Saturday, April 29, 2006

Powell Butte Photo Blog

Portland, Oregon, is known by many names. The City of Roses, dedicated to the massive rose garden in Washington park among other things. The City of Bridges, for it's parade of interesting and historic bridges spanning the Willamette River. The City that Works, called so by the city government in an attempt to mirage what they are actually doing or not doing.
But it's also a city of parks. In it's attempt to control growth by increasing the density of the urban area, mostly by decreasing lot sizes, lots of attention and effort is put forth to preserve as much green space as possible, perhaps to counteract the increasing density of people. There are many neighborhood parks, with the well manicured grass and the play structures. Possibly a baseball/softball diamond or two. But there are some major parks that defy that normal urban park design. They are wild, with no manicured grass. No play structures. The object of their existence is to bring a little nature into the city, and at the same time give those of us who enjoy a little hike through the forest and a good view of the mountains and the city a place to roam.
One of these parks is Powell Butte.

Walnut Orchard at the top of Powell Butte

From the park's pamphlet:
Powell Butte's recent history begins with the purchase of the 556 acre Wilson Homestead in 1925 by the City of Portland. The City's early recognition that Powell Butte's location and elevation would be of high value as a water reservoir site was first utilized in the 1960s when two above ground tanks were constructed by Powell Valley Road Water District. This was followed by Portland Water Bureau's completion of a 50 million gallon underground reservoir in 1980, and a 66 inch water transmission line linking Powell Butte to Washington County in 1983.
The park is now about 600 acres, and includes large meadows and dark stands of Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar, all through which wind miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horse back riders.

The Cougar trail, along with the Cedar Grove
Trail, offer lush forests with huge trees.

Meadows looking at the top of the butte.
The reservoir is barely noticeable.

There are parts of the park that are off limits to humans, for the sake of wildlife. They do get out and about though, so it's possible to see deer, several species of birds, bugs, and reptiles.
You get the full range of meadow and forest plant life too.

One of numerous wildflowers in the forest

East Portland is unique in that it is littered with small dormant volcanoes. These small mountains perk up several hundred feet above the surrounding neighborhoods. Many of them have been designated as city parks, such as Mt. Tabor, Rocky Butte and Powell Butte. Powell Butte is a lava dome in a chain of such volcanoes known as the Boring Lava Domes. It is much flatter on top than most of the other volcanoes in the area, and thus the hiking isn't quite as steep.

From the top of the butte you can see in almost all directions, and near the orchard there are some park benches and a circular set of arrows placed in the ground pointing to various features that you can see from there. On a good day (which when these shots were taken, it was pretty hazy) you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Jefferson, as well as the city of Gresham and the Columbia Gorge.

If you live in Portland, or are in the area, spend a couple of hours wandering around on the Butte. It's one of the gems of the Portland Park system.

Looking up through the decayed trunk of an old tree

Cedar grove

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