Early summer is a great time for hiking, and what better place to hit the trails than the Willamette Valley? With lush forests, mild temperatures and beautiful waterways, this is a prime area for getting back in touch with nature.

Three Salem hikes

Easy: Willamette Mission State Park offers many trails of varying difficulty, but for the most part they all are fairly flat and easy to walk. Of particular interest is the self-guided educational trail that spans around 2.5 miles. This is an outdoor haven, also offering horse and bike trails, a butterfly garden, volleyball courts and picnic areas. Info: www.oregonstateparks.com

Medium: Cascadia State Park, located 14 miles east of Sweet Home on Highway 20 offers a nice one-mile hike on the Soda Creek Falls Trail, which runs along Soda Creek. It culminates with a somewhat steep ascent to Lower Soda Creek Falls. Info: oregonstateparks.com

Hard: Breitenbush Hot Springs is a retreat and conference facility that offers natural hot springs, a lodge, cabins, and several hiking trails that range in difficulty level. This is an excellent choice for those looking for harder hikes, because of the soothing hot springs that can greet you when you are done with your climb. Info: breitenbush.com

Day use fees may apply and reservations may be needed. Visit Web sites and make arrangements before attempting these hikes.


Quiz! How can you save the environment, improve your health and give your bank account a boost all at the same time? Take up cycling. Salem boasts several locally owned and super-friendly bike shops. They can get you the gear you need to hit the streets and start saving money and slimming down.

Bike Support

Been awhile since you graced the seat of a ten-speed? Nervous about hand brakes? Just want a riding buddy? That’s where the Salem Bicycle Club comes in. They offer weekly group rides (visit www.salembicycleclub.com for a complete listing) as well as special events and membership meetings. Right now they are preparing for their Watermelon Ride, which starts and ends at the Polk County Fairgrounds in Rickreall. Riders can choose the length of their ride, with the shortest one being 50 miles and the longest 200. Pre-register by June 14. For information visit their Web site.

Just wanna ride alone? Jason Franz, owner of Fall Line, a Silverton bike shop, recommends Silver Creek Falls. “There’s a whole trail system out there for biking,” he says. “Plus some offroad trails.” Not to mention lovely scenery.


What better way to toast the summer solstice than a picnic? So pack your tablecloth and basket, grab your favorite beverages, and shuffle your brood out the door for some fresh air. Break out the sun block, thump a good watermelon, and enjoy. Here are two great parks that offer excellent picnic facilities.

Coolidge-McClaine Park

This peaceful park is nestled on Silver Creek just a few blocks from downtown Silverton. Bringing children? The park features a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, and the nearby creek for wetting little toes and chasing crawdads.

Rent the huge covered picnic area and host a party or make it a romantic date night and stroll along the creek to the aptly named Salamander Island.

To find this park, head to downtown Silverton, turn onto Main Street and make a quick turn onto Coolidge Street.

Scotts Mills City Park

Located just a few miles off of Highway 213 on the road from Silverton to Oregon City is another fine picnic haven. About 30 minutes from Salem, this gem has one of the prettiest little waterfalls and natural swimming pools around. Just take 213 northeast from Silverton, make the Scotts Mills turnoff about five miles out (right), head into downtown Scotts Mills, take a right on Crooked Finger Road, and the second driveway on the left.
The park has been there for years, known mainly to locals. The swimming area is clean, cool, and a joy to behold. It is not without peril, of course, as underwater rocks and above-water Coronas don’t mix very well. A simple rule is this: If you don’t know what is underneath the surface, don’t dive.

There are several picnic tables for public use. As summer comes full bore, the place will be ripe with laughter, music, and the smell of barbecue.

Five quick tips for your outdoor eating adventure

1. Invest in a good-sized, sturdy basket. And make it a rule: food only! No more squashed sandwiches or spilled silverware. Consider a cooler for beverages, and a simple plastic caddy for dishes and utensils. It will keep everything organized and give you the freedom to pack sturdy, reusable dishes rather than disposables.

2. Tableclothes rule! And so do picnic tables. Forget the romantic images of couples sitting serenely in the grass on a blanket. The reality is it’s not comfortable and it invites pests. Set yourself up at a table instead, but don’t forget a covering of some kind — a twin-size sheet works nicely if you don’t have a tablecloth.

3. Never underestimate the importance of salt and pepper. Consider purchasing an extra set and tucking it into your basket so you never find yourself without well-seasoned corn-on-the-cob.

4. Pack plenty of water. You never know what kind of facilities that you will be faced with. Even if there was running water the last time you were there, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be working this time. And don’t drink the water.

5. Recycle, recycle, recycle. Just because there are garbage facilities, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Instead, pack out what you packed in and dispose of it (or reuse it) at home. Kudos to the parks that already have recycling facilities set up.


