Portland, Oregon is known as one of the greenest cities in the country. And yes we like to reduce, reuse and recycle here. But we aren’t talking about that kind of green. We are talking about another kind of green, Mother Nature. There are over 200 parks in the Portland area alone. Not to mention the surrounding areas like Vancouver, Washington. It is the perfect playground for individuals that want, or even need to be outdoors. I have had the pleasure of exploring many of these parks in Portland and the surrounding areas. However, there are three parks that come to mind when spring shows itself again and the wildflowers start to bloom.
Forest Park in Portland is one of the largest parks within a city. It resides in the West Hills and there are hikes tailored for anyone, ranging from easy to difficult. My family and I enjoy heading to this location in early spring because of the beauty of the foliage in the area. One of our favorite hikes is part of the Wildwood trail at Upper Macleay Park. This is an easy hike that meanders down by a creek and ends at Lower Macleay Park. There are numerous varieties of wildflowers you can view along the way, but there is one that always catches my 7 year olds’ eye, Trillium. With dark hues of pink and purple sprouting out of patches of lush green leaves, they are hard to miss.
The very first hike I encountered in Portland, Oregon was on an extinct volcano called Powell Butte. Located on the East Side of Portland off of Powell Boulevard there is a park where on a clear day you can see Mount Saint Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Adams (all local volcanoes). The selection of trails can go from meadow like to forest like and most are relatively short. We typically hike these trails in fall and early winter but have recently went on a spring hike and discovered a non native flowering plant to the northwest, Yellow Glandweed. Although I have read that it can be an invasive plant, it is aesthetically pleasing to look at nonetheless. *Please note: There is currently construction occurring at Powell Butte. Verify that the trails are open before you head out for a hike.
Over the river on the outskirts of Vancouver, Washington there is a lesser known hiking spot but with similar appeal for spring wildflower viewing. Lacamas Lake in Camas, Washington is home to a small area called the Camas Lily Field. The hike begins at the parking lot off of Lake Road. Continue over the dam where you will more than likely encounter a fisherman or two. At the first fork, keep right and follow the lower falls sign. After a brief mostly flat hike with the sound of waterfalls flowing next to you, a field will come into view filled with delicate purple flowers. The Cammasia Quamash, or Camas Lily, covers the hillside and invites you to wander through it. We visit this location in mid to late April to enjoy the lilies in bloom.