Categories
Corvallis Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Albany Parks and Snag Boat Bend – 04/22/2023

The delayed arrival of Spring weather has begun affecting the timing of the hikes that I’d planned for us this year. We had originally planned a wildflower hike for this weekend, but they are running at least two weeks behind so we turned to a pair of wildlife hikes instead. Our first stop was at the Snag Boat Bend unit of the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge.
IMG_6046

This 341-acre unit is located a across the Willamette River to the East of the 5,325-acre refuge. The unit has several miles of trails although the amount accessible fluctuates due to flooding.
IMG_6048Not sure how “official” the writing is on the map, but it wasn’t wrong about the Turtle Loop being “closed” (high water).

The Snag Boat Bend Loop Trail begins as a boardwalk that passes over the North Beaver Pond. Oddly there wasn’t much, if any, water in this pond despite other areas later being flooded.
IMG_6050

After the short boardwalk section the trail became a combination of grass/mud as it followed a swollen Lake Creek toward the Willamtte River.
IMG_6053

IMG_6054A swollen Lake Creek

IMG_6056A third of a mile from the trailhead is a picnic table overlooking a former channel of the Willamette River that is now an oxbow lake filled by Lake Creek.

IMG_6058The oxbow lake.

The trail makes a hard left at the picnic table passing along the water.
IMG_6061Lots of water in the lake.

DSCN2912Woodpecker hiding in the trees.

Just under 0.2 miles from the picnic table, during low water, is said to be a path that makes it possible to connect the Snag Boat Band and Turtle Loop Trails.
IMG_6062Note the sign on the far side vs the closer sign barely sticking up out of the water.

A quarter mile from the picnic table the Snag Boat Bend Loop turns left at a junction. We stayed straight and visited the Observation Blind before setting off on the Blue Heron Trail.
IMG_6100Oregon grape

20230422_071830Red flowering currant

IMG_6068Slug

IMG_6100Signs at the junction.

IMG_6071The observation blind.

There wasn’t a whole lot to observe from the blind since the morning fog limited visibility.
IMG_6074

DSCN2924Goose

DSCN2927Spotted towhee

DSCN2928Mallard drake

IMG_6075The Blue Heron Trail followed the boarder of the refuge and some private farmland.

It was approximately another quarter mile from the blind to a 4-way junction. Here the Blue Heron Trail began and finished a theoretical loop using the left most forks and the Turtle Trail split off to the right along a dike.
IMG_6077Blue Heron Trail to the left and Turtle Trail on the right.

We turned right onto the Turtle Trail and as we got onto the dike we could see that the area below, where a loop shown on the Oregonhikers page joined back up, was likely flooded. We followed the dike a quarter of a mile to another junction where the Turtle Trail made a hard right and descended from the dike into an open area where several rabbits were busy having their breakfast.
IMG_6078

IMG_6080

American widgeonAmerican widgeon

IMG_6081

DSCN2949

DSCN2944

We followed this grassy track for a third of a mile back to the swollen Lake Creek where, during low water, the Turtle Loop would turn right along the creek and loop back around.
IMG_6085

IMG_6086Another sign out in the middle of the water.

We turned back and returned to the junction with the Blue Heron Trail.
IMG_6088The start of a possible loop using the Blue Heron Trail. The fainter track on the right heading downhill was flooded just 100 feet or so away.

IMG_6089The flooded area where the loop would end.

I had gone down to the flooded section to see if there was possibly a way across without having to wade but there wasn’t. The good news was that my heading down to this spot had caused a great horned owl to move trees which allowed both Heather (on the other section of the Blue Heron Trail) and myself to spot it.
DSCN2974

Since we knew that we would be able to make the Blue Heron Trail into a loop we followed it a half mile from the junction, making a sharp right near the 0.4-mile mark and decided to turn around. The trail had gone from gravel to wet grass and our feet were getting pretty damp which helped make the decision to turn around.
IMG_6095Cottonwood with red flowering currant, Oregon grape, and Indian plum blooming in front.

IMG_6096We were able to keep our feet dry on the gravel surfaces.

20230422_082100Mushroom

DSCN2984Rufous Hummingbird

DSCN2985Hawk preparing for takeoff.

IMG_6097We had started to go past the turn for the Blue Heron Trail so this photo is as we headed back toward the turn. We came from the right-hand side so the path straight ahead would have been the “sharp right”.

DSCN2987Killdeer

IMG_6098Our turn around spot. The trail was beginning to bend back to the East here.

We headed back along the Blue Heron Trail following it to the Snag Boat Bend Loop where we turned right in order to finish that loop.
DSCN2992A chipping sparrow among the golden-crowned sparrows.

IMG_6101On the Snag Boat Bend Loop

IMG_6103The trail turned left to follow this gravel roadbed for the final third of a mile.

IMG_6106The gate in the distance is at the trailhead.

Our hike at Snag Boat Bend came in at 3.9 miles with maybe 50′ of elevation gain. Had some of the loops not been flooded it might have been a bit shorter.

It was a nice first visit though and we are now interested in returning in late Summer/early Fall when some of the flooded trails might be accessible. While the fog made it a bit hard to see we still managed to see a few ducks, a goose, several rabbits, the owl, a hawk, lots of smaller birds, and one bald eagle that flew overhead. From the trailhead we drove North to the city of Albany where we’d plan to visit a series of the city’s parks. The idea was to start at Monteith Riverpark and hike East along the Willamette River to Simpson Park and then continue along the river there past First and Second Lakes if the trail wasn’t flooded. If it was flooded, we could turn inland at Simpson Park and re-visit the Talking Water Gardens (post).

I had two reasons for putting this urban hike on our schedule. First it was close to home and secondly Monteith Riverfront Park sits at the confluence of the Calapooia and Willamette Rivers, and the Calapooia is one of Oregon’s rivers that we had yet to see on a hike. This 80-mile long tributary of the Willamette begins in the Willamette National Forest near Tidbits Mountain (post) and flows Northwest through Brownsville, OR before turning North to the East of Interstate 5. It was disappointing to arrive and find that the entire park was closed for a large waterfront project by the City of Albany. (Normally I would check the status of our destination prior to heading out, but I didn’t expect an entire city park to be closed, and after looking online when I got home, I’m not sure I would have found the information anyway.)
IMG_6107We wound up parking East of the Riverfront Community Center and hoping on the Dave Clark Trail there.

Less than 100 yards from where we’d parked we came to an observation platform that led out over the Willamette River. From this platform we could at least see the mouth of the Calapooia emptying into the Willamette.
IMG_6109

IMG_6111The confluence ahead to the left.

IMG_6112Highway 20 passing over the Willamette to the left. Fun fact about U.S. Highway 20 – It runs from Newport, OR to Boston, MA and is the longest road in the USA according to the Federal Highway Administration. Click here for more information and an interesting write up of the drive from Boston to Newport by Boots on the Trail.

We followed the Dave Clark Trail East passing under both bridges of the highway and then later under the Union Pacific Railroad.
IMG_6115

IMG_6119Orange crowned warbler. One of many small birds we saw along this trail.

DSCN3009We thought it was a little odd to see two occupied nests atop the railroad so close together until we realized that the occupants weren’t both birds of prey.

DSCN3006Canada geese were using one of the nests.

DSCN3013Might be the mate looking acting as lookout from the bridge.

DSCN3012Osprey occupied the other and appeared to be in the process of renovations.

We also encountered a beautiful male Anna’s hummingbird but for the life of me I couldn’t get either one of the cameras I was carrying to focus on the little guy so the only picture we wound up with was a cropped shot from Heather’s phone.
20230422_095150His bright pink head was more impressive in person.

