Officially speaking, this jem of a park is located in Aloha, but it is close to Beaverton and as of this writing I don't yet have anything interesting to write about Aloha, so into Beaverton it goes!
Jenkins Estate Park is a reginally historic property, having been owned by relatives of early Portland area pioneers and community members.
There was a plan in the early 1970s to build an extensive development on the property, but it became clear that adequate sewer and water service would not arrive for many years. Thus, the entire 68 acres were sold to the parks district.
Structures include two historic houses (the old farm house and the actual Jenkins house that was finished in 1912), the stables, and a number of other stuctures. Grounds include the home of some of the park's district summer camps, plus playground facilities, and a number of trails through fairly wild forest land as well as through the old gardens. As originally constructed, the gardens included a number of fairly unique plants, and was designed by the gardiner of the prime minister of Canada.
In early spring, be looking for the many trilliums that are beside the trails that go through the wild forested areas.
Several spots on the property have wonderful views looking north and west. The views looking west are particularly nice, as they overlook lands that have not yet been subjected to dense housing development.
Due to the value of the property, the gates are closed past a certain hour. Be careful you don't get locked in!
Pay special attention to the gate closing times posted, and the area at the top of the hill is reserved for the summer camp or events during the summer months.
Keep in mind that the facility is occasionally used for some events. Some of these are private (weddings, company events, etc.) and some of these are public (art shows). Don't be surprised of part of the facility is closed to access.
Of the new parks that have been created in Portland area in recent years, this is probably one of the best. The park features preserved natural habitat and gravel trails through them so that people can experience nature up close.
Right now, the park is on the border between suburbs and farm land, but as the growth of the reason continues, there is likely to be more houses and less farm land in the surrounding countryside.
The views from this hilltop area are wonderful, and there are varous places along the trails that not only show nature at work, but also offer additional wonderful views.
The nature house has solar panels to provide some of the electricity, and has a good supply of literature and other information in it.
Gravel trails lead visitors through the preserved natural lands, and there are many interpretive signs all over the grounds (with yet more on the way). There are a few benches along the pathways as well.
The park is a joint venture between Metro regional government parks and the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation. The web site listed below is the information on the Metro web site. You should also check for information on the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation web site as they are part of the operation of the park.
Photo 1: Typical bridge and gravel trail in the park
Photo 2: At each major trail junction there is a sign with a map on the top post, and directional signs below pointing to the directions the various trails lead.
Photo 3: A view of the Nature Center, including the roof with the solar panels.
Photo 4: Typical view of the surrounding area from the top of the hill.
Photo 5: One of the viewpoints in the park includes this really nice bench setup at the Little Prairie Loop Viewpoint.
Cautions: BEWARE OF POISON OAK in the park.
While the park really is not designed to be a neighborhood park, there is a small playground near the nature center that children seem to really enjoy.
Getting to the park by public transit is a bit of a pain. The nearest bus route is TriMet route 88, which is on SW Bany Road and 170th. There are sidewalks along the roads in places, but in other places walking along the roads is very dangerous because they are narrow and people drive very fast on them. Look carefully at Google Map's aerial photos and trace out a route that goes where there are sidewalks, if you try to do this.
During the winter months, geese, ducks, blue heron, and other birds search out just about any location they can for wintering habitat in the Willamette Valley and surrounding areas. The large ponds at Summerlake Park become populated with these birds sometimes.
In addition to the winter bird life, Summer Lake Park also offers a number of neighborhood recreational opportunities. There is a paved loop all the way around the park. There are a number of picnic tables scattered through the park, and one covered picnic area. Two playgrounds plus wide open fields offer a number of opportunities for children. There is a reasonably wild forested area, plus a cultivated rhododendron garden on the far west side of the park.
The park is connected to a number of neighborhood streets by pathways leading betwee back yards, as well as street access.
Some of the neighborhood houses back right up to the park, without any sort of fence between the park and the house.
There are several islands of preserved wilderness in the Beaverton area. Tualatin Hills Nature Park is one such island, and it is by far the largest such wilderness park near Beaverton.
The park has some 219 acres of land with hiking trails, with mostly second growth forest, plus some marsh land and creeks flowing through it. Some of the hiking trails are paved so that people in wheelchairs may use them. Bicyclists also use the trails. There are a number of benches that overlook the wetlands areas, and some sections of the bridges lead to observation decks that overlook the water.
