The South Fork of the Walla Walla Trail and Harris Park will always top my list of recommended areas to explore. The word iconic comes to mind. We always take family who visit from the south here because it simply shows off so many of our area’s most beautiful features.
Just a short drive southeast of town, the park itself is excellent for all members of the family. We often grab breakfast burritos and take everyone young and old to picnic and listen to the river. The play structure always offers up enough entertainment to distract the littles and let everyone visit. We’ve talked about camping for a long weekend but just haven’t done it yet. Once the kids are able to play volleyball, I would imagine they will have to kick us off the sand court!
In the summer, there is plenty of shade to escape the heat, which is another reason I love this place. The South Fork Walla Walla Trail starts just two miles down the road from Harris Park and provides a number of access points to the river to splash around at the shoreline. It always amazes me how fast the terrain changes in our area. This is especially true if you take the back road, which winds between wheat and peas to the canyon the river calls home. With every mile, trees replace agriculture. Before you know it, you are in the mountains.
I especially like the first few miles of this trail. An easy, wide, relatively flat trail quickly opens up to the river. The rocky cliffs and dense vegetation make it interesting as well. Depending on the season, this is a popular fishing spot. It will also forever be in my heart as it was my inaugural mountain bike trip. Prior to that trip, I hadn’t really noticed how rocky the trail is in places but it makes perfect sense as a river bottom.
If you aren’t local and are looking for an opportunity to check off outdoor activity from your Walla Walla vacation to do list, this very well could be the trail for you. Bring friends and family who aren’t familiar with the area to the park and then stretch your legs on the trail. You can walk, run, bike, ride your horse, or fire up your motorcycle and explore the Umatilla National Forest for miles! You could also go with my previous suggestion of grabbing a breakfast burrito and sitting on a picnic bench next to the river at Harris Park. Either way, there is fun to be had!
Don’t forget to explore Milton-Freewater, Oregon at some point in your journey as well. A variety of really unique experiences from fresh hard cider to the best collection of shoes west of the Mississippi exist in this sweet little town. Whether you are looking for a quick trip outdoors or want to put in some miles, this is an exceptional way to introduce yourself to the Blue Mountains.