Camassia Natural Area

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.


The hills of West Linn, above the Clackamas and Willamette rivers, in Northwest Oregon


26 acres

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Conservancy volunteers are restoring Oregon white oak woodlands by removing invasive Douglas-fir trees. Populations of the rare white rock larkspur are monitored by Conservancy 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 Scots 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).
  • Drive S from Portland on Highway 43 (SW Macadam Avenue) through Lake Oswego to West Linn OR drive S from Portland on I-205 to the West Linn Exit # 8 and turn left at the end of the exit ramp.
  • After going under the highway, turn uphill onto Willamette Falls Drive just before the gas station.  (This is the last right turn before coming to the bridge over the Willamette River, so if you find yourself on the bridge, you went too far).  
  • After one block, Willamette Falls Road turns 90 degrees to the left; continue on Willamette Falls Road for .25 mile.
  • Veer right onto Sunset Avenue, which continues uphill, passing over I-205.  
  • Take the first right onto Walnut Street, which ends at the preserve entrance and parking area.

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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