Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Marshall Park excursion

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...wherein I track down and explore yet another "secret" spot around town. This time it's Marshall Park [map], 25 acres tucked away in the West Hills, just upstream of much larger and better known Tryon Creek State Park. Tryon Creek runs through Marshall Park too, although it's just a small, rushing stream at this point.


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The place isn't actually that secret, compared to the places I usually track down. The city parks website mentions it, there's an official sign at the parking lot, and there are plenty of well-maintained trails through the place. Hell, the surrounding area is officially the Marshall Park Neighborhood. There's even a Friends of Marshall Park group, which organizes volunteer work parties and such. But still, I'd never been there before, and I suspect most people have never heard of the place. Also, an Oregonian article about the park says it's secret, and who am I to argue with our local paper of record?

As part of the Tryon Creek watershed, the park does get a fair bit of attention from the city, and they have a number of official docs about it scattered around their website, including a vegetation summary, a riparian habitat evaluation, and a couple of watershed reports. The latter doc uses the term "Marshall Cascades" for the strech of Tryon Creek in the park, which seems like an appropriate name.

I was interested in the place because I'd heard there was a real, live waterfall here. Which is quite appealing right now with the ~100 degree weather we've been having. Unless I missed something, I think "waterfall" is sort of overstating the case. Experts can quibble about exactly what constitutes a waterfall, but if it isn't taller than me, I don't think it qualifies. What the park really has is a stretch of Tryon Creek rushing and cascading over rocks. Which is still nice and quite photogenic; it just isn't a waterfall. So here are the Marshall Cascades:

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If you'd like to see what they look like when photographed with a "real" camera, by someone who actually knows what they're doing, here's one good example.

When I located the parking lot along SW 18th Place, there weren't any other cars there, so I figured the park would be empty. But it was full of joggers, kids, and people walking dogs. I imagine they all must've been from the neighborhood and didn't need to drive to the park. Another sign the park primarily caters to neighborhood residents is that although the park's full of very well maintained trails, there aren't any maps or signs telling you where they go. I suppose you're just supposed to know that already. I didn't, of course, so I did actually get lost for a brief while. I suppose I could've asked for directions, but being temporarily lost can be kind of fun, so long as it doesn't go on too long. It gets old quickly.

I evenually got my bearings and found the car, and it was off to the office for yet another dumb meeting. Being lost in the forest was a lot better, if you ask me. Sigh...

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