Enjoy the outdoors in a variety of ways

A sunny day at the Bayou Golf Course.   <B>Photo by Reid Oliver</b>
A sunny day at the Bayou Golf Course. Photo by Reid Oliver

While great food, wine and attractions are all part of what makes the Yamhill Valley great, its beautiful scenery and rural charm is at the heart of what makes the region so memorable. And there are plenty of ways to enjoy it.

On the pavement

McMinnville is a great homebase for cycling enthusiasts, and is about to become even more popular. More than 2,000 cyclists will embark on rides from the Linfield College campus this July when Cycle Oregon brings its annual Weekend Ride to the city.

Tommy’s Bicycle Shop on Third Street in McMinnville can provide all the information you need to prepare for a hearty ride. You can find 11 suggested ride routes at www.tommysbicycle.net, varying in distance from 7.5 to 69 miles. Two excellent rides, the Youngberg Hill (13.6 miles) and Muddy Valley (26.1 miles) loops, will take you through farms and grassland on country roads. Slight variations will bring you to wineries and steep climbs through vineyards. While a few of the listed rides include heavily traveled highways, they are used sparingly and then only to connect to quieter roads.

On the line

The Yamhill River is one of the small number of rivers in Oregon stocked with trout. “This is one of the few places we have in the Willamette Valley where people have a chance to catch some nice hatchery fish in a free-flowing river,” said Tom Murtagh, fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There’s also a number of country ponds nearby to give anglers their fix. Huddleston Pond in Willamina and Sheridan Pond are stocked each May with hundreds of rainbow trout. Huddleston also is a habitat for bass and bluegill.

On the water

The Chehalem Paddle Launch will open June 14 of this year for kayak and canoe enthusiasts to enjoy a relaxing time on the river between wine tasting and meals. For more information, visit www.cprdnewberg.org/chehalempaddlelaunch or call 503-209-2222.

The lower Yamhill River, a tributary of the Willamette, has several parks offering start and stop points for a sunny float on this easygoing waterway. One suggestion is to launch at the Dayton Boat landing and paddle to the Yamhill Locks - takes under three hours.

Motorboaters can launch at one of the state premier boating facilities on the Willamette River, Roger’s Landing in Newberg, home of the incredibly popular Memorial Day Boat Races. Visit rogerslanding.com for more.

On the trail

When it’s time to get away, a good walk can be a perfect choice. If hiking appeals to you, consider these options in and near the Yamhill Valley:

Chehalem Heritage Trails – This trail system features access within the city of Newberg, around the Chehalem Golf Course and the city of Dundee. Distances vary from a quarter mile to nearly 3 miles on Dundee’s Pinot Noir Trail. For more information, visit the Chehalem Park & Recreation District.

Yamhill Loop – This is for the birds. Here’s a birdwatching-oriented guide to protected areas throughout both Yamhill and Polk counties. Click for details.

Looking for major challenges? It’s easy to take a day trip from the Yamhill Valley to some of the best hiking areas you could hope to find. Consider these three destinations.

Silver Falls State Park – Long considered one of Oregon’s best outdoor destinations, Silver Falls offers hiking variety among numerous waterfalls. More details.

McDonald Forest Trails – Oregon State University, renowned for its forestry program, maintains excellent hiking trails within this outdoor classroom. Click here for a detailed list.

Cascade Head – Going to the beach? Here are two popular trails north of Lincoln City that provide breathtaking ocean and coastal views. Beware: This is an uphill trail and not approprate for everyone. More details.

Yamhill Valley also offers some great bird watching for Audubon enthusiasts. Visit birdingoregon.info and click the Yamhill County outline for more trails and birding information.

On the links

The Bayou Golf Course is McMinnville’s only public course, offering a nine-hole regulation course (parring the par 4 second hole is a major accomplishment for any golfer) and nine-hole par 3 course. If you can get on, Michelbook Country Club is easy to walk and well manicured throughout the year.

In Newberg, Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, opened in 2005, has become a favority destination for golfers around the valley.

Also growing in popularity is another challenging 18-hole layout, Cross Creek Golf Course, about 20 miles south of McMinnville, between Salem and Willamina on Highway 22.

On the winds

For the best possible view of the valley, check out one of the air adventure options, including Vista Balloon Adventures (www.vistabaloon.com) and Konect Aviation helicopter rides (konect-aviation.com).

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