between the freeway and the Columbia River are train tracks and industrial development. So you might drive by, never guessing what a treasure hugs the Columbia there. You might happen to notice McMenamin's Lodge and Restaurant (tasty food, but a burger is $15; great staff). It's in a choice spot. "The Port of Kalama offers stellar riverfront recreational facilities, including walking and biking paths, playgrounds, covered picnic shelters and the tallest totem pole in the Pacific Northwest! The Port operates a 222-slip marina, and its public beaches are a southwest Washington destination for swimming, windsurfing, fishing and relaxing." There's an amphitheater as well as tennis, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, and benches facing the river and the sunset. The group picnic shelters are first come first serve, but you can call to put a group event on the calendar. https://portofkalama.com/recreation/
Lake Sacajawea Park, Longview WA—67 acres
Very picturesque park with playground, packed gravel trails (ok for wheelchairs), kayaking/canoeing, really nice accessible fishing piers (warm water), picnic tables and benches, bridges, gardens, Solar System Walk, arboretum, Japanese Gardens, wildlife, city events, such as kids fishing derby, Concerts at the Lake (summer evenings), 4th of July. Nice quiet neighborhood, except the end where the hospital parking tends to overflow into the park area. The restrooms needed attention when we were there Nov 2019. See also https://www.mylongview.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Lake-Sacajawea-12 as well as https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/locations/lowland-lakes/lake-sacajawea and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Sacajawea_(Longview,_Washington)
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.