Tag Archives: Suspension Bridge

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

Mt. Rainier National Park – Northern Loop Day 2

The possible thunderstorms forecast for our first night had never really materialized. We heard a few rumbles in the distance but nothing had seemed close and we didn’t experience any rain overnight. The sky was a little cloudy as we packed up our tent but they seemed to be breaking up. We stopped at Mystic Lake to eat breakfast and enjoy the beautiful morning that was developing around us.
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From Mystic Lake the Wonderland Trail climbed through gentian filled meadows to a saddle between the mountain and Old Desolate.
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We were hiking with the animals this morning passing birds, frogs, chipmunks, and an owl who silently flew over our heads and down into a lower meadow.
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The owl flying low over the meadow just before disappearing down the hillside.
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Mt. Rainier was visible beneath the ever shifting clouds as we crested the saddle. The Carbon Glacier filled the valley before us and beyond that was Echo Cliffs and Mother Mountain.
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Further down the glacial valley a mass of clouds covered the terrain. We were heading down toward those clouds and we remembered the rain that had been in the forecast for the day.
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We followed the trail down to the meadows surrounding Moraine Creek. Along the way we spotted several pikas and had great views of a huge waterfall below Observation and Echo Rocks.
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As we continued along Moraine Creek we entered the clouds.
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About four and a half miles from Mystic Lake we came to the junction where the Northern Loop Trail split from the Wonderland Trail. The Wonderland Trail crossed the Carbon River on a suspension bridge while the Northern Loop Trail continued to follow the river down the valley. We took a short break here and took a peek at the bridge.
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We continued on the Northern Loop Trail for another mile passing through a damp forest to another trail junction.
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This junction was located near the lowest elevation point of our whole trip. From the junction the Northern Loop Trail turned uphill for a steep climb to Yellowstone Cliffs. We would be gaining some 2200′ in less than 3 miles to reach the spur trail to Yellowstone Cliffs Camp where we were to camp for the night. The park ranger who had given me our permits said the climb consisted of 38 switchbacks so we began counting them as we climbed. As we trudged up the hillside we were thankful for the clouds since they were keeping the temperature down. We were pleasantly surprised when we ended the switchbacks after about two dozen, well short of the 38 we had expected.
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Heather coming up the switchbacks.
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The trail became less steep after the swtichbacks before entering the meadows below Yellowstone Cliffs. The cliffs were shrouded in clouds as we started down the spur trail to camp.
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By the time we arrived at the tent sites we were soaked due to the moisture on the plants. We quickly picked out our site and set up our tent.
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Shortly after getting set up the rain began. It was early afternoon when it started and it wouldn’t let up until sometime during the night. This was our first experience with backpacking in the rain and we were a little concerned about our ability to stay dry. This became more of a concern when I noticed water pooling up outside of the tent near our heads. The ground was so dry and hard that the water wasn’t being absorbed at all. I quickly grabbed our trowel and attempted to drain and steer the water away from the tent. We’d also managed to forget to keep any food out for dinner. When it had started raining I ran the bear bag down to the bear pole and hung it without pulling anything out for dinner. We were left with some peanut m&ms, a small package of green olives, and a meat and cheese stick package apiece.

We stayed in the tent except for a quick trip the bathroom before attempting to sleep. Heather didn’t seem to have any trouble but I had a difficult time. The rain kept coming and I couldn’t stop wondering if we would stay dry and on top of that there was an occasional sound of large rocks falling from the cliffs. The camp was far enough away that I wasn’t worried about them at the time, but I wondered what would happen if they were still falling while we were on the trail in them morning. To top it all off my stomach decided that it really would have enjoyed dinner and that made it just a little harder to get any sleep. I managed to get a couple of hours of broken sleep waiting for morning to arrive. Happy (dry) Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157657416432875

