They built it ― a 320-foot floating dock on the river downstream of Oregon City's thundering Willamette Falls ― and it came: a tour boat dressed up like a vintage stern-wheeler. Hop aboard this summer and let the Belle of the Falls take you as close as you can get (unless you're a salmon) to the massive cataract, where the entire width of the river free-falls more than 40 feet.
Now there's also a little depot where Amtrak stops four times a day, and excursion trolleys rolling through town to sites like the McLoughlin House and Barclay House, which the National Park Service protects. Climb aboard!
Belle of the Falls. WHAT: A fun faux stern- wheeler tour boat provides open-air excursion rides to Willamette Falls and beyond. WHEN: 11, 1, and 3 Thu-Sun through Sep 25. HOW MUCH: $15 for a one-hour trip. WHERE: Jon Storm Transient Dock, 1801 Clackamette Dr., off State 99E (McLoughlin Blvd.); www.belleofthefalls.com or 503/286-7673.
End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. WHAT: Hands-on exhibits help bring the westbound covered-wagon immigrants' experience to life. WHEN: 9:30-5 Mon-Sat, 10:30-4 Sun. HOW MUCH: $9. WHERE: 1726 Washington St.; www.endoftheoregontrail.org or 503/657-9336.
Historic Oregon City Trolleys. WHAT: Two vintage-style trolleys offer rides on intersecting routes every 45 minutes. WHEN: 10:45 a.m.-3:45 p.m. daily. HOW MUCH: Free. WHERE: Stops at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, the Rivershore Hotel, and other selected historic sites; www.orcity.org or 503/657-8299.
Clackamas River Trail. WHAT: Paved 1-mile path edges the Clackamas River and Clackamette Cove (bring a swimsuit) just upstream of its confluence with the Willamette. WHERE: Just east of Clackamette Park; drive (or pedal in the bike lanes) 1⁄4 mile east on Main St. to the trailhead.
The Little Red Hen Bakery and Deli. WHAT: Busy little eatery with fresh sandwiches and wraps. WHEN: Breakfast and lunch daily. HOW MUCH: $. WHERE: Historic district, 602 Seventh St.; 503/653-9797. ―Bonnie Henderson
INFO: Oregon City is off I-205; from Portland's east side, take State 99E (McLoughlin Blvd.) south, or from the west side, take State 43 south through Lake Oswego.