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Tryon Creek Outer Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Tryon Creek, Tryon Creek State Natural Area (bobcat)
Stone Bridge (replaced in 2014), Iron Mountain Trail, Tryon Creek State Natural Area (bobcat)
Trilliums, Tryon Creek State Natural Area (bobcat)
False hellebore leaves, Tryon Creek State Natural Area (bobcat)
Pacific sideband snail (Monadenia fidelis), Tryon Creek State Natural Area (bobcat)
Map of the outer loop around Tryon Creek State Park (bobcat) Courtesy: Oregon State Parks

Contents

Hike Description

Tryon Creek State Natural Area is an urban jewel, a lush, wooded reminder of the thick vegetation that once cloaked the southwest hills of the Portland area. This state park, formed in 1970, spans both Portland and Lake Oswego and offers an intricate network of well-loved hiking, biking and horse trails. Volunteers have tamed some of the invasive ivy, cherry laurel and English holly although much work needs to be done. The area was logged intermittently into the 1960s and fires and windstorms also raged through here, so visitors hike under a 50-100 year canopy but a surprising variety of native forest flowers are fully established. So too are a wide variety of forest critters, such as coyotes, deer, skunks, foxes, flying squirrels, shrew moles, brush rabbits, and six species of salamanders - this spectrum includes the impressively large Pacific giant salamander! Beaver are sometimes active along the creek, and the striking pileated woodpecker is present all year. Several species of owl inhabit the woods here. The loop described takes you around the outer edges of the park and requires a stroll along suburban Lake Oswego streets before diving back into the lush greenery via an old orchard. These are wide, well-signed trails, but they can get muddy and slick when wet. There is a concerted effort to restore spawning habitat to the creek, so keep all two- and four-pawed creatures out of the water.

The park is named after Socrates Tryon, Jr., who owned these 645 acres in the mid-19th century and then sold out to the Oregon Iron Company in 1874. The forests here were heavily logged by Lake Oswego's iron industry for charcoal production.

Go left at the Nature Center and then left again on the Ruth Pennington Trillium Trail. This is a paved loop under Douglas-firs, cedars and maples, with grand fir, yew, and cedar also present. Sword fern dominates the understory. Many different kinds of plants are labeled. Keep left at a junction for the Upper Loop in a carpet of waterleaf. Reach a viewing platform over a lush forested gully. At a junction, bear left on the Lower Loop down to another viewing platform. The trail winds up after this to a junction, where you go left. In short order, make a left turn at the next junction, and head out to the Old Main Trail.

Make a left here on this very wide path through the lush woods. At the junction with the Big Fir Trail, keep left for Obie’s Bridge. There are views down to the left to a lush gully. At the junction with the Red Fox Trail, turn left and make four switchbacks down to cross the Red Fox Bridge over Tryon Creek and head up to the junction with the South Creek Trail. There are views of the alder and maple-shaded creek down to the left. The trail undulates under mossy maples, cedars, and alders. Drop down to an open area that has recently seen work on the installation of an underground pipe. At the junction with the Iron Mountain Trail, go right. There’s a view of the Iron Mountain Bridge to the left: the trail leads up to the Iron Mountain Trailhead on Terwilliger Boulevard. The Iron Mountain Trail, an old logging road from the charcoal making days, heads up Nettle Creek under cedar, maple, and alder. Pass a skunk-cabbage/horsetail swamp and cross the Nettle Creek Bridge. This spot is where the Stone Bridge once stood, but the structure and its culvert impeded fish passage, so the bridge was replaced in 2014. The trail, lined with Indian plum and salmonberry, now heads up more steeply under cottonwoods and alders. Finally, reach Andrews Road and go right to make an immediate right onto Atwater Road. In one block, go right at a junction for Red Fox Hills and Boca Ratan. The road drops as you keep along Boca Ratan Drive, passing many cul-de-sacs to the left. Houses on the right front the state park. The road rises to a T-junction with Bonniebrae Drive. Make a right on Boca Ratan and keep on it until you reach the Red Fox Trailhead.

The trail heads down through a hawthorn/apple orchard. Soon, enter the woods again and drop down among alder, maple, hemlock, and cedar. At the junction with the Cedar Trail, go left. The trail levels on a bluff overlooking the creek. Drop into a gully and cross a footbridge over a creek. The trail rises on steps and passes a large stump. Then the path levels among salmonberries. A carpet of waterleaf lines the trail. The path rises to the junction with the Hemlock Trail, where you bear right. Down to the right is a seasonal pool dominated by a large cottonwood. The trail drops to Bunk Bridge, which crosses Park Creek. Then traverse up and level under cedars and maples. A spur leads left to a hollow cedar log. At the junction with the West Horse Trail, go gently up under alders to the junction with the Englewood Horse Trail, where you need to keep right. The trail gradually drops in mixed forest to an unmarked junction. Keep descending to the junction with the Boones Ferry Horse Trail, where you turn right. Descend past a little clump of false hellebores and, at a junction, go left for the High Bridge. Drop steeply to a junction, where you bear left to cross the High Bridge over Tryon Creek. The trail from the North Creek Trailhead on Boones Ferry Road also comes in here. Look for crawdads in the creek as you cross the High Bridge.

After crossing the bridge, make a left on the Lewis & Clark Hiking Trail with the creek running down to the left. Head up in Douglas-fir woods and then drop to cross the swaying Terry Riley Bridge, after which the trail switchbacks up. Keep right at the junction with the 4th Avenue Trail noticing how ivy has taken over this section of the park. The trail levels, drops into a gully, rises, and then drops to a section rerouted around a slide. Ascend some steps to a junction, where you keep left. The trail rises among an invasive tangle of holly, English laurel, and ivy. At an unmarked junction, go left and down to the junction with the North Horse Loop. Here, proceed right and steadily drop downhill on this wide hard-packed trail. At a junction, turn left for Equestrian Parking. The trail rises to a junction, where you go right and drop down into a gully. Rise to an unmarked junction, where make a right and drop to another junction. Here, step to the left on the Maple Ridge Trail. This trail heads on the level past the viewing gazebo to the Nature Center and trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Bicycles on paved trails only
  • Open 7:00 a.m. to dusk
  • Nature Center open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily
  • Picnic area near Nature Center
  • Brochures available at various trailheads, bridges, and junctions.

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

Note that each of the guidebooks below offers a somewhat different itinerary around the state park:

  • A Forest in the City: Your Guide to Tryon Creek State Park by Friends of Tryon Creek
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Portland Hikes by Art Bernstein & Andrew Jackman
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland & Northwest Oregon by Rob & Roberta Lowe
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Peaceful Places: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Oregon HIking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Pacific Northwest Hiking by Scott Leonard & Sean Patrick Hill
  • Off-Street Paved Bike Paths in Oregon by Rick Branson
  • Oregon State Parks: A Complete Recreation Guide by Jan Bannan
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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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.