Chehalem Ridge 1-8-22

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Chehalem Ridge 1-8-22

Post by bobcat » January 9th, 2022, 4:40 pm

With decent weather upon us, I decided to check out the trail system in Metro’s Chehalem Ridge Nature Park in Washington County. The land was purchased in 2010 from Stimson Lumber and is Metro’s second largest property after the Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Most of the area is 20-35 year-old plantation Douglas-fir, with a few pockets of more diverse vegetation. The trail system is quite convoluted but very well signed, with little maps at every junction and lots of benches and stump stools. Most people would head from the core set of nature trails near the trailhead in one of two directions – west to Iowa Hill, the highest point in the park, or north to descend the west slope of the ridge on the Madrona Trail. Of course, I had to do the whole shebang, which came to 12 ½ miles and about 940 feet in elevation gain.

I began on the central road (Timber Road), and then cut up the Castor Trail to the Woodland Trail, which meanders through a plantation, crossing one grassy corridor with a few oaks before hitting Timber Road again. A bear had made its mark on a tree in one spot. At the north end of the Woodland Trail, a five-foot wide Douglas-fir snag is a relic of the previous forest.

Douglas-fir plantation, Castor Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Oak clearing, Woodland Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Bear scratching, Woodland Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Big Douglas-fir snag, Woodland Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Cedars, Woodland Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg

Back on Timber Road, I crossed Christensen Creek and followed the road uphill to the Mampał Trail (also the junction for the Chehalem Ridge Trail, which heads north from here). The Mampał Trail took me west along a ridge, with a diversion on the Zorzal Trail, to the large meadow on the crest of Iowa Hill. A lone oak stands sentinel here and the grassland has been heavily seeded with lupine. A viewpoint allows you to see west across the Tualatin Valley to Coast Range summits like Trask Mountain and South Saddle Mountain. Bald Peak, the highest point in the Chehalem Mountains, was looming to my left. On a clear day, you should be able to see south to Marys Peak.

Christensen Creek, Timber Road, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Chehalem Ridge-Mampał Trail junction, Timber Road, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
The lone oak, Iowa Hill, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Lupine, Iowa Hill, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Viewing circle, Iowa Hill, Chehalem Ridge.jpg

I returned from Iowa Hill to the intersection with the Chehalem Ridge Trail and headed north. A few fungi had decided to fruit after the December snow. I began to get views through the trees to the Gaston area of the Tualatin Valley. The Chehalem Ridge Trail morphs into the Madrona Trail which takes you down the west slope in a series of switchbacks. The very last segment of the Madrona Trail enters the only truly natural woods on the trail system, mainly Douglas-fir and madrone, and probably left untouched since the Atfalati’s seasonal burns were replaced for a time by settler pasturage before the native forest reestablished itself.

Armillaria popups, Chehalem Ridge Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Questionable mushroom, Chehalem Ridge Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Coral mushroom, Chehalem Ridge Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
View to the Tualatin Valley, Madrona Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Madrones, Madrona Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Madrone copse, Madrona Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Madrone bark, Madrona Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg

I ate my lunch on a stump stool at the end of the Madrona Trail and headed back up 3 ¼ miles to the junction with the Witches Butter Trail. Initially, this trail offers views from a Douglas-fir plantation towards Forest Grove, but then descends into a more varied recovering woodland. In places, there’s a stark green carpet of the invasive du jour, shining geranium (Geranium lucidum) but then I passed a fine old specimen of a Pacific yew before turning off on the Ayeekwa Trail.

Junction with Witches Butter Trail, Chehalem Ridge Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Shining geranium, Witches Butter Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Yew tree, Witches Butter Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Yew bark, Witches Butter Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg

On TKO work parties, I had done some initial brushing out of the Ayeekwa’s trail course, so I was interested in checking out the final result (and also try to flush out the trail's namesake: ayeekwa = Atfalati for ‘bobcat’). In the end, the trail, like all the others in the park, was constructed with machinery, with a three-foot width and gravel added. This area is down by Christensen Creek and is very brushy, taken over in places by Himalayan blackberry, but there are some nice cedars and maples by the creek. Finally, I reached Timber Road again and hiked back to the trailhead, making a diversion on the short Ammefu Trail to get a commanding view towards Hillsboro.