After ducking under the railroad and passing some apartments the trail passed the Willamette Community Garden and climbed to NE Oak Street.
IMG_6123The community garden (not pictured) was on our right.

IMG_6124

IMG_6128Pretty tulips at the sign.

Here the trail follows several blocks of sidewalk before reaching its end at Bowman Park. The official route of the trail turned right on Oak St for a block then left for 5 blocks NE Water Ave to Geary St where it turned left and descended 3 blocks to Bowman Park. We stayed straight on Front Ave NE though and followed it 3 blocks to Harrison St. NE where we turned right for a block to NE Water Ave to rejoin the Dave Clark Trail.
IMG_6129Not a lot to see in the residential neighborhoods but we did cross Pettyjohn Creek along the way.

IMG_6130Sign for Bowman Park at Geary St.

IMG_6133Bowman Park on the left and the paved path we took on the right.

A paved path led East from Bowman Park behind a new apartment complex where it turned to a wood chip surface.
IMG_6135

IMG_6136

DSCN3018Cormant in the middle of the Willamette.

At the far end of the apartment complex the trail suddenly turned into a slick, muddy single track.
IMG_6137

DSCN3020Squirrel

Things got started getting interesting here, and not in the good way. We quickly started passing vacant and/or abandoned homeless camps and the trail surface was just a mess. At this point we were only about a half mile from the Simpson Park Trailhead though so we pressed on.
IMG_6139Seen near a homeless camp which sort of captures the situation. A combination of unaffordable house, drug abuse, and mental illness has created a crisis up and down the West Coast with no simple (or quick) answer.

IMG_6140We initially mistook all the footprints and bike tracks as a sign that the trail saw good recreational use.

According to the Oregonhikers.org Field Guide entry for the Albany Riverfront Hike there is a concrete bridge over Cox Creek near Simpson Park. We never made it that far though as after a quarter mile we came to small pond over the trail. There was no foreseeable way around and we didn’t want to do to much searching for an alternate route for fear of stumbling upon an occupied camp so we turned around.
IMG_6143

Prior to reaching the impassible puddle we had already decided to forgo trying to hike further along the Willamtte from Simpson Park and had planned instead of visit Talking Water Gardens and return via roads instead of the muddy trail. Now that we’d been stymied though we trudged back through the mud and past the homeless camps to the apartments where we turned left on a path that led a short distance uphill into Eads Park.
IMG_6144

IMG_6145

We turned left and passed through this small park then turned right onto Burkhart St NE and began our second stint of neighborhood hiking. After a block on Burkhart we made a left on Willamette Ave NE and followed it 0.2-miles to its end at the Albany/Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility where we turned right onto Davidson St. NE. A block on Davidson brought us back to Front AVE NE and a sign for the Talking Water Gardens.
IMG_6147

Front Ave became Waverly Dr NE and we followed it until we finally crossed Cox Creek three tenths of a mile later.
IMG_6148

We made our way to the gated entrance to the Talking Water Gardens happy to see that the man-made waterfall in the Beaver Marsh was flowing this time.
IMG_6149

IMG_6150

DSCN3025

DSCN3026Buffleheads

We turned right and headed for the main sign board to get a picture of the map and decide on our route.
20230422_105035We decided to loop around the West Beaver Marsh and Central Oak areas before heading back.

There was obviously a lot more water present now then there had been in November and while there were less ducks present there was a larger variety of birds and best of all a bunch of western pond turtles.
DSCN3030

IMG_6159View from above the waterfall.

IMG_6160The first set of turtles we spotted.

IMG_6162Western pond turtles.

DSCN3041Female red-winged blackbird

DSCN3055Green-winged teal

DSCN3057Yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon’s)

DSCN3060More turtles

DSCN3063Mallard drake

DSCN3064Turkey vulture

IMG_6164

DSCN3070Another bale of turtles. (I had to look up “bale” because I had no idea what a group of turtles was called.)

IMG_6165Another man-made waterfall.

IMG_6168This had been full of ducks on our previous visit.

DSCN3076Yet another turtle.

DSCN3081Black phoebe

DSCN3084Acorn woodpecker

DSCN3091Sparrow

Northern shovelerNorthern shoveler

DSCN3096Hummingbird

20230422_111554Red-winged blackbird

IMG_6180Bench along the Central Oak area.

DSCN3103The first goslings we’ve spotted this year.

DSCN3108Very zoomed in shot of a hawk seen in the distance.

DSCN3123Bullfrog

DSCN3126Marsh wren

DSCN3129Final set of turtles.

DSCN3141Mallard pair

DSCN3149Chickadee

DSCN3152Yellow-rumped warbler (Myrtle)

We took about an hour to hike a little over 1.25-miles through the gardens. There was a lot of stopping to watch the wildlife and attempt to get photos. After exiting the gardens we made our way back to Front Ave via Waverly Drive and this time followed signs for the Dave Clark Trail back to it.
IMG_6192

IMG_6193

We followed the Dave Clark Trail back to our car, but not before spotting a bit more wildlife.
DSCN3157A couple ahead of us on the trail spotted this guy for us.

DSCN3166Squirrel

Our Albany Parks hike wound up being just 6.3 miles with under 100′ of elevation gain bringing our total for the day to 10.2 miles and maybe 100 total feet of elevation gain. All the hiking on paved surfaces in Albany combined with having wet shoes and socks made it feel like more though.

At the end of the day we were glad that we wound up in Talking Water Gardens given how much fun wildlife we spotted there but I probably would not do the rest of this hike over. The Dave Clark Trail along the Willamette was nice enough and if I was in Albany for another reason and had some time it would be a fine place for a stroll but necessary neighborhood walk to reach Simpson Park/Talking Water is not nearly as nice as either simply starting at the Simpson Park Trailhead or hiking along Cox Creek from Waverly Lake as we had done in November. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Snag Boat Bend and Albany Parks

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Willamette Valley

Minto-Brown Island Park Outings Spring 2023

For several years Heather has volunteered with our local running store, Gallagher Fitness Resources, Princess Steps, a Women’s Beginning Walking Running Clinic. They meet on Tuesday nights but have “homework” walks throughout the week which she and I have been doing together. The longer walks are set for Saturdays and for three of the last four weeks we’ve taken those walks at Minto-Brown Island Park. The park has also been part of a couple of urban hikes that we’ve taken in previous years (2017 & 2020).

Despite the numerous visits there were still sections of trails that I hadn’t been on. I decided to use my second day off of work to check a few of those off my to-visit list. Minto-Brown is even closer to our house than Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge which I’d visited the day before (post). In fact, it’s less than a mile away as the crow flies, but it is on the other side of the Willamette River so I had to drive a little over 3.5-miles to Riverfront Park where we’d been starting all of our walks.
DSCN2605

Heather’s plan from the walking group had us increasing distance each week starting with 5.3 miles on 3/19 then 6.6 on 3/25 and 9 miles on 4/8. (Heather wanted more hill practice before the hiking season and since Minto-Brown is mostly flat we did a 7.5 mile “hilly” hike through the West Salem neighborhoods on 4/1.) For this visit I was planning on going a little further again by visiting Eola Bend County Park which borders Minto-Brown to the NW along the Willamette River. I wasn’t sure what my actual route would be though. Minto-Brown is full of both pave and dirt trails, some of which parallel one another just feet apart. Numerous loop options are possible, but closure due to flooding or nesting birds can block access to certain trails at times. All of the visits this year started the same as we first passed the Gerry Frank Salem Rotary Amphitheater in Riverfront Park and took the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge over the Willamette Slough and into Minto-Brown Island Park on the Minto-Island Conservation Trail.
Peter Courtney Bridge behind the Gerry Frank AmphitheaterThe amphitheater and bridge on 3/19 23.

