A visit to Tualatin Hills Nature Park, 23 March 2021

Camera: Olympus Pen EES-2. Film: Fuji Industrial 100.

As I mentioned in the previous post, when it comes to “family adventures”, I’ve been trying to aim for parks in the metro area that either I haven’t been to before or haven’t been to in a long time. On Tuesday March 23rd Emee had a morning business meeting in Beaverton, a suburb over the West Hills to the west of Portland. We decided to hit up Tualatin Hills Nature Park for an afternoon adventure after the meeting, so with Emee’s daughter in tow we headed on over.

Ah, “Tualatin Hills Nature Park”, what a inappropriate name. You hear that and think of a place with great views, right? But the topography of the park is pretty flat, so much for “hills” and views. Actually, the park is named after the Tualatin Hills Park and Rec District, which Beaverton is in. But even that name isn’t really correct: this area is more a valley than anything else, the valley of the slow-moving Tualatin River. So it’d be more apt to call the park Tualatin Valley Nature Park, right? But the Tualatin River is about five miles south of here. It would be more appropriate to name the park after either Beaverton or Cedar Mill Creeks, the two creeks that actually run through the park. But no. At least the “nature” part is right!

I have been to Tualatin Hills at least once before, but just like with Lacamas Park, it’s maybe been a good fifteen years. While it’s easy to get to via public transit (there’s a MAX light rail station right at the northwest entrance!) after visiting it once it fell off my radar as I sought out more exciting spots. That’s a shame, because on this day I found the park to be a fine spot to ramble about for an hour or two. There’s many paths running through the 222 acres (90 hectares) of land, and a variety of swampy lowland and drier upland. And yes, there are the two creeks (Cedar Mill Creek flows into Beaverton Creek) plus a couple ponds.

The main paths were plenty busy on this Tuesday afternoon (spring break in full effect!) but once we got onto the unpaved trails things quieted down considerably. The dirt trails have been transformed into one-way routes during the pandemic, lessening the chance of interacting with folks. While the din of roads and highways (and the occasional squeal of a MAX train) was always present (this part of suburbia is continuously developing), once under the trees everything felt peaceful. Frogs were heard, new blooms of trillium observed. Spring in the forest. Binoculars were brought for bird viewing.

It was a fun little jaunt. And it’s a natural area that’s very accessible by transit, so we should get back out this way soon. I also would like to hit up the newer Orenco Woods Park further west too. Perhaps a westside MAX-and-nature adventure is in store?

For photos of this adventure, see the dynamic flickr album below. Or, click here.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park, 23 March 2021

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