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In spring, the Beaver State combines winter’s solitude with summer’s mild temperatures—but where should you go first? Simplify the decision with two great choices. Option A: the coast. Just an hour and a half from Portland, this easy-access slice of Pacific grandeur features caves, tidepools, and roughly 3 miles of beach, all fit for a day’s worth of exploring. (Sorry, no camping.) Photographer Ray Shirley recommends ducking through this tunnel in Maxwell Point near the beach entrance because it’s nearly always accessible, regardless of tide. Bonus: May is nesting season for tufted puffins and pupping season for harbor seals. (Both hang in secluded corners of the beach; keep your distance and don’t disturb them, of course.)
Option B: the forest. There may be nothing more “Oregon” than a waterfall surging through a corridor of conifers, ferns, and mosses so dense you can barely tell the time of day. Such cascades promise to be even more thunderous than usual this May, thanks to record-breaking snowfall last winter. Get your fix on the 3-mile Waterfalls Loop, part of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, which passes Sahalie Falls (pictured), a raging 100-footer in normal years, and 70-foot Koosah Falls. The hike is short, but we bet you’ll linger.