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Mary S. Young Park Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Shallow lagoon on the Willamette River beach, Mary S. Young Park (bobcat)
Boardwalk near Turkey Creek, Mary S. Young Park (bobcat)
Maidenhair fern, Mary S. Young Park (bobcat)
The floating bridge to Cedar Island (bobcat)
Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), Cedar Island (bobcat)
Great hedge nettle (Stachys cooleyae), Mary S. Young Park (bobcat)
Loop around Mary S. Young State Park (bobcat)



The loop described takes you around the periphery of the 133-acre Mary S. Young Park, with a spur to Cedar Island Nature Park, reached by a floating pedestrian bridge from spring into fall. Mary S. Young is a former state park that is now administered by the City of West Linn. The mixed forest around the park periphery and on the river bench supports a vibrant bird life as well as many native wildflowers. The hike also offers a stroll along a Willamette River shoreline of volcanic rock as well as both cobbled and sandy beaches.

Loop route (see map link below): Turkey Creek Trail - Riverside Loop (anticlockwise) - Cedar Island - return to parking via Riverside Trail - Heron Creek Loop

At the parking area, study the map. From here, head into woods of Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple and western hemlock. Cross the Trillium Trail, and go right on the Turkey Creek Trail at a yellow fire hydrant, entering a grand fir, big-leaf maple, sword fern and vine maple forest. At a junction, keep left under cedar trees. Ivy is everywhere. The trail descends to Turkey Creek down wooden steps and then a boardwalk. Blackberries, horsetails and skunk-cabbage grow in the gully. A rare urban population of mountain beaver lives on these slopes: keep your eyes sharp. Join the paved Riverside Loop and go left, then right around a bend and recross Turkey Creek. The trail heads below a bench in woods that have been cleared of ivy. After crossing Mary S. Young Creek in a blackberry thicket, you should leave the paved trail as it curves back. Go down to the Willamette River under willows, red osier dogwood, and cottonwoods. The trail reaches a beach and backwater where the creek empties into the river. Shore flowers bloom here from summer into fall. Keeping along the shore, you'll pass over a rocky promontory and pick up a footpath which parallels the Riverside Loop. After the third small beach, a floating footbridge leads to Cedar Island.

Cross the bridge and walk along the cobbled shore of the island. Young cottonwoods form the principal growth in the middle of the island. Watch for beaver (the water-loving kind) here in the early morning or evening. Large homes in Jennings Lodge line the bank across from the island. Closer to the tip of the island, the beach becomes sandier. Then head along the shore of the island’s lagoon, which was excavated for gravel in the past. Apparently there is excellent bass fishing here. The footpath surface becomes muddier, and the trail rises above the steep bank and a fishing platform. There are more fishing platforms and, at the end of the lagoon, you can head into the center of the island through willows, ash, and cottonwoods.

On the mainland again, walk inland under willows from the small beach. Head up the low bluff into the woods, keeping right on the Beaver Trail. This leads around a pump station fence and reaches the Nixon Avenue entrance to the park. A trail leads left back into the park. Then turn right when you hit the paved Riverside Loop Trail. Heading uphill past large cherry laurel bushes, take a left for a viewpoint trail which loops around a small field. There’s a bench here under Douglas-firs with a view past tall cottonwoods to the river. Back on the Riverside Loop, keep rising and follow a paved trail left past the picnic area. Pass some restrooms and a covered picnic area, then the parking lot on the right, to join the bark chip Heron Creek Loop.

Walking along this trail, you'll have playing fields to the right and homes to the left. After entering the woods, cross Deer Foot Creek and come to the junction with the Fern Trail. Stay left here and then veer to the right. You'll pass Carol’s Stop, a memorial bench in a diverse woodland of grand fir, Douglas-fir, hemlock, vine maple, big-leaf maple, Oregon ash, western red-cedar, sword fern and ivy. Also look for tall false hellebores in these woods; they bloom in early summer. You'll continue past another junction with the Fern Trail, and then cross the Trillium Trail. After crossing the entrance road, continue on the Heron Creek Loop. At the junction with the Railroad Trail, keep left and head back into woods above a gully. The trail switchbacks down into the gully and then switchbacks up again. Then the trail descends to cross another gully under oak, ash, Douglas-fir, cedar, grand fir and big-leaf maple. Ivy makes a thick ground cover here, but it has been pulled from the trees. After you pass a big Douglas-fir, you'll come to the junction with the Turkey Creek Trail, where you should go left. Then go right at the yellow fire hydrant and head back to parking.

Historical note: Mary Hoadly Scarborough Young (b. 1891) was a wealthy resident of Lake Oswego, active in the development of parks and gardens, who purchased the property as a gift to her husband. The latter refused the gift, supposedly objecting to its extravagance. Mary left the mostly undeveloped property to the State of Oregon, rather than Lake Oswego, in her will, the story being that she objected to a speeding ticket issued by a Lake Oswego police officer. The stipulation was that the acreage be kept as near as possible to a natural state. The park opened in 1973 and is now operated by the West Linn Parks and Recreation Department.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash; there is a dedicated off-leash area
  • Floating bridge to Cedar Island open spring into fall
  • Playing fields are busy on Saturdays (and parking lots can be full then)


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Discovering Portland Parks by Owen Wozniak
  • Urban Trails: Portland by Eli Boschetto
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine edited by Michael C. Houck and M.J. Cody
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • The Willamette River Field Guide by Travis Williams
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

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.

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