DSCN2607The amphitheater and bridge on 4/14/23.

On the first three visits we took the first paved right (one mile from Riverfront Park) and stayed right at the next junction to walk along the Willamette River and eventually arrive at the Lot 3 Trailhead. On this final visit I was unable to access the path along the river due to high water from recent rains so I forked left on a gravel that is often closed during bald eagle nesting season.
Minto-Brown Island ParkWetland near the bridge on 4/8.

DSCN2613The wetland on 4/14.

Entering Bald Eagle Nesting AreaSigns at the 2nd junction – 3/19.

Minto-Brown Island ParkThe path to the Willamette River on 3/19.

DSCN2640The path on 4/14.

Willamette RiverApril 8th along the Willamette.

DSCN2641April 14th on the inland gravel path.

Beyond Lot 3 is where our visits began to differ. On our first (shortest) visit we continued South from the lot and took the second left (Brown Squirrel & Yellow Duck Loop) looped around the South and East ends of the Dog Park to Lot 2 where we crossed the entrance road and followed the 10k path back to the junction where we had taken our first right that morning. From there we retraced our steps back to Riverfront Park.

For the second hike we continued South from Lot 3 then forked right and crossed Oxbow Slough on a footbridge before turning back after another 0.75-miles at a “T” junction with the Blue Heron, Purple Rabbit, and 10k Trails. We retraced our steps, passing the shared Squirrel & Duck Loop section that we’d taken the previous week turning instead at the next right (We were coming from the opposite direction as the previous week. This was also part of the Yellow Duck Loop and took led us along the North side of the dog park to Lot 2 where we turned left and again followed the 10k path back as we had the week before.

On our third outing we followed our route from the week before to the “T” junction but turned left and continued on the shared Purple Rabbit/10k Loop to return to the junction near the bridge over the slough. This time we returned through Lot 3 taking the right fork of the Red Osprey Loop at the North end of the lot. This loop brought us through an open field with an old cherry orchard to the 10k Loop where we took a left and followed the familiar route back to Riverfront.

My route was most similar to our third outing. It varied in that I had to stay inland instead of hiking along the river and I turned onto the dirt Blue Heron Loop path shortly after crossing the bridge over the slough.
DSCN2629The Minto-Island Conservation Trail (Used during all four hikes.)

Oxbow Slough is accessible near Lot 3.
Slough near the gazeboOxbow slough 3/19.

DSCN2676April 14th

DSCN2678Just South of Lot 3 the paved path is shared by the 10k, Purple Rabbit, Blue Heron, Green Deer, Yellow Duck and Brown Squirrel Loops.

DSCN2682The footbridge over Oxbow Slough is part of the 10k, Blue Heron, and Purple Rabbit Loops.

The Blue Heron Loop ran parallel to the paved path and at times nearly touched.
DSCN2691Blue Heron Loop running parallel to the 10k/Purple Rabbit Loops.

DSCN2701Field along the Blue Heron Loop

The biggest difference, and most of the extra mileage came when I continued straight toward the Brown’s Island Demolition Landfill when the Blue Heron Loop turned left. At the landfill I turned right and followed a gravel roadbed around it to the Orange Turtle Loop onto which I turned right following counterclockwise into Eola Bend County Park.
DSCN2704The “T” junction where the 10k/Purple Rabbit Loops turn left from the Blue Heron Loop.

DSCN2711Most of the junctions are well signed with maps which helped keep me on track.

DSCN2719Willamette River from the Orange Turtle Loop.

IMG_5826Orange Turtle Loop

DSCN2729The boarder between Minto-Brown Island Park and Eola Bend County Park.

DSCN2738A bit of the history of Eola Bend County Park.

DSCN2741Nice map of the Willamette River watershed.

IMG_5827Eola Bend County Park

DSCN2757I took advantage of this picnic table to take a short break.

After completing the Orange Turtle Loop I went back along the landfill (Admittedly one of the least exciting things to experience on a hike.) passing the path I’d arrived at the landfill on and continued just over a tenth of a mile on the gravel road which brought me to the end of a paved road at the landfill.
DSCN2764The landfill behind the map.

DSCN2787Arriving at the road.

I turned left here and in less than a tenth of a mile was back on the Purple Rabbit/10k Loop which uses a 0.3-mile section of the road.
DSCN2790The 10k/Purple Rabbit Loop on the left.

I was now back on the route of our third visit and followed the Purple Rabbit/10k Loop just over a half mile to a junction with the Green Deer Loop, with a short detour to a bench along Oxbow Slough.
DSCN2793

DSCN2799

DSCN2806The Green Deer Loop junction.

I made my one mistake of the day here thinking that I could turn right (we’d gone left the week before) and do this loop. Just over 0.4-miles in though I came upon a small pond in the middle of the trail.
DSCN2821

I backtracked to the Purple Rabbit/10k Loop and again followed our third visit route until coming to the Brown Squirrel/Yellow Duck/10k Loop where I turned right. This was the path we’d taken on our first visit to loop around the dog park. I followed the paved path around the South side of the park but then instead of staying on the trail the loops follow I hoped onto a rougher dirt path that paralleled it and followed that to Lot 2 where I hopped back onto the 10k Loop.
DSCN2830The paved 10k/Yellow Duck/Brown Squirrel Loop.

DSCN2834The rougher dirt path.

DSCN2835The dog park (possibly the happiest place in Salem, at least for dogs).

DSCN2836The 10k Loop on the opposite side of the entrance road from Lot 2.

I deviated once more from our earlier visits when I left the 10k Loop just before it joins the Red Osprey Loop. I crossed that paved path and onto a faint dirt path that led past the Old Cherry Orchard. I followed this dirt path just under a half mile to the paved 5k/10k/Red Osprey/Brown Squirrel Loop where I turned right and climbed a small hill to the Minto Island Conservation Trail.
Minto-Brown Island ParkFrom our 3/19 hike on the 10k Loop. The path running from left to right is the Red Osprey Loop. On this last trip I took the path on the left down to the sign below at the junction and continued straight.

DSCN2842At the sign heading toward the old cherry orchard.

DSCN2843The old cherry orchard.

DSCN2849Sign in the distance along the paved path where I turned right.

I turned left onto the Conservation Trail and returned to Riverfront Park to complete my hike.
DSCN2858

IMG_5829Cherry blossoms.

One constant throughout all of the hikes was the abundant wildlife.
Deer at Minto-Brown Island ParkDeer – 3/19

Bald eagleBald eagle – 3/19

CormorantCormorant on the Willamette – 3/25

SparrowSparrow – 3/25

Lesser goldfinchLesser goldfinch – 4/8

MallardMallard – 4/8

Several wood ducksWood ducks up in a tree – 4/8

Osprey it their nestOsprey – 4/8

DSCN2623Green-winged teal – 4/14

DSCN2624Mallard – 4/14

DSCN2634Golden-crowned sparrow – 4/14

DSCN2635Robin – 4/14

DSCN2636White-crowned sparrow – 4/14

DSCN2648Squirrel – 4/14

DSCN2653Rabbit – 4/14 (This was one of several dozen bunnies that I encountered on this day.)

DSCN2658Woodpecker – 4/14

Lot 3 also had its share of wildlife.
Scrub jayScrub jay – 3/19

Mourning doveDove – 4/8

DSCN2663Killdeer – 4/14

DSCN2671Red breasted sapsuckers – 4/14 (Males peck the sign to make noise to either attract mates or establish territory.)

