Sherwood will be southern anchor on county's tourism drive

Officials redrew the map to include the city as a southern terminus
by: Courtesy of Convention & Visitors Bureau of Washington County, The orange line shows the proposed route for the Wine Country Scenic Tour Route.

When visitors get ready to travel the Washington County Wine Country Scenic Tour Route, they'll find the beginning of the road or the end of the line in Sherwood.

The route, currently being developed by a team of county and city officials and local businesses, was recently rerouted to include Sherwood. Planners expect the project to be complete sometime in 2008.

'It makes perfect sense,' Sherwood Chamber of Commerce CEO Holli Robinson said of ending the route here. 'From 99 and Roy Rogers, you can go to the casino, or to the beach, or back into town or Washington Square.'

The 60-mile route can be done in either direction, with terminuses near Helvetia and at Highway 99W and Roy Rogers Road in Sherwood. It traces a large, half circle through much of the northern western and southern portions of the county, incorporating wineries, scenic views, recreation opportunities and shopping.

"We wanted to get close to certain features. We did our best to go right past or go near a lot of wineries in the county. We've got 18 wineries and we're really close to about 15 of them, and there are others that are just a stone's throw away," said Gerald Kubiak, the project manager. "There are scenic attributes at southern end on Laurelview Road, where there are the prime Cascade Range views in the county."

Kubiak said Sherwood provides a "strong southern anchor" for the route with its budding Old Town scene, close proximity to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge and access to southern wineries in the Willamette Valley.

The scenic tour route was conceived in 2004 by the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, but lost got lost in the shuffle amid other projects, Kubiak explained. It regained steam in 2006, and a project advisory committee has been working on the route. The group is preparing to present their plan to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Once passed, it will be officially designated as a scenic byway, and will include signs in each direction pointing the way for drivers. There will also be online and print materials guiding visitors to the multiple attractions along the drive.

"We're interested in using the maps and brochures not to show folks just which road the route goes on," Kubiak said, "but also to tell them about the diverse opportunities for sightseeing and culture and shopping and dining and lodging."

The route was also designed to stay in relatively close proximity to major highways, so visitors have several access points. After starting near Helvetia, it travels along country roads parallel to Highway 26 before veering south on State Route 8. It then meanders east across the county, eventually heading south on Roy Rogers Road and into Sherwood.

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