I’ve mentioned here before that Emee and I have been using the van to hit up some of the more far-flung and unknown parks in the Metro area. While I love being able to either bike and/or take transit to these spots, many of them are just far enough to be impractical as winter day trips. And most are not close to transit, even if we were willing to take it.
It was a nice day on Saturday December 12th, a clear day sandwiched into about two weeks of damp and cloudy. We decided to check out Cooper Mountain Nature Park, a fairly new open space on the edge of the westside suburb of Beaverton. The park consists of a mix of forest, prairie, and oak savannah, and offers a great south-facing view of Chehalem Ridge.
Cooper Mountain turned out to be a very popular place on a sunny December Saturday, so much so that the parking lot was full when we arrived! A car was just leaving, so we grabbed that spot. Emee and I had a moment of pandemic-hardened hesitation, but we figured that the park was big enough that we could be effectively be separated with folks. We masked up and hit the trail.
And I’m a bit relieved that we drove there: The entrance to the park is at the very top of the hill. The two roads we used to get to/from the entrance had grades reaching 15%! That’d be a pain to walk up from a bus stop, and steep enough on a bike that I’d probably be walking much of it as well. There may be a somewhat easier entry, but that would mean an even longer bike ride to get to the far side of the park. And it’d probably still be steep.* This also meant that the return trip on most of the trails (save for a couple smaller loops near the top) meant a bit of climbing. We saw a few families struggling to push strollers up the grades.
Cooper Mountain turned out to be a nice park. The view was great. The bare Oregon White Oaks in the savannah were impressive. We also caught a glimpse of a low-flying hawk, cruising through the woodland. We did a nice 1 3/4 mile loop, which was about 2/3 of the possible trails in the park. We’ll definitely be back another time, hopefully during a less busy weekday, where we can explore the park more.
For photos from the adventure, check out the dynamic flickr album below. Or, click here.
*What even makes Cooper Mountain less appealing for biking to is none of the trails allow bikes, so it would be a “lock up and walk in” type of adventure. There’s definitely a lack of bike access when it comes to some of the nature parks in the metro ara.