Pied billed grebePied billed grebe in Oxbow Slough – 3/19

Ring-necked ducksRing-necked ducks from the bridge over Oxbow Slough – 3/25

BuffleheadsBuffleheads from the bridge over Oxbow Slough – 3/25

DSCN2683Geese from the bridge over Oxbow Slough – 3/25

DSCN2699Hummingbird along the Blue Heron Trail – 4/14

DSCN2707Orange-crowned warbler along the Blue Heron Trail – 4/14

DSCN2744Dark-eyed junco at Eola Bend County Park – 4/14

DSCN2748Northern flicker at Eola Bend County Park – 4/14

DSCN2760Swallows at Eola Bend County Park – 4/14

DSCN2777Red-tailed hawk near the landfill – 4/14

DSCN2795Great blue heron at Oxbow Slough across from the bench viewpoint near Lot 4 (Homestead Road) – 4/14

Wood duck maleWood duck drake in Oxbow Slough – 4/8

Ruby-crowned kingletRuby-crowned kinglet – 4/8

RabbitRabbit – 4/8

EgretEgret between the Red Osprey and 10k Loops – 4/8

DSCN2850Turkey vulture near the old cherry orchard – 4/14

We’re lucky to have this park nearby and it seems crazy that we still haven’t checked out all of the trails yet. It at least gives us a reason, besides the abundant wildlife, to keep going back. That being said we are really looking forward to some more remote hiking in quieter forests. Happy Trails!

Yellow-3/19
Black-3/25
Red-4/8
Cyan-4/14

Flickr: Minto Brown Walks / Minto Brown and Eola Bend County Park

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Spring Valley Greenway – 09/10/2022

September has always been a bit tricky for planning hikes. Historically it seemed there was always at least one weekend where snow returned to the mountains while other weekends might see rain or 90 degree temperatures. In recent years extreme wildfire behavior has entered into the mix resulting in some devastating fires and some very unhealthy air quality as was the case with the Labor Day fires in 2020. A rare east wind event that year caused a number of wildfires to explode.

A similar, but not nearly as strong, wind event was forecast for Friday & Saturday which coincided with our third attempt at using a Central Cascade Overnight Wilderness Permit. We had planned on trying to reach Goat Peak in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness after having failed to do so in September 2018 (post) but the combination of extreme fire danger and forecast for wide spread smoke resulted in our once again deciding not to utilize the permit we’d obtained. (An early snowstorm in 2021 and thunderstorms in July of this year were the reasons we’d changed our permit plans.)

We were still hoping to sneak some sort of hike in so I started looking for another idea. We didn’t want to go too far from home due to the potential for fast spreading fires but at the same time the Saturday forecast for Salem was a high in the mid-90’s and widespread haze/smoke. I turned to the Oregon Hikers Field Guide for inspiration and noticed the Spring Valley Loop in the Willamette Valley State Parks section. It was less than a 20 minute drive from home and at less than four miles would allow us to be done hiking by mid-morning and avoid the warmer part of the day.

Prior to leaving in the morning I checked up on a fire that had started the day before in South Salem along Vitae Springs Road and stuck my head outside to see if the air smelled of smoke. Everything seemed okay so we proceeded to get ready and headed out at about a quarter to 7am. While the air didn’t smell of smoke the sky had a familiar hauntingly orange hue to it. As we prepared to set off on the first of three short loops from the Spring Valley Trailhead we remarked at how dark it still was due to the layer of smoke overhead. (The majority of the smoke was likely from the Cedar Creek Fire near Waldo Lake (post) which had grown rapidly overnight toward Oakridge and Westfir prompting evacuations although there was also a new fire to the NE at Milo McIver State Park (post).)
IMG_1415

For the first loop we walked back up the park entrance road approximately 400 feet to the Rook Trail on the left.
IMG_1418

IMG_1419

IMG_1421

We followed this trail as it wound through the woods for nearly a mile before ending at the entrance road a short way from Highway 221 (Wallace Rd NW).
IMG_1426The combination of low light and orange hue made for some poor photography conditions.

IMG_1432

IMG_1440Approaching the entrance road. The gate is for the road which is only open during daylight hours.

We turned right onto the road and followed it for a tenth of a mile to the unsigned Generator Trail (there was some pink flagging present) and took a left onto this one-way trail.
IMG_1447

IMG_1449The Generator Trail.

The 0.4 mile Generator Trail brought us back down to the entrance road between the trailhead and where we had turned onto the Rook Trail.
IMG_1452

IMG_1460

IMG_1461

As we followed the road back to the trailhead we were discussing which loop to try next. That decision was made by the couple having an intimate moment in the back of a pickup parked at the start of the Perimeter Trail. We turned right, away from the show, and cut across the mowed field surrounding the vault toilet to pick up the also unsigned Upper Spring Valley Trail.
IMG_1462

IMG_1466Spring Valley Creek passing under the entrance road.

IMG_1467The mowed field.

IMG_1472Upper Spring Valley Creek Trail.

The 0.7 mile Upper Spring Valley Creek Trail simply loops back to the trailhead so we hopped that by the time we had finished the short loop the couple was finished as well.
IMG_1474

IMG_1475A few Autumn colors starting to show, now we just need some Fall rain.

IMG_1476Brief glimpse of the Willamette River.

IMG_1477The tailgate was up on the pickup, a good sign for us.

IMG_1478Some of the various non-native wildflowers in the area.

Before setting off on the Perimeter Trail we decided to make the quick detour down to the Willamette.
IMG_1479

IMG_1480Mile 74.2 of the Willamette Water Trail.

We didn’t quite make it to the river though as the couple had apparently decided to switch locations, but at least they were taking turns. We made a hasty retreat and set off on the Perimeter Trail.
IMG_1484The Perimeter Trail begins to the right of the gate.

The Perimeter Trail loops around another mowed field but after 0.2 miles the signed TCC Trail splits off to the right into the woods (assuming you are hiking counter-clockwise).
IMG_1485

IMG_1487Invasive common tansy but the beetle was cool looking.

IMG_1488We were initially fooled by this side-trail at the 0.1 mile mark which was not the TCC Trail, but did provide access to the Willamette.
IMG_1491Willamette Mission State Park (post) is located on the opposite side down river.

IMG_1490

IMG_1494There’s the TCC Trail.

After just a tenth of a mile on the TCC Trail it appeared that we were going to be led right back out to the field but the TCC Trail made a hard right and stayed in the woods for an additional four tenths of a mile.
IMG_1496

IMG_1498

IMG_1500Back to the field after half a mile.

At the field we turned right onto what in theory was the Perimeter Trail following it another 0.4 miles back to the trailhead.
IMG_1501

Canada thistleInvasive Canadad thistle.

IMG_1504Common toadflax – non-native.

IMG_1505Moth mullein – you guessed it, non-native.

IMG_1506The Sun behind a layer of smoke.

IMG_1509Pigeons (or doves) in a snag.

The three loops came to a grand total of 3.5 miles with a little over 200′ of elevation gain.

While the conditions weren’t ideal there was a cool (mostly) breeze and it never smelt like smoke. Early Spring would be a much better time to visit or maybe a little later once more of the leaves have had time to change color but given the circumstances it was a suitable destination. It was nice to find another option so close to home too. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Spring Valley Greenway

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Willamette Valley

Luckiamute Landing and Wetlands – 06/26/2021

With a record setting heat wave arriving just in time for the weekend we changed our hiking plans and looked for something close to home and on the shorter side so that we could get a hike in before the temperatures got too ridiculous. A pair of hikes at the Luckiamute Landing State Natural Area matched that criteria and would be new hikes to us. A mere 30 minute drive from our house we were able to reach the first of the two trailheads, the Luckiamute Landing Trailhead by 5:15am. (We actually parked in a pullout 0.4 miles from the trailhead which I blame on not being fully awake yet.)
IMG_9011Private farm along the entrance road from the pullout we parked at.

