Camassia Natural Area, Mary S. Young Park, and Tryon Creek State Natural Area

We continue to be impressed by the number and variety of urban hikes in the Portland-metro area. On our most recent outing we visited three more areas near West Linn and Lake Oswego.

We started our day in West Linn at the Camassia Natural Area just before 7am. Our hike started from the trailhead at the end of Walnut Street.

Camassia Natural Area

A few feet from the trailhead is a signboard and the start of a loop.

Camassia Natural Area Trailhead

Camassia Natural Area Map

We picked up a guide brochure and started the loop by heading left (clockwise).

Camassia Natural Area

The woodlands here were full of white flowers including trillium, giant fawn lilies, and giant white wakerobin.

Trilium

Giant fawn lilies

Giant white wakerobin

We detoured to the right briefly at a “Pond” sign which led down to a very muddy wet area.

Camassia Natural Area

Pond at Camassia Natural Area

Continuing on the loop the next brief detour was to the left at a pointer for Wilderness Park.

Camassia Natural Area

We followed this path a short distance to a small wildflower meadow full of giant blue-eyed mary and rosy plectritis.

Giant blue-eyed mary

Plectritis

As we were returning to the loop trail Heather spotted an animal moving in a meadow below. As we headed toward the meadow on the trail we were excited to find out what was roaming the meadow. As it turned out our first wildlife encounter of the day was a domestic cat.

Camassia Natural Area

Cat at Camassia Natural Area

We were still a week or two early for the bulk of the flowers, especially the camas, but again this meadow had a nice showing of the plectritis and blue-eyed mary.

Camassia Natural Area

Camas and plectritis

One of the few open camas blossoms.

Plectritis

The trail passed through the meadow and into an open oak woodland where we detoured to the right to an overlook of a large pond.

Camassia Natural Area

Pond in Camassia Natural Area

At a “High School” pointer in another meadow we left the loop trail again.

Camassia Natural Area

This path led past some nice flower displays to a marshy wetland.

Wildflowers in Camassia Natural Area

Plectritis and giant blue-eyed mary

Bog in Camassia Natural Area

The Oregonhiker field guide mentions that this wetland is “one the best areas in the northwest to see Great Camas“. We were too early to see much in the way of camas but we did spot a lone stalk blooming near the far end of the wetland.

Giant camas

On our way back to the loop trail we spotted a hairy woodpecker working on finding its breakfast.

Hairy woodpecker

The loop trail descended a set up steps and soon entered a rockier meadow with more flowers including some Oregon saxifrage which was still unfolding.

Camassia Natural Area

Camassia Natural Area

Wildflowers in Camassia Natural Area

The trail then led to a viewpoint atop a cliff next to some madrones.

Madrones in Camassia Natural Area

Camassia Natural Area

More wildflowers followed before the trail reentered the woods.

Giant blue-eyed mary

Plectritis meadow

Camassia Natural Area

We passed a point for the Bridge Trail which headed downhill toward the high school parking lot and came to a viewpoint of Mt. Hood. Well what would have been a view of Mt. Hood on a clearer day anyway.

Camassia Natural Area

Looking toward Mt. Hood on a cloudy morning

One final patch of camas awaited before we completed our mile loop here.

Camas

For our next stop we headed north on Highway 43 (Willamete Dr.) to Mary S. Young Park. A joint effort between the city of West Linn and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department the park sits on the bank of the Willamette River and offers many activities. We began our hike from the trailhead at the parking lot at the end of the park entrance road.

Mary S. Young Park Trailhead

There were no brochures available with maps so we took a photo of a map off a signboard near the parking lot which turned out to be extremely helpful due to a serious lack of signage along the trails. We set off on the paved Riverside Loop Trail near the northern end of the parking lot. After a few feet we veered left on a wide unpaved path between picnic tables.
Mary S. Young Park

The woods here were filled with large trillium flowers of varying color.

Trillium

Trillium

Trillium

After crossing over the Trillium Trail we turned right at a T-shaped junction on the Turkey Creek Trail. This trail led downhill to Turkey Creek.

Turkey Creek Trail

Turkey Creek Trail

Turkey Creek Trail

After about a quarter mile the Turkey Creek Trail ended at the paved Riverside Loop Trail where we turned left. We stayed right at a fork and headed downhill to the Cedar Island Trail.

Mary S. Young Park

We veered left onto the muddy Cedar Island Trail even though we knew that the recent heavy rains had swollen the Willamette enough that access to Cedar Island itself would be cut off.

Willamette River

Riverside Loop Trail

Rabbit hopping into the brush on the left side of the Cedar Island Trail

Looking at Cedar Island

Cedar Island

After taking a look at Cedar Island we turned around staying right at junctions to pass around a sewer pump station on the Beaver Trail. At the far end of the station we turned left through a fence and dropped back down to the Riverside Loop Trail.
Fringecup and a couple of bleeding heart were blooming in this area.

