Explore the new Tillamook Forest Center

Start a woodsy day trip here
Bonnie Henderson

Our favorite way to stretch our legs this spring starts with a visit to the new Tillamook Forest Center. Gaze out at the rushing Wilson River from the 250-foot-long suspension bridge, and stroll through the lushly restored woods of the Tillamook State Forest.

The center, which just opened its indoor exhibits and network of interpretive trails last month, aims to educate visitors about the big burn that devastated the forest in the 1930s and '40s and about the 72 million seedlings it took to revitalize the scorched landscape.

You can spend an entire day visiting the center, hiking, and picnicking. Be sure to stop along the Wilson River Highway (State 6) for your pick of homegrown poisons: wine or milkshakes.

Tillamook Forest Center

What: Inside, interactive historical exhibits. Outside, more than a half-mile of walking trails and a vintage fire lookout. When: 10-4 Sat-Sun, 10-6 daily starting Memorial Day. How much: Free. Where: 45500 Wilson River Hwy. (State 6 at milepost 22); www.tillamookforestcenter.org 503/359-7494.

Gales Creek Trail

What: An easy to moderate 2-mile jaunt leading into the grassy valley of Low Divide Creek. Where: Start at Summit Trailhead, on State 6 at milepost 33; end at Gales Creek Campground, milepost 35.

Wilson River Trail

What: A foxglove-lined walk along the north bank. Where: From the bridge at the Tillamook Forest Center, follow the trail west about 1 mile to Cedar Creek or 2.8 miles more to a new footbridge back across the river.

Smith Homestead Day Use Area

What: Riverside picnic tables and barbecues beneath Tillamook's towering Douglas firs. How much: Free. Where: State 6, ½ mile east of forest center (between mileposts 22 and 23).

Lee's Camp Store

What: Rural outpost with real-deal milkshakes made from Tillamook Ice Cream. When: Open daily. Where: 48400 Wilson River Hwy. (State 6 just west of milepost 24); 503/842-8684.

Apolloni Vineyards

What: Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris poured in Apolloni's new tasting room. When: Noon-5 Fri-Sun. How much: Free tastings. Where: 14135 N.W. Timmerman Rd., Forest Grove, off State 6 near milepost 44; www.apolloni.com 503/330-5946.

Info: Tillamook is about 50 miles west of Portland via U.S. 26 and State 6; Forest Grove is roughly halfway between Portland and Tillamook.