My usual exercise routine of running and walking sometimes gets, well, a bit too routine. Mr Husband and I mix it up now and then with an early morning round of stand-up paddle boarding (with Finn McSpool joining in, although he’s not very helpful in the paddling department as you can see HERE).
But sometimes, when I can’t stand trudging along the same streets, we venture out to one of the many urban hiking opportunities in Portland. Longtime readers will remember the day we forgot to take Finn on our witchy hike (he’s still giving me crap about that one!), so this time I made sure he was the first item I grabbed when we prepared to head out to another local nature spot: Tryon Creek State Park.
Wait, before we venture off into the woods, how about a quick history lesson?
Stealing & Saving Tryon Creek
The area we’re headed to was once used by scads of indigenous people, including the Chinook, the Wishram, the Tumwater, the Multnomah, the Tualatin Kalapuya, the Cayuse, and the Molalla. It must have been a happening spot in the day.
Then white people came and “settled” (aka “nabbed”) the land. And by “white people” I mean Socrates Hotchkiss Tryon, Senior. In 1850, he claimed the land without bothering to ask if anyone else was using it. A few years later, he died (suspicious?).
Murder mystery/ancient curse aside, the land passed to his wife, then his son (Socrates Junior), who sold the land to an iron company that hacked down the land’s trees to stoke their forges (you can still hike the trail that was once the old logging road).
Logging continued under another company and was slowly turning the little gorge into a big bald spot. The infamous Columbus Day Storm of 1962 wiped out many of the remaining trees.
Finally, someone said, “Wait, this place is kind of nice, we should protect it.” But this is prime Portland real estate and developers were saying, “Hell no, let’s bulldoze it and build houses on it.”
Luckily, conservation won out (yes, that used to happen back in the day). Local groups and the county raised money to buy the land, volunteers carved out hiking trails and built a visitor’s center, and eventually the 650 acres were declared a state park by governor Tom McCall.
Okay, enough history, time to stretch the old legs.
Finn McSpool Treks Tryon Creek
The first stop for any trip to Tryon Creek State Park is to ponder the trail map at the visitor’s center. Not that you’ll actually remember your carefully planned out route of the park’s eight miles of looping and intersecting trails…
Anyway, the visitor’s center also happened to have Finn’s favorite thing: a photo opportunity!
-Finn, you do know owls eat small creatures, right?
-Which is why I’m backing away very slowly. Hey, wait a minute, this guy’s just made of wood.
-You didn’t actually think it was real, did you?
-(looking away sheepishly) Um, no, not at all. Say, there aren’t any dangerous creatures here, are there?
-Are you still having nightmares of your bear scare in Alaska?
-Mayyybe. But this is the city. It’s totally safe, yes? Pleeeease say yes.
-Well, there are coyotes all over the city, we even see them trotting down the streets of our neighborhood. Plus, there was a mountain lion sighting at the park last month and– Finn? Finn???
-I think this might be the safest place for me.
-Okay, but if a dog comes by, he might pee on you.
-Can I just ride in the backpack?
-Sure, hop in.
From the vantage point of the backpack, Finn got a great view of how well the park has recovered from its previous days of being heavily logged. Check out this soaring, moss-covered specimen.
And, by peering over my shoulder, Finn got a shady view of the trail ahead…
Besides plenty of hiking and equestrian trails (sorry, no horsey encounters this time, but you will often come across riders), Tryon Creek is known for its many bridges that not only help you keep your feet dry when crossing the creek, but also protect the wetland areas from being trampled.
And one bridge helps getting across a deep culvert easy…and fun. Yep, it’s a suspension bridge and it’s super bouncy if you try hard enough!
After wandering up down and all around, it was time to head back to the visitor’s center to see just how far we’d diverted from our original hiking plan.
Thanks for coming along with us!
Any good hiking spots in your town? Or is there anywhere in your city where you can wander amongst some greenery? Tell me about where you stroll in a comment below!!
Oh, and for more information on Tryon Creek State Park including trail maps, plant & animal guides, and events visit its page on the Oregon State Parks website.