IMG_9012Osprey nest above the corn field.

IMG_9013Gated road at the trailhead. There was a second gravel road to the right that was blocked with a log. The gravel road appeared to be fairly new and possibly a reroute of the gated road.

We walked around the gate and followed the dirt road a tenth of a mile to what must have once been the trailhead. The road passed near the Luckiamute River and it looked as though the river had been eroding the the embankment under the road which might explain why the trailhead was moved and the newer gravel road.
IMG_9014

IMG_9015

IMG_9016

IMG_9017Old trailhead?

A loop started at the signboard here.
IMG_9018

We stayed straight and continued following the road which never approached the Luckiamute again.
<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51272635683_b6a46b64cb_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_9020">

The road soon skirted the edge of a large field where a cat was in the middle on a morning hunt.
IMG_9022

IMG_9024Extreme zoom on the kitty.

There was also a coyote out in the field but it disappeared into the grasses too quickly for even a poor photo. We continued on toward the Sun that would soon be scorching the Northwest and away from the Moon and the cool of night.
IMG_9031

IMG_9028

IMG_9029

On our right was the open field but on the left was a wall of vegetation including some ripe thimbleberries which are Heather’s favorites.
IMG_9032Wild rose

IMG_9039Vetch

IMG_9043Oregon grape

20210626_054759Thimbleberry

A finch appeared to be doing some sort of dance in the road.
IMG_9044

IMG_9045

A half mile after starting the loop we came to spur trail to the left with a hiker symbol for an interpretive sign. We of course took the bait and followed the path 50 yards to the sign at the end of the spur.
IMG_9051

IMG_9053

After reading the sign we returned to the loop and continued to the end of the field.
IMG_9056We both initially thought that this was the start of an out and back to campsites along the Willamette River and that the loop continued around the field to the right. In fact there was a blue awning set up at the edge of the field in that direction and at least 3 vehicles (not sure why they were there or how they got through the gate). This was not the case and fortunately for us we were planning on doing the out and back which meant we didn’t make the mistake of turning here. The continuation of the loop was actually 0.2 miles further along the road in the forest.
IMG_9060The correct right turn for the loop.

We ignored the loop for now continuing on the road through a mixed forest.
IMG_9062

IMG_9063Cottonwood on the road.

IMG_9059Red elderberry, a favorite of the birds.

IMG_9066This wren was taking a dirt bath, perhaps an attempt to stay cool?

IMG_9067A lot of invasive daisies in an opening.

IMG_9073Native elegant brodiaea

IMG_9074Egg shell

IMG_9077

IMG_9078More ripe berries.

The road curved to the north as it neared the Willamette and led to an open flat with a couple of picnic tables and campsites for boaters traveling the 187 mile long Willamette Water Trail.
IMG_9085

IMG_9080Poppies

IMG_9086Mostly non-natives – chicory and clovers.

IMG_9088More non-natives – Moth mullein and cultivated radish

IMG_9083Slug

IMG_9089Douglas spirea (native)

Beyond the campsites a narrow use trail led to a view across the Willamette River to the Santiam River as it joined the Willamette.
IMG_9091

IMG_9092The mouth of the Luckiamute on the left was hidden by trees.

I tried following the use trail to the Luckiamute but it ended (or at least my attempt did) in thick vegetation.
IMG_9096

We returned to the campsites and followed a path down to the river landing.
IMG_9101

IMG_9100

IMG_9099

IMG_9109

To be honest neither of us had heard of the Willamette Water Trail until then but it was interesting to learn of its existence.
IMG_9105Willamette River at the landing.

IMG_9104Not sure what type of birds these were.

IMG_9102Bindweed at the landing.

We headed back along the road, which was still busy with wildlife, and then turned left to continue the loop when we reached that junction.
IMG_9112Bunny and a bird (not pictured is the chipmunk that raced across the road here).

IMG_9114Slug also “racing” across the road. Speed is relative.

IMG_9116Back on the loop.

Instead of skirting the filed this portion of the loop stayed in the “gallery forest”, a narrow strip of trees that grows along a waterway in an open landscape. (Learned that term from an interpretive sign along this section.)
IMG_9119

IMG_9122

IMG_9124

IMG_9150Near the end of the loop the trail passed back along the field.

IMG_9141White crowned sparrow

IMG_9147Possibly nelson’s checkermallow.

IMG_9149Meadow checkermallow

IMG_9155Completing the loop.

IMG_9156Lupine that is just about finished.

Before we headed back to the car we followed a path on the other side of the road a tenth of a mile to the Luckiamute River.
IMG_9159Old bus

IMG_9163Tree frog

IMG_9165Luckiamute River

IMG_9166

After visiting this river we hiked back to our car via the newer gravel road. One of the osprey had just left the nest to presumably find some food when it came back into view.
IMG_9173Waiting for food.

Our hike here came to 5.5 miles. Had we parked at the actual trailhead and not taken all of the side trails it would have been between 4.5 and 5 miles and if they reopen the road to the old trailhead the hike would be approximately 4 miles.

From the pullout we’d parked in we returned to Buena Vista Road and turned left (south) for a mile to the South Luckiamute Trailhead.
IMG_9236

This was supposed to be a 1.1 mile out and back to visit the West Pond where we might just spot a western pond turtle. We followed a gravel path south for 0.2 miles before it turning east at the edge of the park boundary.
IMG_9176

An old road bed dipped down to a flower filled field which it skirted eventually curving north and arriving at West Pond after half a mile. (West Pond is an old gravel pit.)
<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51272439201_2ff86c4837_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_9182">

IMG_9183Old farm equipment with poison oak in the background.

IMG_9184One of several birdhouses along the road.

You can go down to the pond at the south end but a couple had just headed down there in front of us so we decided to keep going and possibly visit that spot on the way back. The turtles, if we were to spot any, are primarily located at the northern end of the pond and we had left our binoculars in the cars so spotting them from the southern end wasn’t likely anyway.
IMG_9187

IMG_9190North end of the pond.

Except for the southern end the area around the pond is closed for turtle habitat.
IMG_9192

IMG_9195

There was a good view of the pond from the road at the north end though. Unfortunately we didn’t spot any turtles although there were a couple of disruptions in the water that very well could have been their work. We did however see a few birds.
IMG_9198We are both pretty sure a turtle swam off from this area when we came into view.

IMG_9193Spotted towhee

IMG_9204Swallow

The entry on the Oregonhikers.org field guide showed the trail extending a bit to the north of the pond before ending which is why we had planned for a 1.1 mile out and back. The field guide did mention future plans to expand the trail network here though. We continued north along the road which turned into more of a grassy track but it never petered out. Instead it curved west then south wrapping around the field eventually leading back to the roadbed near where it had dropped to the field.
IMG_9209

IMG_9210European centaury

IMG_9211

IMG_9213

IMG_9215

IMG_9218Oyster plant

IMG_9221Creeping jenny

IMG_9222Arrowleaf clover

IMG_9223Scrub jay

IMG_9224Corn Chamomile

IMG_9226Northern flicker

IMG_9229Great blue heron

IMG_9234American kestral

After completing this unexpected loop we returned to our car. The hike here came in at 1.9 miles, still short but quite a bit further than the 1.1 miles we expected. We finished just before 9am but it was already in the high-70’s. The plan had worked though, we’d managed to get 7.4 miles of hiking in before 9am and were back home with the A/C on by 9:30am. During our hike we discussed the very real possibility that these types of heat waves will become more and more common in the future and pondered what that would look like. Something to think about and be prepared for but for now we’d had a nice morning on the trails and found a new local option to revisit. Happy Trails!

