Outdoors with Kids in Chehalem Valley: Disc Golf at Champoeg Park

IMG_20160325_120740347Champoeg State Park is a beautiful place to go to be outside in the Newberg area, and I have many fond memories of it: biking on the trails with my family as a kid, biking there with my eighth grade class (along a highway!!! Looking back, I’m really surprised they let us do that), hikes, and barbecues.

When I was a kid, however, they didn’t yet have a disc golf course, but now they do. My dad came to visit for the day and we wanted to do something outside, but my kids were not up for a hike. E suggested disc golf, so we decided to try that. We found our disc golf Frisbees, packed some snacks, looked up where the disc golf course was on the park map, and we were off. (Here is a map of the whole grounds, showing the disc golf area in relation to the roads and entrance, and here is a map of each hole. You can also pick up a map of each hole at a convenient kiosk right near the first hole.) Cost of admission is $5/car for the whole park.

IMG_20160325_115715052We had a fun time, although it was a couple weeks ago and it had been raining quite a bit, so the course was rather swampy. The start of each hole was a nice cement platform, though, and the end was a well-maintained disc golf catcher (these probably have technical names, but…I don’t know what it is. Hole?), and my kids don’t mind getting muddy, so we had a good time anyway. You might want to wear rubber boots if you go in the winter or spring, though.

IMG_20160325_122235868We made it through about hole 7 or 8, and then we experienced a meltdown. E, the 9-year-old, got frustrated that K, the 5-year-old, was allowed to make as many throws as he wanted and we weren’t making him follow the rules. K, however, had a grand old time playing in the mud.

IMG_20160325_130008850After trying to talk E down from his meltdown for a while, we gave up and went back to the car for our snacks. Most of the holes are right around the parking lot, so it wasn’t difficult getting back to the car! We sat on the curb and played “20 questions” (all animals, all the time) while snacking, and at one point K pointed and exclaimed, “Look! An eagle!” Dad and I were prepared to say, “Oh yeah, it could be…” not really believing him, but we looked over, and there was a white-headed bird gliding off into the distance. It was great to see a bald eagle. Dad told the boys about how it used to be such a treat to see a bald eagle, and E had heard about DDT in school. It’s hopeful to remember that we can make progress on some environmental problems, and we’ve managed to bring back bald eagles from the brink. Hopefully that bodes well for all the other environmental problems we’re currently facing.

While at Champoeg I also thought about all I’ve learned about the history of that area, from its role in Oregon statehood to its pre-European tradition as a trading post and a place to gather camas bulbs. I know that there are people attempting to restore something like the native prairie on some of Champoeg State Park’s land, which is great. Someday I’d like to try roasted camas. Although it’s not exactly the same as it was a few hundred years ago, at least it’s still a relatively natural space.

All in all, it was a great midday trip. It’s nice to have a beautiful spot like that to go that’s not too far from town.

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