Today, it started to sprinkle a little bit….not really rain….but I was in the mood for a walk, so I grabbed John and told him that I had a surprise for him….and we set off for Powell Butte, one of the many urban forests in Portland. It was such a beautiful experience for us both. I had hiked on Powell Butte once before, but without John, and I didn’t even tell him where we were going until we got there. He had never been, and was very happy when he saw our destination.
So hard to believe this forest is only 15 minutes from home! Powell Butte is the site of an extinct cinder cone volcano that rises near the headwaters of Johnson Creek – an urban creek that runs near our daughter’s home. It has a remnant populations of native salmon and steelhead that one can see occasionally from the shore. The park is comprised of 608 acres of meadowland and forest. We went to the densest forest area that has trails running up the side of the volcano.
Before the turn of the century, the large meadow area was cleared and an orchard planted, although there are no signs left of it today. In 1925 the City of Portland bought the property from George Wilson because they planned to build future water reservoirs there. However, they continued to lease the northeast section of the property to Henry Anderegg, a farmer and owner of Meadowland Crest Dairy, until 1948 when he retired. . However, dairy cattle were permitted to graze on the acreage to preserve the pastures. In the mid-1970s the Water Bureau prepared a development plan for Powell Butte that called for the construction of four 50-million gallon underground reservoirs to be located at the north end of the butte. In 1981 the first, and only, reservoir was built and still serves as the hub of the Water Bureau’s distribution system. Also, the Powell Valley Water District has three reservoirs on the butte. In 1987 the City officially established Powell Butte as a nature park and the park was opened to the public in 1990.
Today, miles of trails accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. In fact, we were almost run off the trail by a group of 10-yr. old mountain bikers that shattered our serenity with their war cries and shrieks as they sped down the hill. After they had passed, however, the quiet was restored.
Abundant wildlife populates the park, including rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, ground squirrels, raccoons, gray foxes, skunks, bats, chipmunks, coyotes, and black-tailed mule deer. The park is home to many birds of prey with its open meadows, groves of wild hawthorn trees, forested slopes of Western red cedar, and wetlands near Johnson Creek.
We didn’t see any wildlife today….not even birds, but the walk was splendid, regardless. The weather was cool and breezy, and we felt the occasional raindrop….just enough to keep us cool during our brisk walk. We walked all the way to the top, too!
I loved all the moss growing on the trees…and the ferns on the forest floor.
I loved everything about this walk! John and I had a great chat as we strolled up the path to the top of the ridge, and then back down again. He called me, “Sacagawea” because I have a real knack for finding my way around in a forest. He claims to always get lost. I told him I would rescue him. No problem. 🙂
This was a nice end of summer walk…and we both remarked about how it was beginning to feel like autumn a little bit.
A new season for new adventures….