Canemah Bluff Nature Park -- April 26, 2020

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
datura
Posts: 17
Joined: March 13th, 2014, 10:09 am

Canemah Bluff Nature Park -- April 26, 2020

Post by datura » April 28th, 2020, 3:28 pm

Well, this isn't as exciting as many of the other trip reports on the forum, but I'll inflict it on everyone anyway. I hope that this will be the beginning of a series of trip reports on shorter trails in the region, whether in the Portland metro area or elsewhere in the PNW.

This was my first time to the Canemah Bluff Nature Park, one of Portland's Metro Parks and Natural Areas. I had an hour or two available for a short walk, the weather was reasonable, and, well, I'd not been here before.

It is open during the pandemic closures except for the bathrooms, or at least it was this past weekend.

The park is near Oregon City, in the old Canemah historic neighborhood.

https://www.oregonmetro.gov/parks/canem ... ature-park and https://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guid ... _Loop_Hike

canemah bluff 1 apr 2020.jpg

The camas lilies and madrone trees were blooming, for those who enjoy that sort of thing. The poison oak was vigorously sprouting. We also saw a few iris and other spring flowers, though the trilliums were well past their prime. The deciduous trees such as bigleaf maple are leafing out.

canemah bluff 2 apr 2020.jpg

The trails have excellent signage -- it would be difficult to become lost. We covered most of the trails in the park as a result. It's all pretty short, under two miles, I'd guess. Elevation gain is minimal though a couple of stretches are slightly steep-ish. The trails were in good shape except for a few muddy areas from the previous day's rain.



canemah bluff 3 apr 2020.jpg

I was hoping for some interpretive signs about the geology -- the scabland area near the bluff and the slide area on the Old Slide Trail, plus the general geology that can be seen and experienced here. But there was none. The field guide at the metro's website has a little bit, as do the previous mentions of this nature park on the forum. The history signs outside the park are kind of fun, too.

The trails near the bluff are open-ish meadows with some oak and madrone trees and the blooming camas lilies. There is a nice view of the Willamette. The interior of the park is more forested, with lots of bigleaf maples and douglas fir and similar trees and associated smaller plants. Some of the trees are fairly large. A couple of small ponds are seen in the woods as you walk by. We heard birds but didn't see any. We did see a cute little snake, probably a garter snake.

The privately-owned cemetery inside the park looked interesting, but the gates were locked. Oh, well -- I guess I'll have to return someday.

Although never away from traffic noise, it was a peaceful walk, a nice little interlude before I needed to return to the day's chores. It wasn't very crowded in spite of it being a Sunday with reasonable weather, and everyone was careful to allow plenty of space for passing each other.

A visit to this park could easily be combined with visits to other parks as well as being something to do for a little while if you're in the area. The trails themselves are short and easy and would be quite suitable for families. There's even a playground at the trailhead. One of the trails (the Camas Springs Trail, along the bluff with the best river views) is ADA accessible.

canemah bluff 4 apr 2020.jpg

I'm going to remember this one for next fall and winter, when I want to stretch my legs without leaving the Portland metro area. I'm also going to keep an eye out in case some organization does guided hikes here, for the geology or ecology or flora/fauna or history/archaeology, etc. It's an interesting little park and a pleasant area for a walk.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2075
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Canemah Bluff Nature Park -- April 26, 2020

Post by bobcat » April 30th, 2020, 12:49 pm

It's a nice place, especially in the spring. A few years ago, someone with a key let us into the pioneer cemetery. I put a little about the geology in the Field Guide. The uppermost layers of lava are quite young (maybe 2 million years), coming from Highland Butte, a Boring volcano. The lower layers and the cliffs on the West Linn side of the river are Wanapum Basalts from the Columbia Flows, about 15 million years.

datura
Posts: 17
Joined: March 13th, 2014, 10:09 am

Re: Canemah Bluff Nature Park -- April 26, 2020

Post by datura » April 30th, 2020, 3:01 pm

I read all of the information in the field guide and on the forum before I went, to get a sense of what was there. In fact, that's part of why I chose that park for my quick little walk. Thank you for providing the info -- it is very much appreciated!

This little park seems like it would be nice during most seasons, though perhaps not as enjoyable in summer when temps rise and so many great spots at the higher elevations open up.

I didn't see a geologic map of the Canby quad (I only did a quick online search), but the map I found of the nearby Oregon City quad does indeed show various flows of the Wanapum basalt of the Columbia River Basalt Group in the park, along with some Troutdale formation and the Basalt of Canemah lava flows from the local Boring volcano. Plus, of course, landslide deposits, etc.

Do you know if there are any public non-bushwhacking routes up to Highland Butte, and if there's anything interesting to see if one goes there?

There's a cool spot on the West Linn side of the river, off of I-205 near one of the on-ramps, where one can find petrified wood in a baked-soil layer between a couple of lava flows. It is so well-preserved that it still seems like wood.

Parts of Camassia Nature Preserve on the West Linn side of the river have a similar scablands feel. It's closed during the current pandemic.

That was very nice of the person with a key to let you tour the old cemetery. I love the history of these places in addition to all of the other charms of being out and about.

I'm hoping to get out for another short walk today or tomorrow though I haven't decided yet which short local trail to grace with my presence.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2075
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Canemah Bluff Nature Park -- April 26, 2020

Post by bobcat » May 5th, 2020, 8:00 am

I did look into Highland Butte last year as it's one of the three shield volcanoes among the Borings (the others being Larch Mountain and Mount Sylvania). It's on a BLM parcel and there's an old access road to the top (was there a lookout there?). However, there's a big construction project for comm. towers on top (I don't don't know if it's already begun) whereby the road will be developed and the summit scalped to a degree. That will take a year or two. Then I don't know what the access possibilities might be.

datura
Posts: 17
Joined: March 13th, 2014, 10:09 am

Re: Canemah Bluff Nature Park -- April 26, 2020

Post by datura » May 7th, 2020, 10:12 am

Thank you for checking it out! I did see an online reference to a former lookout from the early years of the 20th century until the early 1960s (destroyed in the 1962 Columbus Day storm), so you are absolutely correct about that.

https://oregonlookouts.weebly.com/highland-butte.html

That's very interesting that Highland Butte is a shield volcano, and a rather large one, instead of a cinder cone. It also seems to be one of the oldest of the Boring Volcanic Field eruptions.

It looks like there are some geocaches in the area, so I guess I could track those down to see if there are trails or relatively quiet roads to wander around on.

There's a geologic field trip that visits various Boring Volcanic Field features. One of the stops is in Oregon City, to an outcrop of the Basalt of Canemah. The field trip doesn't go to Highland Butte, though it does visit several other well-known buttes and related geologic features in the Boring Volcanic Field.

The field trip is in "The Boring Volcanic Field of the Portland-Vancouver area, Oregon and Washington: Tectonically anomalous forearc volcanism in an urban setting" by Russell C. Evarts, Richard M. Conrey, Robert J. Fleck, and Jonathan T. Hagstrum, which is p.253-270 in the Geological Society of American's Field Guide 15, Volcanoes to Vineyards: Geologic Field Trips through the Dynamic Landscape of the Pacific Northwest, edited by Jim E. O'Connor, Rebecca J. Dorsey, and Ian P. Madin, 2009.

I found the complete Boring Volcanic Field field trip through google by searching for the "basalt of canemah", yay. I'm sure the rest of the field trips are similarly interesting to those of us with geologic interests. So many fun things to check out!

Here's a direct link to the online Boring Volcanic Field field trip guide: http://web.pdx.edu/~ruzickaa/G200/Borin ... 009%29.pdf

Post Reply