Monday, June 06, 2005

NE~Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center

Date last visited: May 13, 2005
Agency: Various
Path Surface: Paved/Dirt
Elevation gain/loss: 20 feet
Distance: Variable, but up to 3.5
Ratings: Setting + Calorie-burning + +
Directions: I-5 or I 205 to SR14 east to 164th Exit. Turn right from the ramp, then right again on Evergreen Hwy. When the massive structure of I-205 is in sight, watch to the right for visitor parking for the fish hatchery, now called the Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center. GPS N 45.35.976, W 122.32.856

This area is better if you plan to wander rather than looking at it for a workout. Several loop trails provide a natural setting, but the distance (such as it is) parallels Evergreen Hwy. Traffic on the highway is not terribly busy, but train, freeway and street noise combine to make this a less than ideal option for a peaceful undertaking.

From the parking lot, westward, two paved paths branch off. The right path puts you onto a sometimes muddy trail that takes a 1/3 mile loop through the woods. The forest is lush and wet this time of year. After doing that loop, return to the parking lot and take the left paved fork, which, after less than .1 mile, emerges from the woods to right beside the street. Not long after that, another path to the right takes you into the Biddle Nature Preserve for another loop. If this were most anywhere else, this would be a peaceful stroll through the woods, but the constant roar of the freeway traffic reminds you of where you are. The typical suburban birds flit about: we saw starlings, house sparrows, robins, towhees and song sparrows.

Continue west on the paved path after exiting the preserve. The path opens to a neighborhood, but you might still spy a redwing blackbird or two. After crossing the highway, you might catch a glimpse of the Columbia River, and an occasional osprey circles overhead. At Ellsworth Rd, .7 miles west of the preserve, we turned left and walked down to the railroad tracks for our return trip. There is plenty of room to walk, but be sure to watch for trains because this track is in use. Here, a few rabbits hopped ahead of us. We also saw crows, rock doves and gold-crown sparrows. Return to the highway along a driveway that is not gated.

After returning to the parking lot once again, take the time to wander through the hatchery area. A few more short trails to the east of the hatchery also provide interesting viewing, including, several wood ducks and on this day, an angry blue heron that could not figure out why it could not get to the fish in the large pond! (You'll see.) Map of area. Posted by Hello

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