I’ve stated previously that Portland’s SW “quadrant” is still the “here be dragons” on my Rose City mental map. Despite living in Portland for almost 20 years, the area of SW over the West Hills is still a fairly unexplored area for me. I know the main roads, but have not scrutinized all the other byways like I have with other areas of the city. It’s not unwarranted: Besides being the furthest from my house, this area is not great for either walking or biking, as it’s hilly and often sidewalkless, with not a lot in the way of bike routes either. And transit here is a joke: Unless you’re getting to a destination on SW Barbur Blvd or SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, roads serviced by frequent-service bus lines, expect half-hour to hour long headways outside of rush hour. One day there may be a light rail line out here, but that could be another decade or two away.
I don’t have a lot of reason to trudge over to deep SW, but over the years there have been some: My dentist is out this way, an excuse to get in a bike adventure. My former roommate Chris briefly owned a coffee shop out that way, which I visited during a Coffeeneuring Challenge. And now I’ve been bringing my cameras to one of the two camera repair shops found out here. On Friday February 26 I got a call from Portland Camera Service that my Olympus Pen EES-2 was ready. I opted to take the van, as the weather was a bit iffy for a long ride and I had to pick up some other things. But like the last few times I’ve been out this way I’ve squeezed in some time to explore some parks that I hadn’t been to before. On this day I chose two different parks: Stephens Creek Natural Area off SW Bertha, and Dickinson Woods even deeper down.
Stephens Creek is really close to Portland Camera Service in Hillsdale. I’ve passed by it many times on bike and in car, but hadn’t explored it until now. What I found is a little creek flowing in between neighborhoods. There’s a bit of that out this way, as the hilly topography didn’t lend itself to “putting the creek in a pipe underground” that happens on the east side. There was a nice little boardwalk over the creek, a nice respite in the city.
The next park was further flung and more obscure. I’ve seen the green box of Dickinson Woods on maps I’ve pored over through the years. Back in 2004 I did my first real explorations into deep SW, exploring the various pathways that criss-cross the quadrant. The organization SW Trails has done a commendable job over the years in developing walking routes that are a mix of sidewalk, unpaved path, and on quiet roads. They are well marked too, all you really need to know is what numbered route goes where. During that era I first explored Marshall Park and the upper reaches of Tryon Creek, along with Gabriel Park near Multnomah Village. I wanted to check out Dickinson but it was always a little out of my reach, as I had to rely on the spotty bus service to help stitch routes together. I had only so much patience for a half-hour or longer wait for buses. And this was before I had any sort of mobile device, so I had to bring paper copies of the bus schedules to figure out times!
But today I had the van, so I steered it over that way. Dickinson Woods is almost at the western city line, just north of I-5 and south of Taylor’s Ferry. The park had two facets: an upper woods and a lower field. There was a path that wound through the woods, down the hill and paralleling a creek (a fork of Ash Creek I believe, which feeds into the Tualatin River.) The woods were nice, but pretty overrun with invasive English Ivy. It’d be nice if it was cleared, but since this place is so out of the way I don’t think there’s much motivation to do so. It was a nice quick ramble, but I’m almost glad that I waited 17 years to get here. I’d be more bummed if I had to bus it all the way over here.
It was time to head back, so I got in the van and pushed eastward. I hope to get back out this way soon. I have the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s at Advance Camera for a CLA, so I’ll need to get out this way in another month. Perhaps I’ll take the bike?
For photos from this excursion, please see the dynamic flickr album below. Or click here.