Harts Cove & Drift Creek Falls

It has become a tradition to finish off our hiking year either on the Oregon Coast or in the coast range. This year we targeted a pair of shorter hikes to keep the tradition alive. For the first of these two hikes we traveled to Cascade Head just north of Lincoln City in order to visit Harts Cove where a waterfall spills into the Pacific Ocean. We parked at the Cascade Head Upper Trailhead along road 1861 at a sign post for the Nature Conservancy Trail. A trail here led off for a mile to Cascade Head’s upper viewpoint which we had visited before. In order to find the Harts Cove Trailhead we walked another .9miles down road 1861 where a large parking area with plenty of signs marked the start of the trail. We could have driven here but were contemplating hiking to the upper viewpoint later if the sky cleared so we decided to park at the upper trailhead.
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One of the signs warned of difficult hiking conditions on the trail which piqued our interest.
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The trail started out by diving fairly steeply downhill through the forest for the first half mile then descended more gradually to a bridge across Cliff Creek.
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Cliff Creek

After crossing the creek the trail turned back toward the ocean along a ridge. We could hear a number of sea lions on the rocks below but could only get small glimpses of them across the water through the trees.
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As the trail wound around the ridge end there was a bench that offered an obstructed view across Harts Cove to a meadow which was where the trail would end. The trail then bent back leading us around the cove. We crossed Chitwood Creek which appeared to have once had a bridge but it was now in pieces further down the creek.
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We had been in clouds and fog for most of the hike but as we came out of the forest into the meadow we could see clearer skies out over the ocean. The trail was steep here also and muddy making it a bit slick.
Looking down the trail:
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Looking up from below:
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North toward Cape Lookout:
Cape Lookout from the meadow near Harts Cove

South toward Cascade Head:
Cascade Head

The sea lions could still be heard across the way below Cascade Head, and now we could see them better.
Sea Lions and Seagulls

We followed the trail down and around to the left toward Harts Cove so that we could get a view of Chitwood Creek’s waterfall. We were surprised to find a handful of flowers in bloom including a number of Salal bushes.
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The waterfall turned out to be very picturesque as it fell down into the surging ocean.
Harts Cove and Chitwood Creeks waterfall

Chitwood Creek waterfall

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There was a nice open spot below a tree where we stopped for a snack and to remove some of the unnecessary layers of clothes we had on. While we were resting there Heather spotted a hummingbird that was interested in my orange jacket. It was zipping about, landing occasionally and then darting back into the air. I was snapping pictures frantically trying to get some sort of picture before the hummingbird disappeared. I wasn’t sure if I’d managed to get anything until we got home, but I wound up getting lucky with a single shot.
Hummingird in the meadow near Harts Cove

As we headed back up the steep trail we noticed that Haystack Rock near Pacific City was shinning in full sunlight.
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We returned the way we’d come and decided to skip the upper viewpoint because it still appeared to be enveloped in the clouds. This hike had been 7.6 miles which included the unnecessary 1.8 miles due to parking at the upper trailhead.

Our next stop was Drift Creek Falls which is located in the Siuslaw National Forest between Hwy 18 & Hwy 101 along Drift Creek Camp Road (Road 17). There was a good sized parking area and restrooms at the trailhead.
Drift Creek Falls Trailhead

The trail leads down through the forest crossing two creeks on footbridges.
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At the .7 mile mark the trail forks at a sign for the North Loop, a longer loop option which we planned to take on the way back from the falls. A third of a mile later we came to the other end of the North Loop.
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Just a short distance later we arrived at the suspension bridge over Drift Creek.
Suspension Bridge over Drift Creek

The bridge passes over the creek very close to the falls allowing for some nice views.
Drift Creek Falls

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The trail continues on the far side of the bridge down to Drift Creek where we could get a different perspective.
Drift Creek Falls

After enjoying the falls for a bit we headed back, this time taking the North Loop which would add about .7 miles to the return trip. This 1 mile section of trail climbed up and wound back through the forest. Aside from the trees and a few mushrooms there wasn’t much to see, but the trail was nice and good for a little extra exercise if wanted.
North Loop - Drift Creek Falls Trail

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By taking the North Loop back we wound up with a total of 3.9 miles showing on the Garmin. These two trails were close enough (30 minute drive) and short enough to do in a day but they were also nice enough to stand on their own. As far as the cautions at the Harts Cove Trail we didn’t experience anything that we found too hard or scary but some of that is subjective and the trial was steep in places and the wet conditions caused a lot of mud which was slick at times. We will most likely be back to the coast sometime next month to kick off our 2015 hikes, but until then Happy Trails!

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