Outdoors with Kids in Chehalem Valley: Harvey Creek Trail

Harvey Creek Trailhead, Red Hills Rd., Dundee, OR

As spring begins and it’s possible to get outside more often without freezing or getting soaked to the bone, I’ve been trying to spend more time outside with my kids. Therefore, I’m starting a new series here called “Outdoors with Kids in Chehalem Valley.” If you have ideas for other nearby places to go, let me know! It feels like a lot of work to get out to the Columbia Gorge or the Coast Range for a “real” hike, but hikes and other outdoor experiences closer by are definitely doable of a morning or afternoon, and have the added bonus of requiring less travel time.

I’m starting this series with the Harvey Creek Trail in Dundee, OR. I feel like this trail is not very well known, but for those of us living in Chehalem Valley who want to get outside a bit, this is a great option for a short but beautiful hike. My five-year-old and I did this hike yesterday and had a great time. It’s pretty steep in places for a kiddo, but since it’s not long, it’s doable. I can’t find any information about how long it is, but I’d say it’s probably a half mile or so. (UPDATE: we did this again with my Runkeeper app going, and it is indeed about a half mile each way, depending on which trails you take.) Dundee is developing more trails through this space, so one could potentially make the hike longer by weaving back and forth along all the trails. (UPDATE: As of 8.1.16, there are lots more trails now! They criss-cross each other, but as long as you are going generally up, if that’s the direction you’re going, or down, if that’s the direction you’re going, then you can’t get lost. They just zigzag back and forth.) Others online mention that this is a trail that provides walking access to wineries along Red Hills Rd., so even if you don’t have kids (or don’t want to bring them), this can be a nice alternative wine tour.

Harvey Creek Trail
Harvey Creek Trailheads, image from Google Earth

This hike has two access points. The easiest one to find is at the top of the hill in Dundee at the Dundee Pioneer Cemetery. If you turn northwest at the light on 5th St. and go up the hill past the school, left when it comes to a T with Upland Dr., right on SW Alder St., and then left on Viewmont Dr., you come to the top of the hill and you’ll see the cemetery. Tucked into the edge of the woods is a trailhead marker. You can also get at this trail from the opposite side by going out Red Hills Rd. It’s on the gravel part of the road, and is easily visible on the left side of the road if one is traveling along Red Hills Rd. coming from Newberg. There is a trail marker and a small pullout where you can park.

Backpacking the Zigzag Trail on Mt. Hood with my six-month-old

I used to walk this trail often, although it didn’t have any trail markers at the time and I wasn’t sure if it was public or not! I lived in that area about 9 years ago, renting space in one of the houses in the neighborhood, when we birthed our first son. I carried him around in a backpack up and down all the streets, prepping for the backpacking trip in the photo at left, and often I’d take him up to the cemetery and do a trail hike with him.

Harvey Creek
Bridge over Harvey Creek

Yesterday, I asked my younger son if he wanted to walk the trail uphill on the way and downhill on the way back, or downhill first and end with uphill, and he wisely chose to start from the bottom and go up first. Therefore, we started at the Red Hills Rd. end, went up to the cemetery, and back down. We went at his pace, wandering and looking closely, then running for short bursts, stopping frequently for snacks. We threw “helicopters” off the bridge into Harvey Creek,

Harvey Creek detail
Detail of mushrooms and moss on a tree stump along Harvey Creek Trail

looked in every stump and hole in the ground for animals, and listened to all the different bird calls. We walked through the cemetery and discussed death a little bit, and we told stories and shared thoughts. He crouched down and found the three little mushrooms in this network of miniature tunnels.

Although this trail is never out of earshot of traffic, airplanes, and truck noise, and one can see houses or other marks of the presence of human beings along the way (besides the trail) for much of the journey, I still recommend this trail as a beautiful area where one can get outside, smell the forest, hear the sounds of other species, and appreciate a public green space without having to spend long in the car if you live in the vicinity.

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