Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SW ~ Henry Hagg Lake

Date visited: October 14, 2008
Agency: Washington County
Path Surface: Paved road shoulder or dirt trail
Elevation gain/loss: Lots of hills, especially on the road
Distance: 10-15 miles
Ratings: Setting ++++ Calorie-burning ++++
Directions: From the Sunset Hwy west to the Hillsboro exit at Cornell Road, and follow the signs to downtown Hillsboro on Cornell Road, which changes into 10th Avenue. Turn west on Tualatin Valley Highway (Oregon 8) to Forest Grove. Turn south on Oregon 47 for about six miles to the sign for Scoggins Valley Park/Henry Hagg Lake, where you turn right. Drive about 1.5 miles farther to entrance at fee booth ($5).

Before autumn rains, a tan fringe circles Hagg Lake above the blue water but below the green vegetation belt and the surrounding hills. A few fishing boats float on the placid water, much easier to spot than the small groups of waterfowl who are the first to arrive on the leading edge of the season.

Hiking and biking are two ways to circle the lake. Today, we circumnavigated on bikes, sticking mainly to the wide shoulders of the West Shore and Scoggins Valley Roads, neither of which carries much traffic at this time of year. We ventured onto the dirt path for awhile too. A few detours along the way and we ended up with a ride of just over 12 miles.

This is not an area for beginning bicyclists. Several of the hills are steep enough for some serious gear shifting. Lake views are limited from the road. The dirt trail slopes are not as lengthy, but the path is worn so deeply in spots we weren't be able to turn our pedals. Roots, rocks and wrinkles create a challenge.

Several spots on the route are perfect for a lake-view picnic. And several other turnouts from the road offer either a great view of the lake or the thick brown posts marking trail access.

We are yet a little early for serious fall birding, but we still picked out 21 different species of birds without trying very hard.

Area drawing.

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