There are several places to enjoy fishing and swimming in the Salem area. Some favorites include:

Cascade Gateway Park

This little treasure-in-the-rough is located just behind the freeway on Turner Road. Complete with a fish-stocked pond, playground and boat slide, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon picnicking and canoeing. Who knows, you might even catch dinner. Info: City of Salem

Sarah Helmick State Park

Just outside of Monmouth, this little park is perfect for spending the day watching the water flow by or possibly fishing in the Luckiamute River. There are also picnic tables and nature trails in case you aren’t getting any bites. Info: oregonstateparks.com

North Santiam State Park

This little park boasts some of the best steelhead fishing around. They also provide picnic tables and day-use facilities. And if you don’t hook the big one, console yourself with a walk in stunning old growth forest. This park is located off of Highway 22. Info: oregonstateparks.com

Mongold/Detroit Lake

For an afternoon of swimming or boating, we would be remiss not to mention this Willamette Valley staple. Located on Highway 22, this lake and campground is noted for being a popular fishing and swimming destination. But if you plan on spending more than the afternoon, be sure to book well in advance. Info: oregonstateparks.com.

Foster Lake

Sweet Home is proud to be the sweet home of Foster Lake. Surrounded by camping sites and close to Green Peter Dam, this lake is a recreational haven for swimmers, fishers and boaters – not to mention sunbathers. Foster Lake is located four miles east of Sweet Home. Info: sweethomeoregon.org


Farmers’ Markets

Independence Farmers’ Market

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

April to mid-November 

Sterling Bank South, 302 Main St.

(503) 838-5424

Polk County Farmers’ Market

Sundays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

May to mid-November 

Rickreall Grange Hall

280 Hwy 99W

(503) 838-5424

Salem Public Market

Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Year-round, heated indoor market

1240 Rural Ave. SE

(503) 876-2274 

Salem Saturday Market

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

May to October 

Summer St & Marion St NE

Green State Parking Lot

(503) 585-8264

Salem Saturday Market on Wednesday

Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

May to October 

Chemeketa St NE between Commercial & High St.   

(503) 585-8264

Silverton Farmers’ Market

Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

May to mid-October 

Town Square Park, Main & Fiske

Produce and Farm Stands

Aspinwall’s Nursery & Produce

5152 Salem-Dallas Hwy

(503) 362-1363

Ice cream, fresh produce, live plants

Bauman Farms

12989 Howell Prairie Rd. NE, Gervais

(503) 792-3524

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs, flowers and specialty foods,gift shop, picnic and play areas; ready pick

Blueberry Corners

39971 Sandner Dr., Scio

(503) 769-7669

Blue Heron Farm

7496 River Road S, Salem

(503) 838-0495

Raspberries & marionberries; U-pick & ready pick

Brammeier Farms (“Blueberry Bob’s”)

6014 Hazel Green Rd. NE, Salem

(503) 390-5535

Blueberries & apples; U-pick, ready pick, pick to order

Briggs Family Blueberry Patch

5374 Greenlea Way SE, Salem

(503) 364-8222


Country Pastry & Nursery

3187 Orchard Heights Rd. NW, Salem

(503) 581-8507

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs, flowers and hanging baskets; U-pick, ready pick and pick to order

Daum’s Produce Farm

8801 Wallace Rd. NW, Salem

(503) 362-7246

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs, flowers and hanging baskets; U-pick, ready pick and pick to order

Ed Harris Farms/Veals

7816 Lakeside Dr. NE, Salem

(503) 393-6970

Seasonal vegetables; ready pick

EZ Orchards

5504 Hazel Green Rd. NE, Salem

(503) 393-1506

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs, flowers and specialty foods

Gift shop & picnic area; ready pick

Fir Point Farms

14601 Arndt Rd, Aurora

(503) 678-2455

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs and flowers,
gift shop, green house, farm trails, picnic and play areas; U-pick & ready pick

French Prairie Gardens

17673 French Prairie Rd,

St. Paul

(503) 633-8445

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables herbs and flowers; ready pick

Fresh To You – Produce/Garden Center

Stayton – Scio Rd. ½ mile south of Stayton

(503) 769-9682

Seasonal fruits, berries, vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers; ready pick

Haury Farms

1660 Hampden Lane NE, Salem

(503) 364-2388

Marionberries; U-pick

J&D Apples

5650 Lardon Rd. NE, Salem

Apples, pears, grapes; U-pick & ready pick

Jones Farm Produce

10325 River Rd. N, Salem

(503) 393-9451

Seasonal fruits, berries and vegetables; ready pick

Olson Peaches/Stuart Olson Farms

65925 Joseph Street SE, Salem

(503) 362-5942

Seasonal fruit, berries and vegetables; U-pick, ready pick and pick to order.

Perryhill Farm

5775 Perrydale Rd., Dallas

(503) 623-4539

Seasonal fruit and berries; U-pick

Queener Orchards

40385 Queener Dr. SE, Scio

(503) 769-3630

Seasonal fruits, berries and specialty foods; U-pick & ready pick.

Rick Johnson Farm

1585 Clear Lake Rd., Keizer

(503) 393-0859

Seasonal fruits, berries; ready pick

Raspberries by Luci

7986 Sunnyside Road SE, Salem

(503) 364-6360


Riverdale Acres

4199 Riverdale Rd. S, Salem

Seasonal fruits & berries; U-pick, ready pick, pick to order

Schlechter Farms

10143 86th Ave NE, Salem

(503) 792-3328

Seasonal vegetables; ready pick, pick to order

Schmerber Farms

3310 Perkins Street NE, Salem

(503) 393-8911

Blueberries; ready pick.