Top track – Luckiamute Landing
Lower track – Luckiamute Wetlands

Flickr: Luckiamute Landing and Wetlands

Categories
Hiking Oregon Portland Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Tualatin HIlls Nature Park, Tualatin River NWR, and Willamette Mission State Park

For our March outing we decided to stick relatively close to home and visit three nearby hikeable areas. Our first stop, and furthest from Salem at just under an hour away, was at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park in Beaverton.

We started from the large parking lot at the Tualatin Hills Nature Center on SW Millikan Way.
Tualatin Hills Nature Center

The Nature Center is currently open from 8:30am-5pm M-F and 9am-5pm Sat. & Sun. while the park itself is open everyday from dawn to dusk. We arrived at dawn and set off on the paved Vine Maple Trail between the Nature Center and restrooms.
Vine Maple Trail

We quickly turned right onto the signed Oak Trail which was also paved.
Oak Trail

In a third of a mile we detoured briefly at a sign for the Tadpole Ponds.
Tadpole Pond

Although we didn’t see any tadpoles, or other wildlife here, the sounds of birds had not stopped all morning so we knew there were plenty of animals around. We returned to the Oak Trail which passed by Cattail Marsh on the second of three boardwalks.
Oak Trail

Cattail Marsh

Beyond the marsh we soon came to the third boardwalk which crossed over Cedar Mill Creek.
Boardwalk and viewing platforms along the Oak Trail

Cedar Mill Creek

One of the many birds that we’d been listening to was kind enough to pose for a moment as we stood on the boardwalk.
Sparrow

On the far side of the boardwalk was a trail junction where the Oak Trail veered right to the Merlo Rd/158th Ave Max light rail station. To the left was the Old Wagon Trail, a dirt path closed to bikes.
Old Wagon Trail

We followed this trail through a forest that was starting to show signs of Spring for a third of a mile to a junction with the Mink Path.
Old Wagon Trail

Blossoms along the Old Wagon Trail

Old Wagon Trail

Old Wagon Trail junction with the Mink PathTrail pointer at the Mink Path junction. We appreciated the fact that all of the junctions were signed and those signs were easy to read but placed in such a way that they were unobtrusive.

The Mink Path is a .1 mile connector between the Old Wagon Trail and Vine Maple Trail allowing for a shorter loop back to the Nature Center. We opted to stay on the Old Wagon Trail though and continued to the start of another boardwalk where we stopped so I could try and take a photo of a robin that was hopping around on the trail. As I was working on getting a picture Heather spotted a deer just a bit off the trail.
Deer along the Old Wagon Trail (there really is one out ther)Can you see the deer?

I thought she was seeing things but then I noticed it move.
Doe along the Old Wagon Trail (again it is there)How about now?

She turned and watched us as I attempted to get the camera to focus on her and not the branches in the foreground.
Doe in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park

Not far from the deer we spotted a squirrel trying to become one with a limb.
Squirrel

At a “Y” in the boardwalk we veered left keeping on the Old Wagon Trail until we reached a junction with the Vine Maple Trail a total of .4 miles beyond the Mink Path junction. We turned left onto the Vine Maple Trail and then took a right at a pointer for the Lily Pond.

A short path led down to the pond but before we had reached it a pair of wood ducks took flight and landed in a nearby tree.
Wood Ducks

As we were admiring the wood ducks a pileated woodpecker was busy with its breakfast.
Pileated woodpecker

We eventually made it down to the pond where a few ducks remained in the water including what appeared to be a pair of gadwalls.
Interpretive sign at the Lily Pond

Lily Pond

Gadwalls

There were also signs of beaver activity but we’ve yet to actually see one in the wild.
Beaver work

After visiting the pond we returned to the Vine Maple Trail which was now paved and followed it past its junction with the Mink Path and across Cedar Mill Creek.
Vine Maple Trail

Vine Maple Trail crossing Cedar Mill Creek

Shortly after crossing the creek we faced another choice. The Nature Center lay a third of a mile away via the Vine Maple Trail but more loop options were available by taking the Elliot Path.
Trail sign in the Tualatin Hills Nature Park

We took the .1 mile Elliot Path to a “T” shaped junction with the Big Fir Trail. Here again was a choice. Left headed back toward the Nature Center while right would take us to the Chickadee and Ash Loops and a short spur to Big Pond. We headed right and then turned left onto the spur to Big Pond.
Big Pond

Big Pond

There were plenty of ducks here as well. It appeared that most were mallards and green-winged teals.
Mallard and Green-winged teals

We returned to the Big Fir Trail and continued on crossing Beaverton Creek before arriving at a four way junction.
Beaverton CreekBeaverton Creek

More choices! The Big Fir Trail kept straight while the Chickadee Loop was to the right and the Ash Loop to the left. We began by heading right on the quarter mile Chickadee Loop which had a nice long section of boardwalk.
Chickadee Loop

After the quarter mile we were back at the Big Fir Trail where we turned right briefly before making a left onto the Ash Loop. The Ash Loop passed some wetlands where a pair of Canada Geese were enjoying the morning.
Wetlands along the Ash Loop

Canada geese

After .3 miles on the Ash Loop we found ourselves back at the four way junction where we turned right and recrossed Beaverton Creek and returned to the junction with the Elliot Path. Staying straight on the Big Fir Trail for just .05 miles we then turned right onto the .2 mile Trillium Loop. Oddly we didn’t see many of signs of trilliums along this short loop but we had seen several beginning to bloom along other trails. After completing the Trillium Loop we turned right again onto the Big Fir Trail for another .1 miles to the start of the half mile Ponderosa Loop.

We took the Ponderosa Loop where we spotted more trillium and our first wood violets of the year.
Trillium

Wood violet

At the end of the Ponderosa Loop we were once again turning right onto the Big Fir Trail. This time it was for less than a tenth of mile and then we were back at the Vine Maple Trail. Several spotted towhees and a couple of chickadees were foraging near this junction. The chickadees wouldn’t sit still but the towhees were a little more cooperative.
Spotted towhee

Spotted towhee

A right turn onto the Vine Maple Trail followed by another .2 miles of hiking brought us back to the parking lot at the Nature Center. The total distance for our hike with all the extra loops was still just 4.2 miles. When we had arrived we were only the second car but the lot was now full as it was just a bit after 9am. We had passed the first volunteer led tour as we were finishing up the along the Ponderosa Trail and another group was preparing to set off shortly.

One of the reasons we had chosen to start our day with this hike was that we knew the park would get busy as the morning progressed which isn’t a bad thing but we always prefer to avoid the crowds when possible. It really was a first rate park though so the popularity is warranted.

We left the nature park and headed for our next stop, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. I’d found this hike in the Oregon Hikers Field Guide and decided to give it a try.

