The Nature Conservancy's Camassia Natural Area is a remarkably biodiverse preserve. Situated on 26 acres on a hill just off I-205 in West Linn, it is an easily accessible excursion for all ages. It's namesake common camas blooms in April and early May, creating a stunning display of color with many other types of wildflowers through spring and early summer. Wildlife are also abundant, with many species of birds such as woodpeckers, as well as amphibians, mammals, and reptiles commonly seen.
The plateau has dramatic rock formations that appeared 12,000-19,000 years ago during the Bretz floods. Moss and lichen cover the rocks, adding to the stunning display. Be aware that the highway below means a little traffic noise, but do not be deterred; this is a unique area not to be missed.
If you have more time, hike up this hill into to the neighboring conifer forest filled with trillium, or down into the old quarry near West Linn High School. Guided hikes and volunteer opportunities are available in spring and summer.
DIRECTIONS FROM THE NATURE CONSERVANCY:
- Drive S from Portland on Highway 43 (SW Macadam Avenue) through Lake Oswego to West Linn OR drive S from Portland on I-205 to the West Linn Exit # 8 and turn left at the end of the exit ramp.
- After going under the highway, turn uphill onto Willamette Falls Drive just before the gas station. (This is the last right turn before coming to the bridge over the Willamette River, so if you find yourself on the bridge, you went too far).
- After one block, Willamette Falls Road turns 90 degrees to the left; continue on Willamette Falls Road for .25 mile.
- Veer right onto Sunset Avenue, which continues uphill, passing over I-205. • Take the first right onto Walnut Street, which ends at the preserve entrance and parking area.
Learn more on the Nature Conservancy's website, and please consider volunteering with them or donating to help protect Oregon's beautiful and important wild places: http://goo.gl/Ylv77p
Images 1 and 3 are courtesy of my great father-in-law Brent Schauer. And thanks to my lovely wife Krista for posing in pic 2!