Located along Lake Oswego’s Northern boundary is Tryon Creek State Park. It consists of over 600 acres of natural areas. There are trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and a paved trail that is designed to be user friendly for people with disabilities. It is a gem in the metro area and it is at our back door.
I have been hiking in the park for years. The trails are varied enough that you can do a short excursion of under a mile or stretch it out to be several miles long. While hiking in the park last Sunday, I was impressed with the condition of the trails. Oregon lottery money has been infused into the maintenance of the park and is easily evident in the well maintained paths and bridges.
Bridges are necessary because the park is layed out around a canyon that contains a natural watershed. The creek at the bottom is one of the few remaining creeks in the area with an active run of steelhead trout.
The history of the park goes back to an early pioneer, Socrates Hotchkiss Tryon (gotta love that name!). He established the first land claim which was sold in the late 19th Century to the Oregon Iron company for $7000. The Oregon Iron Company logged the canyon to provide fuel for the iron foundry in Lake Oswego. Logging continued off and on until 1961.
People locally began to appreciate the value of the natural area and the Friends of Tryon Creek was formed in 1969 to work toward preserving the area in its natural state.
In 1970 a land developer obtained an option on the property to develop it into homesites. This set off a firestorm of volunteer support. In just 3 weeks time 325 volunteers raised $27,000 as the first step in saving the park. Efforts continued throughout the year and on October 26th of that same year, Governor Tom McCall announced the formation of Tryon Creek Park. The state then purchased 600+ acres for nearly $3,000,000. The park was dedicated in 1975.
Today visitors come to the park to enjoy the trails and the nature center. There are classes for children as well as for adults. There is an annual art display called Natural Cycles: Art in the Forest. And then there is the Trillium Festival.
A discussion about Tryon Creek State Park would not be complete without the subject of the native trillium. Trillium Ovatum are a wildflower that grow in the undisturbed shadows of the forest. They are a member of the lily family and bloom in March. They start out white and turn pink as they age. They are a very delicate plant. As a child I recall my grandmother telling me “don’t pick the trillium”. This is because if you pick a the flower, it takes the plant 7 years to recover and to bloom again.
The Trillium Festival is held annually when the forest is in full bloom. It includes a plant sale where you can purchase trillium to put into your own garden. This year’s festival is April 4-6.
Admission to the park is free.
This park is so close to Lake Oswego that it is easily enjoyed. There are trails directly into the park from both the First Addition and Forest Highlands neighborhoods.