We parked at the Visitor Center along Highway 99W. The majority of hikeable paths in the refuge are closed from October 1st trough April 30th but the one mile River Trail and the very short Ridge Trail are open year round so we made those the target of this visit.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge Trailhead

We set off on the River Trail and immediately spotted a hummingbird perched atop a tree.
River Trail

Hummingbird

The trail led downhill between a pair of small ponds.
Tualatin River Natioal Wildlife Refuge

The trail passes through a restored oak savannah before arriving at an observation deck above the Tualatin River a half mile from the parking lot.
River Trail

Viewing Deck along the River Trail

Tualatin River

Beyond the deck the trail continues briefly though the restored savannah before entering a forest.
River Trail

The trail splits in the trees with the Ridge Trail leading left to a viewpoint and the River Trail continuing right to the Wetlands Observation Deck.
River Trail junction with the Ridgetop Trail

We stayed right visiting the observation deck first.
Wetlands observation deck

View from the Wetlands Observation Deck

There were a few geese and ducks visible in the distance and a few robins closer by.
Canada geese in the wetlands

Robin

We returned to the junction with the Ridge Trail and turned right onto it to climb to the viewpoint. The Visitor Center was visible across the refuge and a number of ducks and other birds could be seen in the water below. At least some of the ducks looked to be northern shovelers.
RIdgetop Trail

View from the Ridgetop Overlook

Northern Shovelers

We returned to the parking lot after an easy 2.1 mile hike. We plan on returning in the future when the other trails are open to explore more of the refuge and check out the Visitor Center.

We left the refuge and headed south toward our last stop of the day at Willamette Mission State Park.

The site of the former Willamette Mission the 1600 acre park offers a number of activities besides hiking. The mission was established in 1834 by Rev. Jason Lee and marked the first organized religious enterprise in Oregon.

We had originally intended on a 2.7 mile hike here as described by William L. Sullivan in his “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” 3rd edition guidebook. Heather had put the book in her pack for the Tualatin Hills Nature Park hike as it was also featured in the guidebook. We hadn’t taken it back out of her pack so we weren’t exactly sure where we were supposed to park for the described hike so after paying the $5 day use fee at the entrance booth we immediately turned right into a parking area with a hiker symbol.

The lot serves as a trailhead for the Willamette Vision Education Trail, which was not where our book called for us to start but we were already parked so we decided to improvise.
Willamette Mission State Park Trailhead

We followed a bark path .1 miles to the start of a loop where we turned right.
Willamette Vision Educational Trail

Interpretive sign along the Willamette Vision Educational Trail

The trail followed a road bed for half a mile around a field before arriving at Mission Lake. Along the way we spotted a coyote that quickly disappeared back into the vegetation.
Mission Lake

A little over a mile from the trailhead we arrived at the nations largest black cottonwood.
Willamette Mission Cottonwood

Interpretive sign for the Willamette Mission Cottonwood

While we were admiring the tree an osprey landed in it and while we were watching the osprey we noticed a squirrel in the upper branches as well.
Osprey in the Willamette Mission Cottonwood

Squirrel in the Willamette Mission Cottonwood

Osprey and a squirrel sharing the Willamette Mission CottonwoodThe osprey and the squirrel (upper right hand corner).

A short distance from the cottonwood the loop crossed the park entrance road. In order to do the hike that we had originally intended to do we turned right and walked along the shoulder of the road for a quarter of a mile to a boat launch and pet exercise area where we picked up the Mission Trail.
Mission Trail

The Mission Trail followed the bank of Mission Lake for .6 miles to the Mission View Site, an observation deck looking across the lake to the site of the former mission.
Mission Trail

Mission Site viewing platform

Marker for the Willamette Mission

The former Mission Site across Mission Lake

We continued on past the Mission Site for another quarter mile before arriving at a the end of the Mission Trail at a paved bike path. We turned right detouring a quarter mile off the loop to visit the Wheatland Ferry crossing on the Willamette River.
Wheatland Ferry

After watching the ferry cross once we headed back along the bike path and followed it along the Willamette River for almost a mile and a half before veering right onto an equestrian trail. Although the bike path paralleled the river there were no real views to speak of due to a strip of trees and vegetation between the path and the water.
Bike path in Willamette Mission State Park

Bike path in Willamette Mission State Park

We opted to follow the multi-use dirt path instead of the paved bike path since pavement seems to be a lot harder on the feet. Despite being a bit muddy in spots the equestrian trail did finally provide a nice view up and down the Willamette.
Equestrian trail in Willamette Mission State Park

Willamette River

Willamette River

Just prior to reaching the high water channel the equestrian trail came near to the bike path. Staying on the equestrian trail would have taken us to the start of a three mile loop with no opportunity to get back to our car so we hopped back onto the bike path here.
Equestrian trail and the bike path in Willamette Mission State Park

We then followed the bike path back to the park entrance road.
Willamette Mission State Park

On our way back to the car we did complete the Willamette Vision Education Trail loop but that final 1.4 mile segment was fairly uneventful. The trail loops around a field with views back toward the center of the park. By that time we were passing the 13 mile mark for the day (we had planned on doing 9.2) and I was more focused on my feet than taking pictures. Not only had we started at the wrong spot but the guidebook would have had us cut out some of the bike path and all of the equestrian trail. Instead of 2.7 miles for this stop we had flipped the numbers and done 7.2.

We enjoyed all three stops but the Tualatin Hills Nature Park was definitely our favorite. With that being said they all would be suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities and each offers something unique. We’re lucky to have so many options within an hour of Salem and there are many more that we have yet to visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tualatin Hills NP, Tualatin River NWR, Willamette Mission SP

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Salem Parks – Wallace Marine to Minto-Brown Island

With an influx of visitors expected in Oregon for the eclipse we decided to do something a little different for our most recent hike.  Heeding warnings of possible traffic issues (which never seemed to have materialized) we stayed close to home opting for a urban hike through three city parks in Salem.

We had gotten the idea for this urban hike when the opening of the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bicycle and Pedestrian Brdige on June 5th, 2017 made it possible to walk or bike through Wallace Marine, Riverfront, and Minto-Brown Island Parks without having to use any streets. Given the unknowns associated with the eclipse this seemed like the perfect time to try it out.

We began our hike at West Salem’s Wallace Marine Park.
IMG_7099

After entering the 114 acre park we turned left (north) and headed for the softball complex which consists of 5 fields that host several tournaments each year.
IMG_7100

IMG_7101

We looped around the fields which were empty this early it morning. No games meant no crowds but that didn’t mean there was a lack of noise. Osprey use the light poles for nests and they were making their presence known from their high perches.
IMG_7102

IMG_7111

After looping around the fields we headed south past the parks entrance road and several soccer fields.
IMG_7116

IMG_7117

Shortly before reaching the Union Street Railroad Pedestrian Bridge we turned left down a paved path to the Willamette River.
IMG_7118

IMG_7119

IMG_7124

IMG_7125

After visiting the river we headed for the pedestrian bridge.
IMG_7130

Originally constructed in 1912-13 for the Pacific Union Railroad the half mile bridge was purchased for $1 by the city in 2004. In April, 2009 the bridge was reopened to pedestrians and bicyclists connecting Wallace Marine Park to Salem’s Riverfront Park.
IMG_7136

IMG_7137

After crossing the river we turned right and headed into Riverfront Park. The section of sidewalk just after the bridge was one of the least scenic portions of the route as it followed the parks entrance road past an electrical station and under the Center and Marion Street Bridges.
IMG_7143

IMG_7144

Between the Marion Street and Center Street Bridges is the Gilbert House Children’s Museum.

This science and art museum is a great place for kids and fun for their parents.
IMG_7145

IMG_7147

We chose to go around the museum on the left which took us between the museum and some still operational railroad tracks. If you’re looking for scenery skip this section and stay to the west of the museum which keeps the river in view.

After passing a parking lot we came to the open green grass of Riverfront Park.
IMG_7152

A music event was being set up in the center of the 23 acre park.
IMG_7153

The park is also home to the Willamette Queen Sternwheeler
IMG_7151

IMG_7155

IMG_7156

Riverfront Park was the location of the field sessions when Heather and I took the Route-Finding Class offered by the Chemeketans.