Fringecup

Bleeding heart

We headed uphill on the Riverside Loop Trail retracing earlier steps to the junction with the Turkey Creek Trail. We passed that trail and continued uphill on the paved path for approximately 500′ where we veered left to a viewpoint bench overlooking the Willamette.

Mary S. Young Park

Willamette River

This 0.1mi path looped back to the Riverside Loop Trail which we followed uphill past a picnic shelter.

Mary S. Young Park

The path continued to the southern end of the parking lot where we had started. Here we veered left onto the unpaved Heron Creek Loop Trail.

Heron Creek Loop Trail

We followed this trail as it passed the parks ball fields and some busy squirrels.

Mary S. Young Park

Squirrel

At the far end of the fields we spotted only the second pointer we had seen along the trails where we stayed on the Heron Creek Loop Trail as it headed back into the woods.

Heron Creek Loop Trail

Heron Creek Loop Trail

Back in the woods we spotted a pair of woodpeckers in the same area. One appeared to be a hairy woodpecker while the other was a red-breasted sapsucker.

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-breasted sapsucker

Using the picture of the map on Heather’s phone we stuck to the Heron Creek Loop by staying left at junctions and crossing over both the Trillium Trail and the park entrance road. We stayed right at the next junction opting not to take the short Eagle Scout Loop Trail then stayed straight at a junction with the the Railroad Trail. Beyond that junction the Heron Creek Loop Trail soon began a descent to Heron Creek.

Heron Creek Loop Trail

Heron Creek Loop Trail

Heron Creek

After a second descent and climb past a tributary of the creek the trail leveled out again before arriving at the Turkey Creek Trail where we turned left, crossed Turkey Creek and arrived back at the junction where we had turned onto the Turkey Creek Trial earlier in the morning. We then retraced our earlier steps back to the parking area ending a 3 mile hike through the park.

We then headed for our final stop of the day in Lake Oswego at the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. There are several possible trailheads for the park we chose to start at the large parking area near the Nature Center. (Note the Nature Center and Jackson Shelter are currently closed due to construction but the restrooms are open. No reopening date has been set as of the day of this post.)

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

We stopped by the closed Nature Center to pick up a paper map and also consulted the map on a signboard to plot out our hike. The number of trails and multiple junctions allowed for numerous possibilities. We settled on a loop utilizing the North Horse Loop, Lewis & Clark, Middle Creek, Cedar, Red Fox, and Old Main Trails.

Map for Tryon Creek State Natural Area

From the Nature Center we followed a brick path right (north) to another map.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

We stayed straight for a tenth of a mile passing the Maple Ridge Trail on the left just before a junction with the North Horse Loop.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

This wide path led through a green forest with violets and trillium.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Violets and trillium

After .2 miles we stayed left ignoring the right hand route leading to a bicycle path and then quickly veered right when the North Horse Loop split creating two loop options.

North Horse Loop

This right hand path swung north another .4 miles to a junction with the Lewis and Clark Trail.

North Horse Loop

Lews and Clark Trail

We followed pointers for the Lewis and Clark Trail and Terry Riley Bridge. The trail descended along a hillside above East Fork Tryon Creek to the small suspension bridge which passed over a side stream.

Lewis and Clark Trail

Lewis and Clark Trail

Terry Riley Bridge

Terry Riley Bridge

On our way down we passed a stump hosting a pair of snails. We actually spotted quite a few in the park.

Snails on a stump

Snail

Beyond the suspension bridge .2 miles we rejoined the equestrian trail and crossed over Tryon Creek on High Bridge.

High Bridge

Tryon Creek

The trail split on the far side of High Bridge where we opted to go left on the hiker only Middle Creek Trail.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

We followed this path for .2 miles across a boardwalk and along Tryon Creek to another trail junction.

Middle Creek Trail

Middle Creek Trail

At this junction we left the Middle Creek Trail crossing over the West Horse Loop and headed up the Cedar Trail.

Cedar Trail

We followed the Cedar Trail through the woods, crossing the West Horse Loop again at the .2 mile mark, then crossing Park Creek on Bunk Bridge, passing a small pond and finally crossing Paget Creek on another bridge before arriving at the Red Fox Trail a mile from the start of the Cedar Trail.

Cedar Trail

Park Creek from Bunk Bridge

Bunk Bridge

looking back at Bunk Bridge

Pond in Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Cedar Trail

Bridge over Paget Creek

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Red Fox Trail junction.

We turned left onto the Red Fox Trail and in just over a tenth of a mile crossed Tryon Creek on Red Fox Bridge.

Red Fox Bridge

Red Fox Brdige

Tryon Creek

The trail made a brief but steep climb up to a three way junction with the Big Fir and Old Main Trail. We opted for the slightly shorter (but less crowded) Old Main Trail and turned right for .3 miles back to the Nature Center. Our route came in at 3.5 miles.

Although there were a lot of people in the park it never really felt all that crowded which was nice. There are still some trails left too so a return trip may be in order sometime in the future when the Nature Center is back open.

