Friday, July 17, 2009
SW ~ Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Date visited: July 2, 2009
Agency: Metro/ THPRD
Path Surface: Mostly gravel, some dirt
Elevation gain/loss: 330 feet
Distance: 2.9 miles as described, 3.5 miles of trails
Ratings: Setting ++++ Calorie-burning ++++
Directions: From Highway 217, take the Scholls Ferry Road exit and go west on Scholls Ferry. At Southwest 175th Avenue, turn right and go north, uphill, about 1.8 miles. Curve left on Kemmer Road. The park entrance is on the south side of Kemmer Road near its intersection with 190th. Or, from Southwest Farmington Road (Highway 10), turn south on 185th Avenue, which will become Gassner Road, turn left on 190th Avenue and left on Kemmer Road. NO PETS ARE ALLOWED.
If for no other reason, go for the view. But while you're there, may as well get some exercise.
Beginning atop Cooper Mountain at 760 feet elevation, we followed the west edge of the Little Prairie, then Cooper Mountain loops, which first traverse through a planting of young evergreens. Savannah sparrows and western bluebirds seemed to really like it here. The trail then dives down through an oak woodland (great white breasted nuthatch territory) bottoming out at around 430 feet elevation, and starts up again. The gravel trails are wide, which is good because there is POISON OAK EVERYWHERE. We startled a deer at an old (and tiny) quarry, which is being rehabilitated to provide amphibian habitat. Today, the black quarry rocks contrasted nicely with the American goldfinches dipping their beaks into the murky pond water.
We took the Larkspur Loop extension for added mileage, then climbed Blacktail Way to finish on the Little Praire Loop. Signposts guided us at each intersection.
It's possible to take some shorter loops with less elevation change, but our route gives a nice overview of all the habitats and good birding spots.
Didn't get enough of Oregon white oak? Try Baskett Slough NWR.