Places We Protect

Camassia Natural Area

Oregon

Pink and purple wildflowers along a wooden boardwalk.
Wildflowers at Camassia The purple camas lilies, alongside rosy plectritus and other native wildflowers, line the boardwalk throughout Camassia Natural Area’s wet meadows. © Doug Gorsline

Sculpted by prehistoric floods, this rocky plateau hosts an extraordinary floral diversity.

Overview

Description

Spring 2021 Update

Effective May 24, 2021, this preserve is open to the public. Please be aware that trails are narrow. In consideration of all preserve visitors, we ask you to be considerate and practice physical distancing and wear a face covering if you come into close contact with any other visitors. This property is privately-owned and managed in order to protect the sensitive species that call it home. For this reason, we ask that you stay on marked trails and leave your dog at home. We appreciate your help in protecting the landscape and respecting all those who enjoy it.

The main Loop Trail is now a one-way trail. We are asking all visitors to walk this trail in a counterclockwise fashion to limit people passing each other on the trail. Please walk to the right at the main entrance sign accessed via Walnut St.

(Updated 5/24/2021)

 


 

What Makes Camassia Special

Named for the common camas (Camassia quamash) which profusely blooms here in April and early May, this preserve hosts more than 300 plant species.

The preserve's rocky plateau provides a glimpse into ancient history – when the Bretz Floods poured down the Columbia River Gorge and into the Willamette Valley 12,000 to 19,000 years ago. The floods swept soil and vegetation from parts of the valley and deposited granitic boulders (called "glacial erratics") from as far away as Canada. One of the larger glacial erratics found at the preserve is on display at the main signboard.

 

What We Have Done/Are Doing

For years, TNC volunteers have worked to improve habitats and maintain trails for visitors at Camassia Natural Area. In the spring, volunteer naturalists are present during the weekends to orient visitors to the preserve and its ecology and common plants.

TNC focuses on protecting Oregon white oaks and the spring wildflowers that bloom profusely in the meadows, while also reducing woody fuels that could worsen the impact of wildfires. Natural areas throughout the Willamette Valley were historically managed with fires, which allowed prairie plants and Oregon white oak trees to flourish. Without fire, shrubs and trees can quickly grow into once open habitats. Douglas fir trees, common throughout Western Oregon, grow faster than oak trees and they can shade out and kill the oaks. In order to protect the oaks at Camassia Natural Area, TNC removed fir and other trees competing with white oak trees. Other efforts have removed invasive species and shrubs from the meadows at Camassia Natural Area. Due to the collective impact of volunteers, common invasive plants like Himalayan blackberry, Scot’s broom and English ivy have been significantly reduced. Native wildflower and grass seeds are distributed to bolster populations of native prairie plants.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Please stay on trails, follow all visit guidelines, & do not bring dogs/pets

Size

26 acres

Explore our work in Oregon

This property is privately-owned and managed in order to protect the sensitive species that call it home. For this reason, we ask that you stay on marked trails and leave your dog at home.

The preserve is signed, with an interpretive board indicating trails. Trails are muddy in spring and the boardwalk can be very slippery. Watch out for poison oak.

 


 

What to See: Plants

Common camas—historically a highly-valued food source of Pacific Northwest Native Americans—blooms in April and early May, creating a stunning contrast to dark basalt bedrock and green mosses. More than 400 plant species are found on the preserve, including some rare Willamette Valley species (e.g., the rare white rock larkspur occurs here and at only six other places in the world). The shallow soils of this rocky plateau support wet meadows, Oregon white oak-madrone woodlands, vernal and permanent ponds, and even a stand of quaking aspen.

 

What to See: Animals

The preserve provides habitat for many well-known bird species, including osprey, hairy woodpecker, spotted towhee, and golden-crowned kinglet.

 

Please observe the following guidelines while hiking:

  • Stay on the trail. Don't collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers.
  • No dogs. Preserves harbor ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance.
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles. Native plants and research sites are easily trampled.
  • No hunting, camping or campfires.
  • For groups of 10 or more, please contact us before visiting a preserve (a volunteer naturalist guide may be available).
  • Please bring a bag and carry out any trash you find.
  • Please report to us any problems you observe (e.g., camping, plant removal, hunting, off-road vehicle damage, etc).

TRAILS

Main Loop Trail: 3,000 feet
(Updated 5/24/2021) The Main Loop Trail is now a one-way trail. We are asking visitors to walk this trail in a counterclockwise fashion to limit people passing each other on the trail. Please walk to the right at the main entrance sign accessed via Walnut St. This trail meanders through oak woodlands and rocky meadows and loops back to the entrance. Visitors may see or hear resident and native birds, including a pair of osprey that nest nearby every spring, as well as other wildlife, including amphibians, snakes, deer and small mammals.

High School Natural Area Trail: 250 feet
Steps and switchbacks lead to a bridge over a small creek, ending at West Linn High School’s Natural Area.

Northern High School Trail: 550 feet
Some steep sections and rocks, as well as boardwalks, leads to West Linn School District property.

Terrace Trail: 800 feet
This trail climbs up to the Terrace Meadow (Marker #9) and continues on to Wilderness Park.

Pond Trail: 330 feet
Mostly flat trail along bare ground that leads to a pond in the middle of the preserve.

 

TRAIL ACCESSIBILITY

All of the trails at Camassia are rated difficult for individuals using mobility devices. Trails are a mix of boardwalks, bare ground, and wood chips with some rock and boulders in the trails in sections. The boardwalks are interspersed throughout the loop trail and are elevated several inches above the ground. There is a set of 5 wooden stairs with a railing along the loop trail. There are no services along the path.

Trail width: The trail width typically varies from 2-3 feet. There are several narrow areas that are approximately 1 foot wide, due to boulders or stumps located adjacent to the trail. The boardwalks are 2 feet wide.

Trail grade: The typical trail grade is 0-5% slope and the maximum trail grade is 12%

Trail cross slope: Typical trail cross slope is 0-2 degrees of slope and the maximum is 5 degrees.

Obstacles: Transitions between ground and boardwalks and rocks and boulders in the trail.

Stand Up for Nature in Oregon

The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends, and for nearly 60 years, we've been working in Oregon to do just that. We're bringing people together to solve the biggest conservation challenges of our time by transforming policy, inspiring communities to take action, protecting vital habitats and natural resources and improving livelihoods.