By the time my days off hit this week, I was getting stir-crazy. I hadn’t camped in two months (two months!) and didn’t feel like sleeping another hot night in my room. I put out the call: would anyone be interested in a quick and close bike overnight, somewhere near water? Chris answered, and we decided on Dodge Park, a campground owned by the Portland Water Bureau and on the Sandy River. Despite its proximity to Portland (only a 13 mile ride from the easternmost end of the MAX light rail), I had only been out there once before, almost exactly three years ago. This can be explained mostly by the fact that they only reopened the campground in 2012, after many decades of no camping. So what better time than now?
I left my house mid-afternoon on Tuesday July 7. Yeah, I should have gotten going earlier, but the nice thing about a quick overnight like this is I didn’t have to! (Of course, I dropped a hat on the way, causing a mile back-track, but whatevs.) I wedged my loaded bike on the loaded MAX train (rush hour, which is the real reason I should have gotten going earlier), and got to Gresham at 5 pm. It was mostly leisurely riding on fairly quiet and scenic roads (plus a section of the Springwater Corridor bike path) and I got to the park around 6:30.
A perfunctory check in with the camp host (no firewood to purchase because of a fire ban), camp set-up, dinner cooking. I saw a couple cycle campers pull up and pause for a few minutes, but they decided to get into Mount Hood National Forest that night. (I did warn them about the big hill ahead of them!) Chris arrived around 8 while I was exploring the Sandy and the Bull Run River (the source of Portland’s water supply, hence the park being owned by the water bureau). We decided to wade for a bit in the silty waters, which was cool but not frigid. The Sandy is a true glacial river with glacial silt, the silt giving it its name. A lovely river indeed, a river I don’t get to often enough.
It was a quiet night at the campground, as there were only a handful of other campers, but I can imagine the campground would be quite full on the weekends. We hit the hay maybe before 11. I didn’t have the best sleep, but I left the rain fly off, so I got to see some stars! Chris got up the earliest since he needed to be home by 11 am. I made a leisurely breakfast of blueberry pancakes and coffee and wandered back down to the rivers again before taking off around 9 am. Instead of riding just 13 miles to the MAX, I opted to “get some miles in” and ended up rambling all the way back to my house, a distance of 30 miles.
All in all, a nice little trip. I have my quibbles with Dodge Park: the sites are fairly expensive ($22) and are wide open with no breaks between campers. There’s no hiker/biker site. And you can’t have alcohol. But it is very nice to be close to the river, a nice cool mountain river that one can swim or wade in. While Oxbow Park is also on the Sandy, there are only a couple spots one can actually get into the river, and they are not near the campground. But at Dodge the river is right there, waiting for you. I’ll be back again sometime.