We passed the small open air amphitheater, which is slated for an upgrade in 2020, and continued south toward the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge.
IMG_7159

IMG_7162

IMG_7164

Another park feature, the Eco-Earth Globe, sits near the bridge and is an interesting bit of art.
IMG_7165

We headed across the bridge and into Minto-Brown Island Park.
IMG_7166

IMG_7168

IMG_7169

Interpretive signs line the new section of trail linking the bridge to the older trail system in the park after approximately 3/4 of a mile.
IMG_7176

IMG_7175

IMG_7186

At the junction with the older trail is a large signboard and map.
IMG_7193

By far the largest of the three parks, at 1,200 acres, numerous trails and loop options were available to us. We had done a short loop hike here in April of 2016 but this time planned on covering a bit more ground.

We turned right at the map and followed paved paths to the bank of the Willamette River.
IMG_7195

IMG_7198

IMG_7201

IMG_7203

IMG_7204

Signage along the trails is excellent and makes it fairly easy to get around even if you aren’t familiar with the park. We were headed for the Shelter Parking Lot, where we had started our 2016 visit.
IMG_7212

IMG_7211

We had been passed by several familiar faces running with groups from Gallagher Fitness Resources but when we arrived at their watering hold near the gazebo at the Shelter Parking lot there were none to be seen in the area.
IMG_7215

IMG_7214

We continued on from the gazebo following our route from our previous visit by forking right across at footbridge after a tenth of a mile.
IMG_7218

IMG_7217

After another .4 miles we detoured to the left to visit a collapsing fishing dock.
IMG_7220

We continued on passing an open field before turning off the paved path on a wide dirt path to the left which led us to Faragate Ave.
IMG_7221

IMG_7223

IMG_7226

At Faragate Ave we turned left on a paved path which paralleled the road for a short distance before bending back into the park.
IMG_7227

IMG_7229

After crossing another footbridge we turned right on a narrow dirt path.
IMG_7230

IMG_7231

IMG_7232

This path led about a quarter mile to another paved path where we initially turned right hoping to make a wide loop on another dirt path. We took a left on a little path after a tenth of a mile but it was rather brushy with blackberry vines and some poison oak so we quickly scrapped that idea and returned to the paved path which runs between the east end of Homestead Road and the Shelter Parking Lot #3. This section of trail is a bit drier and more open which allows for a few more flowers as well as little more poison oak.
IMG_7243

IMG_7234

IMG_7241

IMG_7245

IMG_7247

IMG_7248

There is also an old car along the way.
IMG_7249

We were on our way back, but before reaching the gazebo we turned right on the Duck Loop which would swing us out and around some duck ponds.
IMG_7252

IMG_7256

IMG_7257

IMG_7259

IMG_7260

We crossed the park’s entrance road after .9 miles and turned right along it to the Entrance Parking Lot which we found to be super busy. We followed a paved path from the far end of the lot across the Willamette Slough and turned right on another paved path.
IMG_7261

We completed our loop through Minto and headed back toward Riverfront Park.
IMG_7264

IMG_7265

We took a different route back through Riverfront Park in order to go by Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, another great attraction for kids.
IMG_7266

According to our GPS we managed to get 12.4 miles in for the day and there were still trails in Minto that we didn’t get to. Even though urban hikes are a lot different than our normal outings this was a nice hike and gives us a nearby go-to option when we just can’t get away. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Wallace to Minto Parks

Categories
Hiking Oregon Salem/Albany Trip report Willamette Valley

Champoeg Heritage Area

Since 2010 we have been closing out the year by taking our final hike along the coast or in the coastal mountain range, but this year that streak came to an end. Recent storms and heavy rains that damaged roads and left creeks and rivers swollen caused us to rethink our original plan to visit Fort Clatsop near Astoria Oregon. Instead we decided to put our fallback hike into play and visit Champoeg State Park.

Champoeg State Park is located along the Willamette River less than a ten minute drive from Interstate 5 at the Donald exit between Portland and Salem. The 622 acre park is at the site where Oregon’s first provisional government was formed by vote in 1843. On May 2nd of that year 100 men arrived at the Hudson’s Bay store to decide if they would form an American style government or stay aligned with Britain. The group consisted of Americans,¬†Britons, and French-Canadians. The vote was initially tied 50/50, but two undecided French-Canadians eventually chose to vote with the Americans breaking the tie.

By 1860 Champoeg consisted of 200 buildings but in December of 1861 the river flooded when it rose by 55 feet and effectively wiped out the townsite. No lives were lost in the flood but it marked the end of the bustling town.

We parked in the Riverside Parking area located at the northeast end of the park planning on starting our hike on the .5 mile riverside loop.
Champoeg Heritage Area Trailhead The recent rains had left the park a bit waterlogged and we found portions of the trail underwater. IMG_2733

IMG_2734 We made our way around this first obstacle and climbed a small hill to the Pioneer Memorial Building. Champoeg Pioneer Memorial Building

A 1901 memorial commemorating the 1843 vote sits in front of the building.
IMG_2738 We set off on the Riverside Loop next to a muddy and swollen Willamette River. IMG_2745

IMG_2743 The loop wasn’t possible on this day due to several flood portions, but we walked the portions that were accessible. Flooded trail in Champoeg State Park

We returned to the memorial and headed west on the Townsite Trail, a 1.5 mile barkdust path that led to the Park’s campground.
IMG_2754 IMG_2756

Townsite Trail We followed the path to a backed up Champoeg Creek and crossed on the road bridge leading to the campground. IMG_2763

IMG_2765 From the campground a paved bike path leads 2.4 miles to the Historic Butteville Store. Established in 1863 it the oldest operating store in the State although it closes in the winter. IMG_2766

Two short hiker only side trails split from the bike path near the far end of the campground.
IMG_2769 The first led to the grave site of Kitty Newell while the other was the short .4 mile Nature Trail Loop. IMG_2771

The bike path was clear of water and we followed it along the Willamette. Houses lined the far side of the river, but on our side was a mossy forest.
IMG_2778 IMG_2781

The final .6 miles to the store require some road walking, first along narrow Schuler Rd then downhill on what was a busy Butteville Rd.
IMG_2782 On our way back we remained on the paved bike path after recrossing Champoeg Creek. This route would bring us back on a loop around open farmland and the park’s Frisbee golf course. IMG_2797

We spotted a number of birds along this portion including an Acorn Woodpecker.
IMG_2788 Acorn Woodpecker

IMG_2803 Near the end of the loop we spotted a tree with markers showing the water levels during the 1861 flood and the more recent 1996 flood. IMG_2804

Highwater makers for the 1861 & 1996 floods. We lived in Monmouth, OR in 1996 so we remembered the 1996 event. It was hard to fathom how much more water there would have needed to be to reach that 1861 mark. We finished up our hike and began to drive back out of the park, but as we were sitting at a stop sign I looked out the passenger window to see an American Kestrel sitting in a tree only 10 feet away. I reached back for the camera only to realize I had put it in the back of the car. As a rule I keep it in the back seat because of the amount of wildlife we seem to wind up seeing from the car instead of on the hikes, but I hadn’t this time. The kestrel flew off and landed in another tree a little further away, so I hopped out and got the camera out of the back in hopes of getting a picture. It changed trees one more time before I was able to jog over to the bike path (which just happened to pass near the road here) and get a semi decent photo. Americn Kestrel

This wasn’t one of our typical hikes, but knowing the history of the area made it an interesting hike. If you’re interested in more information on this area or for other historical Oregon hikes check out Hiking Oregon’s History by William L. Sullivan.

Happy Trails and Merry Christmas!
Little Christmas Tree in Champoeg State Park

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157660242747654