Saturday, April 9, 2016

5 Beautiful Spring Hikes

Wildflowers at Cooper Mountain Nature Park

Portlanders have easy access to some of the most beautiful hikes around this time of year showcasing waterfalls, many plant species and beautiful wildflowers blooming early due to unseasonably warm weather. Check out some of these stellar hikes nearby:

Camas wildflowers at the Camassia Natural Area 

1. Camassia Natural Area | West Linn. This Nature Conservancy preserve is named after the common camas (Camassia quamash), a beautiful native wildflower which blooms prodigiously in April and into early May and even beyond. Nestled above the Clackamas and Willamette rivers practically opposite downtown Oregon City, the rocky plateau on which Camassia sits was scraped clean between 12,000 and 19,000 years ago during the Bretz Floods, which deposited glacial erratics – granitic boulders from as far away as Canada – along its path. This 26-acre protected plot of land in West Linn is mostly dry oak-madrone woodland, with some 300 plant species. Low-lying areas include both ponds and seasonal wet meadows, a perfect habitat for camas and many other lovely wildflowers.
Triple Falls

2. Triple Falls, Horsetail falls, Oneonta & Ponytail Falls | Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington.  This is a quintessential western Gorge hike with three sparkling waterfalls (one in which you get to walk behind!), several outstanding Gorge views, and one unique Oneonta Gorge slot canyon all packed in 2.2 miles!

Silver Falls State Park

3. Silver Creek Falls | Silverton, Oregon.  With 10 waterfalls and more than 24 miles of walking trails, this hike might just have it all. Located just outside of Salem, Oregon, this state park is the largest in Oregon. Welcoming all people from beginners to advanced hikers, the South falls is the most visited out of them all.

Dog Mountain

4. Dog Mountain | Columbia River Gorge, on the Washington side between Carson and Bingen The summit can be so dense with blooming balsamroot that yellow can be seen 3,000 feet below from I-84.  At the top you will find panoramic views of the Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.

5. Cooper Mountain Nature Park | Beaverton, Oregon. Cooper Mountain Nature Park has 3.5 miles of gravel surface trails over its 231 acres. The looping trail system covers well at the summit of the 774-foot high butte. If you are quiet, you might catch a glimpse of rare animals such as Northern red-legged frogs and Western gray squirrels. In the prairie habitat you may see alligator lizards, nesting bluebirds and wildflowers in spring. Young visitors can explore a nature-inspired playground, and adventurers with wheelchairs can enjoy a three-fourths-mile loop trail and a demonstration garden with colorful, low-maintenance, wildlife-friendly plants.

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