Like most dogs, my dog Merry loves playing outside. Living in the Portland metro area, that usually means we’re limited to backyards or fenced-in parks. While the parks in the Hillsboro area where Merry and I live aren’t bad (although the winter pebble section does hurt his paws) Portland has one huge secret paradise for dogs that is absolutely incredible; the Sandy River Delta Park.
Sandy River Delta Park is open year-round and is the doggie equivalent to Disney World. It’s a massive, thousand-acre park where dogs are allowed to roam free (except for the parking lot and the Confluence Trail), and us humans can get in a lovely, easy, walk. People also bring their horses here, so if you’ve ever wanted to let Buster see a horse in real life (Merry loves watching them on TV) there’s a pretty good chance of that here!
The park encompasses a large forest section, grassland area and, of course, the Sandy River section. It is seldom busy (even on summer weekends) and there is always plenty of parking available. All the dogs we’ve met have been friendly, as have the people. If you’re considering taking your dog to a beach, Sandy River is a wonderful alternative to ocean beach. It’s safer, has shaded areas, and tends to have fewer small children present
When it’s hot out we both love to play in the water. Most areas are shallow and gentle enough that we’ve only lost one toy thus far. Later in the summer there are ample blackberries to pick–who loves pie?! Aside from foxtail seeds, Merry and I have never encountered anything dangerous here at any time of year.
Note of Caution: Dogs must be on-leash on the Confluence Trail–there’s a $100 fine if you are caught without your dog on a leash. If you’re looking for an off-leash friendly option, try the The Meadow Trail.
Recommendations for when you go:
- Bring something to carry your full doggie bags with you, trashcans are few and far between and often overflowing.
- Bring a towel (for the car)–double use as a place to sit on the riverbank.
- Bug repellant is especially helpful in late Summer/Fall.
- In warmer months remember to wear sunscreen and put a little sunscreen on your dog’s nose too!
- When grasses are going to seed bring something to cover your dog’s nose and ears so that they don’t breathe in the harmful seeds called foxtails. These can get lodged in a dog’s lungs, nose, or ears and later require vet attention. The OutFox Field Guard is the best solution I’ve seen so far, but any other product or DIY suggestions are welcome!
If you do head out to the Sandy River Delta Park, send some pictures. If you have other favorite parks in the area, we’d love to hear about them too! If you see Merry and I out & about, please stop and say ‘Hello!’