Portland has many natural areas and parks with oak-prairie habitat to explore. All of these are in varying stages of restoration and are imperiled habitats in the Willamette Valley. To learn about these habitats and wildlife associated with them, consider guided walks available on the area’s websites. Portland Audubon, as well, has weekly spring bird song walks at some of these areas.
The public can help by following the rules to keep further ecological damage to a minimum. Trail and animal rules differ so please check before you visit. Most require staying on the trail for good reason: plants grow by the inch, but die by the foot. Many do NOT allow dogs because they carry weed seeds, parasites (including ticks), defecate and are predators which would impact the wildlife and ecology being restored.
CAMASSIA NATURE PRESERVE, The Nature Conservancy
Camassia Natural Area is a 22.5 acre natural area owned and maintained by the Nature Conservancy. It is named after the common camas lily, Camassia quamash, that blankets the preserve in spring. The unique and rare quality of habitat and geology makes it a gem to preserve. It’s rocky plateau exposes basalt flows and deposited granitic boulders called erratics, from the Bretz Floods 12,000-19,000 years ago. Trails weave through Oregon White Oak woods, oak-madrone wet prairie, Quaking Aspen, vernal and permanent ponds. The habitats support 300+ plant species including rare species like the White Rock Larkspur. It is a fragile rare ecosystem. Please stay on the trail and off the lichen covered boulders. An additional bonus by staying on the trail is avoiding Poison Oak. Volunteers lead hikes and remove invasive species. After you fall in love with Camassia please consider volunteering.
NO dogs allowed. Camassia is a preserve which places wildlife and habitat first.
Location: 4800 Walnut St, West Linn, OR 97068
Visiting information on The Nature Conservancy’s Camassia Natural Area Webpage
West Linn Parks & Recreation Webpage
Oregon Hikers.org Webpage
The Nature of Portland Webpage
GRAHAM OAKS NATURE PARK, Metro
Graham Oaks Nature Park is a 250 acre nature park owned and maintained by Metro regional government. It has a rich diversity of wildlife thanks to the protection and restoration of several different habitats. Hiking trails weave through Oregon White Oak savanna and woodlands, wetlands, and a Douglas Fir conifer forest. Wildlife unique to these habitats includes White-breasted Nuthatches, Western Bluebirds, Orange-crowned Warblers and Western Gray Squirrels. To date restoration has included 100 million grass and flower seeds, 150,000 oaks, pines, firs and other tree and shrub species some of which have been from Metro’s Native Plant Center. Five plazas along the trail network offer places to rest and reflect, one of which has a 6,000-pound acorn sculpture. The Tonquin Trail is a paved multi-use path planned to connect the Willamette River to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks to bond measures in 1995 for Open Spaces, Parks and Streams and in 2006 to Safeguard Water Quality, Protect Fish and Wildlife Habitat these ecosystems have been protected from development as parklands or trails and allow access to the public.
Dogs are ONLY allowed on the Ice Age Tonquin Trail because of the trail network. NO other trails allow dogs because of sensitive habitats.
Location: 11825 SW Wilsonville Rd, Wilsonville, OR 97070
Visiting information on Metro’s Graham Oaks Nature Park webpage
Visiting information in Spanish on Metro’s Graham Oaks Nature Park webpage
City of Wilsonville Natural Areas webpage
Oregon Hikers.org webpage
The Nature of Portland webpage
Walking Tour pdf
Audio Walking Tour by Laura Foster
Audio Walking Tour Transcript by Laura Foster
COOPER MOUNTAIN NATURE PARK, Metro
Cooper Mountain Nature Park is a 231 acre nature park owned by Metro regional government and maintained by Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District. Educating the public about the value native plants and nature is a center piece of this park. A demonstration garden, Nature House with classes and nature-inspired playground are some of the amenities. Views of the Chehalem Mountains and Tualatin Valley are the backdrop for trails leading through fields of wildflowers, wetlands, Oregon White Oak-Madrone stands, conifer forest and small quarry pond. These habitats are home to rare animals as Northern Red-legged Frogs, Rubber Boa, Western Gray Squirrels and Western Bluebirds. Restoration began with fire burns and has maintained with intermittent cow grazing. Volunteers and Metro have removed invasive species and planted over 110,000 shrubs and trees. The gem of this park is the small prairie which has remained relatively undisturbed for hundreds of years. Plant life includes White Rock Larkspur, Oregon Sunshine, Meadow Checkermallow and Western Columbine. Megaphone-shaped listening devices dot the trails for a sensory experience of amplified sounds of nature. Thanks to bond measures in 1995 for Open Spaces, Parks and Streams and in 2006 to Safeguard Water Quality, Protect Fish and Wildlife Habitat, as well as grants from Oregon Dept. of Parks & Recreation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, these ecosystems have been protected from development as parklands or trails and allow access to the public.
NO dogs, horses or other pets allowed. NO hunting is allowed. NO drones, model planes, model boats and other remote-controlled vehicles are allowed. Geocaching has guidelines.
Location: 18892 SW Kemmer Rd, Beaverton, OR 97007
Visiting information on Metro’s Cooper Mountain Nature Park webpage
Visiting information on Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District webpage
Oregon Hikers.org webpage
The Nature of Portland webpage
Access Trails webpage
Cooper Mountain Garden Guide
Cooper Mountain Nature Programs