Monday, June 08, 2009

NW ~ Rock Creek Nature Preserve

Date visited: June 8, 2009
Agency: PCC Rock Creek
Path Surface: Dirt
Elevation gain/loss: 40 feet
Distance: If you try hard you might be able to get 2 1/2 miles
Ratings: Setting +++ Calorie-burning ++
Directions: From Hwy 26, take exit 64, go north on 185th and turn right on Springhill Rd, follow signs to Rock Creek PCC campus. To generate the most mileage. park in lot B.

I wish there were more trail and I wish what trail there is was better maintained, because this really is a pretty place in spring and summer. Consider visiting on the weekend when the $3 parking fee does not apply.

To maximize mileage, park in lot B and cross campus to the northwest corner, near Building 3. We walked the north edge, where we saw several barn swallows and a few nests clinging to the buildings. A gate near the northwest corner of Building 3 is the beginning of the dirt trail that leads downhill through mixed woods and wildflowers. At another gate, cross an old farm road and go through yet another gate. Continue downhill through the woods to a fork in the trail. The left fork quickly ends at a meadow. The right fork continues to a boardwalk which also leads out into the meadow, about .3 mile from the first gate.

Entering this new habitat, look and listen for white breasted nuthatches, which are nearly as apt as acorns to be on the big oak trees. Swallows cruise and dart over the grassy meadow. Common yellowthroat "witchety-witchety" nearby, but mostly out of sight. We are too late for the camas display, but I can imagine it was fantastic.

The boardwalk ends abruptly at a locked gate, only a tenth of a mile after you enter the meadow. On our return, we walked the farm road past the gates and trail and were rewarded with great views of a lazuli bunting. We then backtracked to the gates, took the right hand one following the trail back uphill, to and across the developed campus to lot B. Our bird species count for the day was 31.

There is allegedly a 1/2 mile paved trail near parking lot B, but today at least, the entrance was chained shut. An aerial photo of the site is located here.

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