Wildwood Trail - MP 9 to 12 and The Nature TrailFor this section of the trail, we parked off of NW 53rd Street at the trailhead for Dogwood and Wild Cherry Trail. There is "real" off road parking there for 8 or so vehicles, but a lot of surrounding places where you can just pull off the road into the mud. That is what we did.
At this trailhead, you can either go down Dogwood or Wild Cherry until you hit Wildwood, or you can stay up on the ridge and follow the Kiel trail which runs along 53rd until it intersects with Wildwood coming up from the valley. You can also park on 53rd there at the intersection. That is around Wildwood MP 9.25 (it is really marked as 9 1/4, but I can't find the buttons to make a good 1/4 in blogger).
We decide to stay up on the ridge for now, we are doing an out and back today (want to stay off of the big wide Leif Erikson) so we can always drop down to Dogwood on our way back if we desperately need to do some climbing.
|The trail winds in and out of the little creek valleys on the ridge. That is the bottom of a downed tree.|
This is a lovely section of the trail. Most of the way is heavily forested with Alder but there are a few groves of Doug Fir. In some places there are some pretty big Doug Fir. But mostly Alder. (Note: On doing some investigation, perhaps these leafless trees are really Big Leaf Maple. I need to check back in the Spring). And since it is winter and the Alder are deciduous, we have some views of the river and the city. We even have a little sunshine on us on the rare occasion. The undergrowth is also lovely and local. We see a lot of Oregon Grape (the Medium High Variety) and Sword Fern. None of the invasive (and to my mind, ugly) English Ivy or Himalayan Blackberry. It makes for much prettier walking. There is one fern we see a lot of that I think is deer fern. Deer fern can be differentiated from Sword fern because it doesn't have the characteristic sword hilt that you see on the leaves of the Sword fern. These fern, however, are growing up the side of the trees, not climbing on the ground. When I looked then up I found them to be Licorice Fern, (see photo).
|Here the Trail was surrounded with Oregon Grape.|
|The fern on the Tree is Licorice Fern. I think the tree is Alder, but Wiki says this fern grows|
grows almost exclusively on Big Leaf Maple.
We did not see many animals on this hike. My partner saw a squirrel, and I saw a Robin. No big deal except this was the first robin I have seen for the season. That and a few new sprouts seem to indicate that nature doesn't seem to be aware that it is still winter.
At MP 11.25 we crossed Fire Lane 1. This a larger trail (for fire fighter access) and is one of the few trails that allow bikes. Well, I guess I don't know that they allow bikes, but we did have a bike ride past us... There were a couple of picnic tables at the trail intersection and we determined that we would stop here for lunch on our way back around.
|Fire Lane 1. Oregon Grape. Bag O Poop|
This section of the trail from the Trail Head to Fire Lane #1 is all up on the ridge. Mostly flat and easy and fun to walk. After the Fire Lane, the trail snakes down into a little creek valley with a (mostly) clean running creek and a little bridge over. Why are creeks in this park a little cloudy? Not nearly as pristine as creeks you might see up in the Gorge. I mean, I know we are sort of in the city, but I don't think there are any (or many) houses or construction or anything like that up above us, so how does the water get polluted?
We turned around at MP12.
A little word here about signs and mile posts (MPs) in Forest Park. The two main trails (Wildwood - for pedestrians only, and Leif Erikson (for pretty much all non-motorized transport) have mile markers every quarter of a mile. On Wildwood, the markers are on trees. The trees have a blue triangle painted on the wood facing in both ways down the trail at about head height. Then at about 10 feet on the same tree is the actual mile marker on a little wooden plaque. Not sure what the markers look like on Leif. I will get back to you on that. Then there are the excellent trail name signs. There are a few pictures of those above. And at the Major Trail Heads there are metal backed color maps of the park. (like the one below).
|These signs are at major trail heads.|
Coming back, we decided on doing a side jaunt and exited (just past the little bridge) onto the connector trail to The Nature Trail. The Nature Trail winds through below Wildwood for a short distance and gave us a good little climb back up to the picnic benches at Fire Lane #1.
The benches look a bit old but held us up OK.
On the way back we saw more wildlife. This consisted completely of joggers. My, what a lot of joggers on that section of the trail. Men and Women. Groups and singles. Young and Old. But just about all of them decked out in the latest jogging clothing and gear. My the brightness of some of those sneakers! Dude, Black tights, black shirt and bright yellow Sneakers? I think that just says "Look at me, new shoes that I haven't even had on long enough to get muddy!".
It is like the forest is occupied by a new species of animal that like to sneak up behind you and has the characteristic call "On your Left. On your Left. On your Left".
We passed through one big grove of Doug Fir and there I could see the remains of Giants. Old Growth tree stumps. The trees had probably been cut down 100 years ago. These stumps were 4 times larger than any of the biggest living trees. That tells me the area was lumbered. Perhaps strip lumbered, before it was donated to the city as a park. Still, gives some hope that forests can be regrown if we just decide to make room for them.