Illustration by Ada Barbee

Tryon Creek State Natural Area: the hidden gem adjacent to the campus

One does not need to go far for an adventure at Lewis & Clark; Tryon Creek State Natural Area is just around the corner. Though the word “hiking” implies some glorious, long trek through the wilderness, it does not have to be that intense. Tryon Creek is perfect for student hikers looking to be surrounded by nature, but who may be too busy or wary of spending transportation money for more distant and advanced trails.

There are two main hiking routes in Tryon Creek: the inner loop and the outer loop. The outer loop is 5.7 miles and encircles much of the park. It is both the longer and more intensive of the two, as well as the less crowded.

The inner loop, spanning 1.9 miles, is a very short hike in comparison to the outer loop, which is already relatively short. It is also the flatter of the two main routes, and the most crowded. Bear in mind this means that you are far more likely to encounter people with cute dogs that you can pet (with permission).

There are few must-see attractions in the park, but it is worth it to stop for any views that catch your eye, especially if you find yourself crossing a bridge, the creeks below are mesmerizing to watch.

Tryon Creek is unique in that it is the only Oregon state park within a metropolitan area, but it is easy to forget that when within the park itself, since it is so rich with nature and wildlife. 

Tryon opens at 7 a.m. every morning and closes near sunset, ranging from 5 to 9 p.m. depending on the season. It is within walking distance of LC, so be sure to explore this gem of Southwest Portland.

Though perhaps understimulating for more advanced hikers, Tryon Creek is a great hiking spot for many because it is very accessible and versatile. For example, if you would like to go on a longer hike, you can mix the trails of the inner and outer loops, but if you would prefer a shorter and easier hike, you can easily shorten it or make your own trail plan. Be sure to bring water, food and a first aid kit just in case (especially if you are going on the outer loop). Grab a map at the visitors’ center to examine the trails first, and enjoy a short break in the midst of classwork.

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