Cedar grove bench, Ayeekwa Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Big bolete, Ayeekwa Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
View to Christensen Creek, Ayeekwa Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg
Fern and moss on maple, Ayeekwa Trail, Chehalem Ridge.jpg

The parking area, with spaces for 80 cars, was almost full by the time I got back. There had been hikers, and a few bikes, on almost every trail, so the park promises to be a busy destination on weekends. On the trails, I had heard quite a lot of Spanish being spoken. I also saw at least four dogs, which are forbidden here as on other Metro properties.

Parking area, Chehalem Ridge.jpg

Metro doesn't provide information/translations for its trail names, so I did my own research:

Chehalem: ‘outside place’ in Atfalati (Northern Kalapuya); also the name given to a local band of the Atfalati
Ayeekwa Trail: ayeekwa is Atfalati for ‘bobcat’
Ammefu Trail: ammefu means ‘mountain’ in Atfalati
Mampał Trail: mampał = 'lake' in Atfalati; probably referring to Wapato Lake, which once existed near Gaston, was converted to onion fields, and part of which now is being restored as a national wildlife refuge.
Zorzal Trail: zorzal = Spanish for ‘thrush’
Castor Trail: castor is Spanish for ‘beaver’
Madrona Trail: the madrone tree (Arbutus menziesii)
Witches Butter Trail: Witch’s butter (Tremella mesenterica) is an orange-colored jelly-like fungus that is parasitic on fungi that inhabit decayed logs.
Iowa Hill: several original settler families in this part of the Tualatin Valley were from Iowa

Chehalem Ridge Trails.png

Metro's trail map: ... _map_2.pdf

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Re: Chehalem Ridge 1-8-22

Post by pinecone » January 9th, 2022, 8:34 pm

Thanks for including the translations! I was wondering what they were when I visited. I headed out there opening day and was pleasantly surprised by the scope of the whole park there. Really nice to have some great trails with distance available on the west side. Hopefully, they will eventually get to installing some interpretive signs, there are some spots that visitors would really benefit from some explanation or history to connect to the area. In particular, the spot near (I think) the end of the Chehalem Ridge Trail is a great example of the effects of forest thinning where one side of the trail is left dense and the other has been managed.
Here's another map view that I worked up after collecting tracks of the trails: ... dge100.jpg

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Re: Chehalem Ridge 1-8-22

Post by Sarah » January 15th, 2022, 2:06 pm

We went out there this morning to hike and run. This is a great little trail system and we hit most of them, returning mostly on the road after summiting Iowa Hill. Definitely popular - we arrived a little after 8am and were the 3rd car in the lot. Upon our return at 11am the lot was full. A little disappointing seeing families with parents coaxing their children up Timber Road when they could’ve been enjoying the side trails, particularly Woodland. To each their own - I don’t think it could be due to lack of signage. I appreciated the maps at the trail junctions.

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Re: Chehalem Ridge 1-8-22

Post by BigBear » January 18th, 2022, 2:46 pm

Hiked up to Iowa Hill on Monday. Probably a half-dozen cars when we started and a half-dozen free spaces when we stopped. Most of the trail users seemed to have limited their exploration to the upper end of the Woodland trail (1 to 3-mile journeys). It's kinda scary to think of the popularity of this trail after only a month of being open, and on a foggy January day. Even with no dogs allowed, it does draw the people. Perhaps its the COVID cabin-fever that's making it such a hit.

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Re: Chehalem Ridge 1-8-22

Post by bobcat » January 19th, 2022, 12:25 pm

I think Metro has pitched this park quite heavily in communities like Aloha, Cornelius, and Forest Grove. This will be their Forest Park. It's a safer feeling, quieter venue than the Gales Creek trails in the Coast Range, for example (no target shooting or ATVs roaring by).

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