This is my favorite slice of wildlife to explore in the Portland Metro Area. It’s a bit of a secret location, unknown even to many locals, and hemmed in by industrial and commercial properties. But for all the city life of Clackamas County surrounds it, it’s one of the less-tamed areas around Portland.
The three creeks the natural area is named after are: Mt. Scott Creek, Phillips Creek, and Deer Creek. They cross a parcel of land about 89 acres large that houses both wetlands and upland habitat. It’s a protected spot that was purchased by Clackamas County in the 1990s, and was restored by a dedicated team called the Tsunami Crew. These volunteers pulled invasive species and planted over 21,000 native trees.
Their hard work has paid off, and today the area is abundant in native willows, camas, buttercups, and the natural foliage of wetland prairies. This restoration has attracted Pacific Northwest wetland birds, otters, minks, beavers, and deer. The streams also provide haven for Coho salmon and steelhead, as well as a cutthroat trout population.
Don’t expect organized trails when you explore this park, as there are no official paths. However, the space is open to the public, and there are plenty of unofficial routes and deer paths winding through the wetland and oak sanctuary. There are giant meadows, delicate wetland ecosystems, and shady groves to explore.
It’s a perfect place for a quiet amble through the natural world when the city overwhelms. Bring your camera and your native plant guidebook, and keep an eye out for rare white oaks. But please, as always, practice no-trace principals when visiting this area. There are no specific guidelines against bringing dogs, but it's discouraged due to the sensitivity of the area.
To access the site, park at the North Clackamas Aquatic Park at 7300 SE Harmony Road. Walk south from the park and you will see unofficial trails leading into the natural area.