In all we covered 7.5 miles between the three stops and saw quite a few different flowers and a decent amount of wildlife. It had been another nice set of urban hikes. As much as we are looking forward to getting back up into the mountains once the snow melts we’re finding that these types of hikes have a lot to offer. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Camassia Natural Area, Mary S. Young Park, and Tryon Creek

Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

Despite what the weather thinks we are approaching our hiking season which means we will be hitting the trails much more often over the next 6 months. As we work our way into hiking shape we jumped on a chance at a rain free morning and headed to the Columbia River Gorge to check out a pair of waterfalls. Several trails in the gorge remain closed due to fire damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire and others that had been reopened are again closed due to rock fall and slides caused by our recent weather combined with the fire damage. Please remember to check on the current status and conditions of trails before heading out.

Our sights were set on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks to Pacific Crest Falls. We had visited Pacific Crest Falls coming from the other side in October of 2015 (post) but at that time of year there wasn’t much water flowing so we thought a return visit was in order, especially after our recent rains.

We began our hike at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead in Cascade Locks.
Bridge of the Gods Trailhead

From the trailhead we took the Pacific Crest Trail south.
Pacific Crest Trail sign in Cascade Locks

Pacific Crest Trail at Cascade Locks

The PCT briefly follows Harvey Road as it passes under I84 to a second possible trailhead.
Short road stretch on the PCT

Pacific Crest/Gorge Trail

From the Harvey Road Trailhead the PCT climbed gradually through the fire scarred forest. It was encouraging to see that many if not most of the trees along this section had survived. There was also quite a few early Spring flowers blooming.
Pacific Crest Trail in the Eagle Creek Fire scar

Eagle Creek Fire scar along the Pacific Crest Trail

Violets and snow queenSnow queen and violets

TrilliumTrillium

Just under a mile from Harvey Road the PCT once again briefly shared a gravel roadbed as it passed under a set of power lines.
Another short stretch of road along the Pacific Crest Trail

The trail leveled out shortly after passing the power lines and traversed along a sometimes steep hillside for three quarters of a mile to a signed junction near Dry Creek.
Pacific Crest Trail

Forest along the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Dry Creek Falls Trail

Here we detoured away from the PCT and followed the pointer for Dry Creek Falls. This trail followed an old roadbed along Dry Creek just over a quarter of mile to Dry Creek Falls.
Approaching Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek with Dry Creek Falls in the distance

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

After a nice little break at the base of the falls we headed back to the PCT where we turned right and crossed Dry Creek on a footbridge.
Footbridge over Dry Creek

Dry Creek

We had been discussing the fact that hikers were starting to post picture of fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) one of our favorites. We weren’t sure if any would be blooming yet in this area but we managed to spot a few as we continued south on the PCT.
Fairy slipper

Approximately 1.25 miles from Dry Creek the PCT crossed a talus slope.
Pacific Crest Trail

At the beginning of this section we spotted group of yellow flowers which turned out to be glacier lilies.
Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

This section also provided the best, albeit limited, view across the Columbia River during this hike.
Columbia River

A half mile beyond the talus we passed the Herman Creek Pinnacles. We detoured briefly to get a closer look at the basalt formation and the cute little monkeyflowers blooming amid the rocks.
Herman Creek Pinnacles

Herman Creek Pinnacles

Chickeweed monkeyflower

Chickweed monkeyflower

After exploring the pinnacles we continued on and in less than a quarter mile arrived at Pacific Crest Falls.
Approaching Pacific Crest Falls

Pacific Crest Falls

The amount of water flowing over the falls was noticeably more this time around.
Pacific Crest FallsOctober 2015

Pacific Crest FallsApril 2019

We turned around here and headed back along the PCT to the junction near Dry Creek. Instead of returning to Cascade Locks via the PCT we turned downhill on the old road and followed the creek downhill.
Old roadbed back to Cascade Locks

Dry Creek

Dry Creek

After approximately 1.25 miles we passed some sort of a structure followed by a gate.
Dry Creek Road

Beyond the gate Dry Creek Road was open and well graveled.
Dry Creek Road

After passing a few logging roads and swinging quite a ways east we passed under I84 by turning left on SW Ruckle St which we followed to its end at SW Adams Ave. We turned left on Adams which brought us to a school.
Cascade Locks

We passed behind the school (and library) and made our way to Highway 30 where we turned left again towards the Bridge of the Gods.
Heading through Cascade Locks

Cascade Locks

Bridge of the Gods

We arrived back at our car as the rain was arriving. The hike was approximately 9.5 miles (I had some battery issues with the GPS) with a little under 1000′ of elevation gain. Hiking through Cascade Locks at the end was definitely not the most exciting end to a hike and unless you’re like us and specifically seek out alternate return routes I’d recommend just returning as you came. That being said the upper portion of the road walk along Dry Creek was nice.

I want to take a moment to thank the volunteers that have worked so hard to restore the trails affected by the fire. In particular the PCTA and Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) have been hard at work and doing an excellent job. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls