Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SW ~ Tryon Creek State Park

Date visited: October 24, 2007
Agency: Oregon State Parks and Recreation Dept.
Path Surface: Dirt, gravel. All-accessible trail and bike path are paved.
Elevation gain/loss: variable, but there's some short steep hills on some of the trails.
Distance: Variable
Ratings: Setting ++++ Calorie-burning ++++
Directions: From I-5, take the Terwilliger Blvd exit and go 2.3 miles south to the park entrance.

For a short walk or longer hike, it's hard to beat Tryon Creek State Park: more than 10 miles of forested paths and close to a major freeway.

Short loops begin from the parking lot on the “Nature Center Trails,” the Maple Ridge, Center and Big Fir trails, each around ½ mile, or combine the perimeter of the three to make about 1 mile (including the Old Main Trail). These trails are likely to be the busiest and have the least elevation change, as they stay along the ridgeline above the creek. An all-accessible trail also begins at the parking lot's south end and loops 1/3 of a mile. But if you are up for a bit more of a workout, venture further for mileage and a few heart-pumping climbs. It's a 125 foot drop to creek level.

Wandering is very possible in this park. Today we started from the equestrian parking lot because the main parking area was full. We first took our aged dog on the short loop, returned her to the car, then hiked the north park perimeter on the North Horse Loop, cutting off to the Lewis and Clark Trail so that we could cross the Terry Riley suspension bridge. Big leaf maples shedding those big leaves provided a yellow and tan covering to much of the trail as we crunched along. We crossed over High Bridge, continued on the West Horse Loop to the Hemlock and Cedar Trails, turning back north on the Red Fox Trail. Brilliant fall colors appeared in the evergreens where leaves had landed, looking like early Christmas ornaments.

If there is a negative to this park, noise would be it. At the park edges, you will hear road noise and typical neighborhood noise (like leaf blowers). We seemed to be right under the path of incoming air traffic today as well. The three mile bike trail sits right beside Terwillger Blvd most of the way. But in many places, deep in the park, it is quiet enough to hear the soft settling of falling leaves.

At minimum, take a trail map (also available on-site at the Nature Center). Many of the trail are signed, but it's still easy to get confused about where you are.

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