Photos by Cheryl Landes
Willamette Mission State Park near Gervais, Oregon, is the site of the first Euro-American community in the Willamette Valley. Reverend Jason Lee established the mission in 1834. The mission no longer stands, but a trail leads to a viewpoint where you can see a reconstructed outline of the buildings across Mission Lake.
The park has more than 15 miles of trails for hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. There’s also a disc golf course with 18 holes that weave through a hazelnut grove. Fishing, birdwatching, and picnicking at tables in the hazelnut grove are also popular.
The country’s largest black cottonwood thrives on the bank of Mission Lake. The 155-foot-tall tree is 270 years old, with a circumference of more than 28 feet.
Willamette Mission State Park is 41 miles south of Portland.