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Explore the River

99W Bridge to Schaumberg Bridge

This stretch of the Tualatin River is so lazy that you may wonder whether it’s moving at all, and you definitely won’t notice that you’re paddling upriver (which makes it perfect for beginning paddlers). Other than a few small piers and homes here and there, you’ll course through a verdant landscape of cottonwood, alder, and cedar. (Blue-and-white mile-marker signs along the river tell you how far you’ve gone.) Later this month is an ideal time to take this trip, as leaves fall from the overhanging trees onto the water’s surface, creating a patchwork of crimson, orange, and yellow. (Launch: To reach the boat ramp, turn south onto SW 124th Avenue from 99W, turn left on SW Tualatin Road, left on SW 115th Avenue, and left again on SW Hazelbrook Road. Look for four parking spots on the side of the road near the marked put-in. The small dock is just beneath the 99W Bridge.)

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Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Some 17 years ago, a group of citizens in the rural hamlet of Sherwood wanted to re-establish some of the area’s wetlands, many of which had been lost to agriculture and development. Numerous hard-fought battles later, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge now encompasses some 1,300 acres—though it may one day hold as much as 4,000. Explore the 400 acres open to the public (and its excellent visitors center, which opened last spring), and you’ll see how a former dairy farm is being transformed into prime habitat for birds. This month marks the beginning of the wintering birds’ return, when thousands of waterfowl, such as cinnamon teal and Northern pintail, flock to the wetlands. Hit the flat one-mile path bordering the wetlands in early morning or near dusk for the best bird-viewing. Binoculars are a must. (503-625-5944; 19255 SW Pacific Hwy; www.fws.gov/tualatinriver)

GET INVOLVED: You can download a paddler’s map of the Tualatin River from the Tualatin Riverkeepers website (www.tualatinriverkeepers.org), where you can also learn about paddle trips and volunteer events. To help out on the Tualatin Refuge (whether by staffing the visitor center or planting trees), contact the nonprofit Friends of the Refuge (503-625-5944 x227; www.friendsoftualatinrefuge.org).