If you are looking for water birds, you can sometimes find them here. However, keep in mind that the water slowly disappears over the dry summer months so later in the year there is less chance of seeing those birds. Even during the wet months, sometimes the birds are just not here.
As of early 2008, there are approximately 12 deer that have started to live in the park (just how they got into a park completely surrounded by busy roads, residential and commercial areas is an interesting question!), so the assortment of wildlife here continues to improve in diversity. The deer are very shy, and most of the time you will only see them if you keep watching for them very closely.
The park is also the home of the Tualatin Hills Nature Center, which has a number of informative displays about nature within urban areas. This is probably the best nature center of its sort operated by a local parks district in Oregon (the Tryon Creek State Park has a good nature center too, but it is state operated). Adding to the interpretive nature of the park, some of the signs are only a foot off the ground so that any child old enough to read should be able to read the signs without straining the back of their parents.
From the park's parking lot, it is possible to cross Millikan Way, then cross the railroad tracks, and then get on the trail going into the Beaverton Creek Wetlands should you wish to increase the variety of the places you are visiting. A small trail that is part of the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, but much less frequently traveled, runs under the power lines between the north end of the park and Millikan Way. Using this trail will also increase the variety of your walk, and it is possible you will see a red tailed hawk here, which prefers to hunt for small animals here rather than in the thick forest of the rest of the park.
For more photos of the park, please see the Thanksgiving Day 2007 photos.
The web site below is for the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District, which owns and operates the park.
The park is a preserved wetlands area north of the Tualatin Valley Highway, and to the west of the intersection with SW 153rd Drive. Unlike the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, which is virtually across the street, this park is almost completely ignored by local residents, despite its being a good place to look for certain types of wildlife.
The park has a single paved trail running south from SW Millikan Way, and runs the entire length of the wetlands area. Going south from the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, at first this trail is crammed between the railroad right of way and parking lots for commercial properties. The trail then crosses Beaverton Creek on a bridge (seen in the photo), and goes through an area with some recently forested sections.
Getting here by public transit can be interesting. The closest bus route is route 57, which runs on the south side of the park on Tualatin Valley Highway. However, you do not want to drive to the south side of the park because there isn't any public parking there. So, the instructions below are for those driving. For taking public transit bus route 57 is your best bet, or take MAX to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park and visit both park as you will need to walk through that much larger and more diverse park in order to get from MAX to Beaverton Creek Wetlands.
Despite the fact the park is completely surrounded by busy roads and commercial properties, it is reasonably quiet.
The single bench located in the park has a view of the top of Mt. Hood, through the suburban tangle.
I have seen chickadees, towhee, mallard ducks, geese and a red-tailed hawk in this park, and various other birds.
To get to the park from the Tualatin Hills Nature Park parking lot, it is necessary to cross SW Millikan Way, and then cross the railroad tracks on the sidewalk on the south side of Millikan Way. Immediately after crossing to the east side of the railroad line, be looking for a small paved path leading along the edge of the parking lot. This small, narrow trail eventually leads you to the bridge in the photo at the top of the page.
The web site below is for the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District, which operates the park.
In recent years, ongoing efforts have expanded parks and trails running along Fanno Creek. As of this writing (Jan 2008) it is possible to follow the trail from approximately SW Denny Road & 111th (near Highway 2017) south all the way to the Tigard City Hall at SW Hall Blvd. and Edgewood Street. There is a missing trail segment in Tigard (see the Tigard tip on this part of the trail).
In Beaverton, the trail is entirely paved and, except where crossing major roads, fairly quiet considering how close the trail is to highway 217. The trail is entirely paved the entire distance between Denny Road and Scholls Ferry Road. The parklands surrounding the trail are wetlands preserved as a wildlife area, playground areas, and open space for any desired activity. Ducks and geese winter here, and ducks and a number of backyard birds (chickadee, towhee, robins, bushtit,and other small birds) spend all year in the preserved wild lands along the trail.
The trail is a popular place for walking and biking.
South of Hall Blvd. there is a fairly large section with playground equipment, but there are other sections closer to Scholls Ferry Road.
In a few places, even when the weather has been fairly dry, there is sometimes water over the trail surface. After wet weather, expect to have to battle mud, even on the paved trail (this is Oregon after all).
The section of the trail north of Scholls Ferry Road is managed by the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. See web site below. South of Scholls Ferry Road is in Tigard.