Molalla Train Park (Molalla)
If you have a train enthusiast under your roof, you know there are lots of fun (and sometimes pricey) train outings both in and outside of Portland. We found the Molalla Train Park to be a hidden gem among those options and is FREE (donations are welcome and encouraged).
It is volunteer run and only open Sunday afternoons from May through October (starting May 7th for the 2017 year), but well worth the 50+ minute drive for an enjoyable afternoon with your family.
The trains are 7.5 inch gauge (for those of us not steeped in train trivia, this refers to the space between the rails) so it is more like riding on a train than in it. And for some of the train cars you are, in fact, straddling the bench with no straps or seats so this may not be an ideal set up for the very young (my 2 year-olds did fine with it).
There are several trains running at a time. They are mainly steamers but there are some gasoline and diesel ones in the mix. Below my son is yelling, “There are trains everywhere!”
We never waited in line for more than 10 minutes and it is about a 10 minute loop around the property. You can take as many rides as you like. We found three rides with a little picnic lunch mixed in was a full enough afternoon. But from the looks of some folks’ set up in the picnic area, some groups were there for family birthday celebrations and were equipped for an entire afternoon.
There are picnic tables and open lawn space and you can bring in your own food. There is also a snack bar with very reasonable prices but a bit of a wait (at least the afternoon we went).
There are some shaded areas, so if you are lucky enough to visit on a clear, hot day you can find some respites from the sun. There is not a playground; this park is all about trains.
The park is nestled in a residential street. The parking is right on the street and we didn’t have to park too far from the entrance. There is no sidewalk and you will be navigating dirt paths inside the park but it is stroller friendly.
I found the website doesn’t do the place justice, but there are several videos on You Tube that give you a better sense of the experience. We definitely plan to make a visit (or two) to the park part of our summer for the next few years.
Sionainn is a single momma to 3 year-old boy/girl twins and lives in SE Portland.
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