Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, OR
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

Places We Protect

Camassia Natural Area

Oregon

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

Why You Should Visit

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 rocky plateau was exposed 12,000- 19,000 years ago when the Bretz Floods poured down the present Columbia River Gorge and far into the Willamette Valley. The floods swept soil and vegetation from parts of the valley and deposited granitic boulders (called "glacial erratics") from as far away as Canada.

What We Have Done/Are Doing

TNC volunteers are restoring Oregon white oak woodlands by removing invasive Douglas-fir trees. Populations of the rare white rock larkspur are monitored by TNC ecologists. Researchers also monitor water quality and study ways to minimize the impacts of urban development on the preserve's hydrology.

During spring and summer, volunteers lead guided hikes and teach visitors about the ecology of the preserve. Additionally, teams of volunteers work to eradicate invasive, non-native Scot's Broom from the grassland, and English ivy and Himalayan blackberry from the woodlands. West Linn High School ecology students use the preserve as an outdoor classroom and help keep it litter-free.

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 300 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 the wood duck, California quail, hairy woodpecker, western bluebird and golden-crowned kinglet.

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.

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
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, lead 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.