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Graham Oaks Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The elder oak, Tonquin Trail, Graham Oaks (bobcat)
Overlook, Legacy Creek Trail, Graham Oaks (bobcat)
Meadow checker-mallow (Sidalcea campestris), Graham Oaks (bobcat)
Bird blind at wetlands, Tonquin Trail, Graham Oaks (bobcat)
The loop hike around Graham Oaks Nature Park (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Graham Oaks TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Elder Oak Plaza
  • Hike Type: Loop with spurs
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 60 feet
  • High Point: 195 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes



The 250-acre Graham Oaks Nature Park, opened in 2010, ostensibly protects an oak savanna although it is an oak savanna in the making. There is a wood of oaks on the fringe of the park and a single old tree at the Elder Oak Plaza, but the majority of the oaks here are saplings that will take decades to mature. Metro had originally designated this spot to be a landfill, but local lobbying led to the creation of a regional park after Metro purchased the property in 2001. The extensive meadow here, which is former farmland, has been seeded with native plants and the Legacy Creek Trail takes you into lush woods above Legacy Creek, a tributary of Mill Creek.

The trails here are all universal access although the Tonquin Trail is the only wide, paved trail. The park is on the route of the proposed Ice Age Tonquin Trail, a 22-mile route which will run from the banks of the Willamette River in Wilsonville to Cook Park in Tigard and from there hook up with the Fanno Creek Trail. The Ice Age Tonquin Trail will be an interpretive trail that focuses on the causes and effects of the Missoula Floods, the periodic deluges that swept down from what is now western Montana as a series of ice dams were breached at the end of the last Ice Age.

Walk out of the parking area on the paved Gateway Trail. Pass a covered picnic area and an information kiosk, which tells you that the park will resemble an oak savannah in about 100 years. You can also admire the 5,000 pound acorn carved out of basalt by sculptor Mauricio Saldana. Reach a four-way junction and go left on the paved Tonquin Trail, the universal access path that goes through the center of the park. The path heads through an open field with plantings of oak and ponderosa pine as well as various shrubs (There were 15,000 oak saplings planted here). At the next junction, make a left on gravel Coyote Way and then turn left again on the Legacy Creek Trail.

This trail heads into woods of Douglas-fir, red alder, western red-cedar, red elderberry, waterleaf, nettle, and big-leaf maple. Legacy Creek runs in the shady ravine below. Trillium and violets bloom in this wood in the springtime. There are benches where you can sit and contemplate the leafy lushness. The path emerges from the woods at a junction. Go left here to resume the loop on Coyote Way. This area of the park is planted to continue the forest, so there are denser plantings of cedar and Douglas-fir. Mouse netting protects the saplings. The path reaches the edge of an established oak woodland, which the path skirts until it reaches a T-junction with the Oak Woodland Walk.

Go right here and come to a four-way junction with the Tonquin Trail. Go straight on the Arrowhead Trail to a marshy area and footbridge over Arrowhead Creek. Cattails, willow, and cottonwood form the cover. The trail continues to the Inza R. Wood Middle School, so return to the Tonquin Trail and go left. The trail undulates over the fields. A spur leads left to a bird blind over a wetland where red-legged frogs breed. Outlines of the local avifauna form part of the blind screen, and you can hear the melodious calls of red-winged blackbirds. Back on the Tonquin Trail, the next spur leads right up to the Elder Oak Plaza at a fenced circle protecting a 150 - 200-year-old oak. From here, the Tonquin Trail leads back across the main meadow, which blooms with checker-mallow, hawkweed, yarrow, and gummed in the late summer. Reach the Gateway Trail, where you can go right back to the trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs permitted only on the Tonquin Trail and must be leashed
  • Park open 6:30 a.m. to sunset
  • Restrooms, picnic tables


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Peaceful Places: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine edited by Michael C. Houck & M.J. Cody

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.