After your visit to the Columbia River Gorge, the town of Troutdale is an excellent place to decompress before you re-enter the bustling streets of Portland, to the west. Troutdale, with 16,000 people, provides a variety of attractions, shopping, art galleries, antique shops, wine shops and excellent restaurants to please Gorge travelers. Judging by the four upscale blocks on or near the Historic Columbia River Highway that comprise the bustling downtown shopping area, the town seems to be fulfilling its role as the Gorge’s starting or finishing point. The many fine shops here include the Troutdale General Store with an ice cream parlor & confectionery and all manner of seasonal gifts and knick-knacks for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter and other holidays. Try the breakfast in their small café and admire owner Terry Smoke’s amazing collection of antiques and memorabilia displayed everywhere around the store.
Avid shoppers will also enjoy the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlet Mall, just one minute off Highway 84 that offers 45 brand name outlet stores. Foodies will celebrate Troutdale’s eclectic offerings. Visit the Shaken Martini Lounge for a cocktail and Ye Olde Pub for a good breakfast or lunch. Ristorante di Pompello offers a wide and outstanding array of classic Italian (and American) food and wine at great prices. This bustling restaurant is a great place to meet the locals.
For the ultimate comfort food experience, a visit to Tad’s Chicken’n Dumplins is an absolute must. Even the lodge-style setting, on a riverbank, is down home and the servers will treat you like family. Try the signature dish, stewed chicken with cannon ball sized dumplings and sides of green beans and salads. It will be better than your grandma’s (seriously). With three fine museums located within 400 yards of each other, Troutdale has preserved its pioneer history dating back to the 1850s. Harlow House Museum is a beautifully restored turn-of-the-century home that belonged to the second generation of Troutdale’s founding family, the Harlows. Town founder, Captain John Harlow, named Troutdale after some fishponds he built near a cliff. Then, when a railroad was built through town, he talked the rail company (now Union Pacific) into placing a depot here and it was named Troutdale. The museum displays household goods from the Harlows and other artifacts donated by residents. Next door, the Barn Museum gives an insight into early rural life with farm equipment murals, a buggy, photographs and other bits and pieces.
A quarter mile along East Columbia River Highway, The Rail Depot Museum, centered on the Union Pacific Railway’s original terminal, shows the history of the railroad and features a large yellow caboose donated by Union Pacific.
For nature lovers, the Dabney State Recreation area has a swimming area, boat ramp and picnic shelters. The Lewis and Clark State Recreation area has picnic tables under shady trees, a botanical walk and fishing in the nearby Sandy River. The Bird Blind is set in a large tract of the Department of Forestry’s Sandy River Delta where several dozen species of birds can be observed. For those heading east, Troutdale is the portal to the Columbia Gorge and offers some gorgeous scenic drives along the old Historic Columbia River Highway to get you in the “Gorge mood.” Your first stop along this winding road, constructed in 1913, is the Portland Women’s Forum State Park, with superb panoramas of the Gorge. Vista House at Crown Point, a visitor center perched on basalt cliffs 693 feet above the Columbia River, offers a spectacular 30-mile view (don’t forget your camera) of the Gorge. Vista House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Be warned: if high winds are prevailing, walking can be almost impossible here. Bundle up.
Further along the Historic Highway, Bridal Veil State Park offers a 10-minute walk from a parking lot alongside the highway through forest trails to the base of some pretty waterfalls bearing the same name. Bridal Veil has its own Post Office and brides from around the world mail their invitations to it to have the cancel stamp of Bridal Veil placed on their envelopes. Other waterfalls along the Historic Highway are Wahkeena and Multnomah Falls, both magnificent. With its 620-ft. cascade, Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s top natural attraction, the second highest year-round waterfall in the U.S. and the subject of many a tourist photo and postcard. Not far away, the 1925 Multnomah Falls Lodge, built of natural stone, is also worth a visit. Plenty of hikes start in this area, some to other waterfalls including Horsetail Falls, Triple Falls and Elowah Falls.
Troutdale hosts many not-to-miss events including the Farmer’s and Artist’s Market every Saturday year-round, SummerFest in July, a 1st Friday Artwalk, a Fall Foliage Studio Tour and a Holiday Fest and Tree Lighting in December.
Whether embarking on a Gorge trip, or returning, you’ll find Troutdale an ideal spot to start or finish your trip.
-- Photo credit: West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce
-- Article By Roy Stevenson
Some of the many local attractions include:
Brand name clothing and housewares at factory direct prices.
1900 farm home, railroad artifacts. 503-669-7473.
Historic Site, winery, brewery, distillery, theater, gardens, golf, dining and lodging.
- I-84 Exit 17