A Hidden Gem Island Off This West Coast State Has Trails, Beaches, & Scenic Views

An island vacation sounds perfect right now, doesn't it? Perhaps you're thinking of something tropical with hot weather and lazy lounging. While that sounds great, not everyone has a sort of Caribbean or equatorial penchant. Maybe you prefer cooler sunny days of hiking and boating, or swimming for fun rather than just to deal with the hot and steamy air. If a cooler island up north is more your style, we have the perfect spot for you. 

The island of Sauvie, a mere 10 miles north of the West Coast's Portland, Oregon has what you're looking for. With temperatures between the low 70s and 80s during the day from May through September, this is no sticky, hot island. Plus, there is lots to do, from hiking to fishing and boating. There are plenty of beaches, including one that is clothing-optional. Sauvie Island is easily accessible across a bridge from Portland, meaning it's an easy day trip if you don't have time to stay the night. Let's take a look at what to do on Sauvie Island and what you need to know before you go. 

What to do on Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island, once home to Chinookan villages, is 24,000 acres and sits where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet. On the north side, you'll find a wildlife refuge, with the south side focused on farming. You'll find local farms with corn mazes, pumpkin picking, fruit, vegetables, and flowers, depending on the time of year you visit. One place you'll find everything from strawberries to Christmas trees is Sauvie Island Farms. They've also got marionberries, blackberries, different types of raspberries and peaches, pears, cabbage, zucchini, corn, herbs, and flowers that you can pick yourself and/or purchase.

The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area allows hunting and fishing (check here for current permit requirements) from May 1 through September 30, and has room for water sports. You may run into waterfowl like sandhill cranes and swans or animals like coyotes and black-tailed deer. It has a boat ramp, trails, bathrooms, a picnic area, and boat rentals. 

There are plenty of beaches like Warrior Point (which we'll get to), North Unit, Walton, and Reeder, though the latter is only for RV campers. It's important to note that Collins Beach is famously clothing-optional and has been since the 1970s. While there is a regular part of the beach, if you go, you're probably going to see naked bodies, so factor that into your planning. The beaches are open on the island from dawn through 10 p.m., and you cannot light fires or camp on them. 

Hiking on Sauvie Island and what you need to know

Before we get to the hiking, please note that parking on the island requires a permit. If you don't pay, you'll get your car towed and impounded and there is a hefty fine. The permit is a mere $10 per day, and you can get one here or at many stores on the island. One great hike to take is Warrior Point, which is 7 miles long, but on the easy side. It's on the northern tip of the island past Collins Beach (yes, that one), and it's pretty flat. It begins at Warrior Point Beach and ends at the Warrior Rock Lighthouse, which you can observe from the outside. 

Another trail to check out is the Oak Island hike, which is a much shorter 2.5 miles. You're going to get an incredible view of the volcanic Mount St. Helens, as you can see above. You'll also pass a cattle farm, so you may see some cows, as well as herons and cranes. (This is a peninsula, not an island, despite the name.) You'll walk by Sturgeon Lake and see signs designed by area students with QR codes that tell you about the area and the creatures that live there. Do note that this trail is closed from October 1 through April 15. There are plenty of other trails, including Willow Bar, which begins at the parking lot at Willow Bar Beach and ends at the Columbia River. It's hard to beat the beauty of this area. Happy hiking!