Just off of Highway 26 sits an exceptional park that most travelers simply miss and drive by. If you've driven from Portland to Mount Hood, you've probably seen the "Wildwood Recreation Site" sign that marks the entrance and wondered what its all about.
The park's size is considerable and covers an area totaling 580 acres. Interestingly, though it is a parcel of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, it is completely surrounded by the Mount Hood National Forest and is one of several gateways into the much larger, 70-square-mile Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
Tucked under groves of bigleaf maples and Douglas fir, the park has three distinct areas that offer a completely unique experience:
The reserveable group picnic area is a day use recreation area akin to the best of municipal parks. It is designed to accommodate large gatherings, whether company retreats, family reunions, or just a place to play with the kids. The area features a sports field, two basketball courts, a sand volleyball court, a playground, swings, several regular picnic tables and two very large picnic tables. Both the Pioneer Shelter and Mountain View Shelter can each accommodate upwards of 200 people with facilities that include water, electricity, barbeque grills, and electric stove tops.
The Cascade Streamwatch Area abuts the Salmon River as the name implies, and it is the perfect location for viewing spawning salmon, particularly in late September and October. The main attraction is the Cascade Streamwatch viewing pavilion where an ADA accessible ramp leads below ground to provide an underwater glimpse of Sixes Creek (a natural habitat for fry salmon). Interpretive boards and picnic areas are dotted along the trails and make the area ideal for an afternoon getaway. The area also features the Salmon River Shelter, which is equipped with picnic tables, potable water, and electricity.
Crossing over the Salmon River via a footbridge, the Wildwood Wetlands Area features a 1-mile trail and boardwalk that offers a glimpse of the park's wilder side. From here, the Boulder Ridge Trail ventures into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and climbs roughly 1,400 feet in 1.8 miles to reach the first spectacular viewpoint of Mount Hood. Continue an additional 3.5 miles and climb 1,700 feet to reach the 4,300-foot summit of Huckleberry Mountain.