Nature Trails, Creeks, a Pond & Bird Care Center Are Near Downtown Portland
Just three miles from downtown Portland are miles of nature trails in a wildlife sanctuary maintained by the Audubon Society and open to the public from dawn to dusk.
Moss drapes tree branches, while sword ferns and native wildflowers, including vanilla leaf, Fendler’s waterleaf, western trillium and Oregon grape, cover the forest floor. A small stand of old-growth Douglas fir is found within the Sanctuary.
Around the creeks grow salmonberries, Indian plum and maidenhair ferns, while pond lilies bloom in the a pool that rests in a depression of the hilly preserve. The water itself is home to cutthroat trout, crayfish, newts and Pacific giant salamanders.
Many plants bear name tags to help visitors with identification. Interpretive signs along the trails explain the ecology of the area and stress the interconnectedness of the plants and wildlife that inhabit the terrain.
Benches allow visitors to rest and observe, listen for birds, and watch for animals. Boardwalks provide easier navigation over marshy areas, and overlooks are plentiful.
The sanctuary is set into Portland’s Forest Park, where Sanctuary trails connect to more than 70 trails that extend through this urban forest.
Owls, Falcons on View in Wildlife Care Facility
While this tranquil area may be reason enough to visit, the sanctuary offers more.
Visitors also have an opportunity to view raptors recovering from injury at the Audubon’s wildlife care facility. A menagerie of educational birds – a great horned owl, northern spotted owl, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine Falcon, and turkey vulture – are permanently housed for public viewing.
The Sanctuary’s Interpretive Center helps tie the various threads of wildlife observation together. Exhibits include more than a dozen models of birds and native wildlife, hands-on ecology displays and photographs. Couches and soft chairs invite visitors to sit awhile and browse well-illustrated birding books.
Birdhouses and Kids’ Books at the Nature Store
The nature store is a favorite gift-shopping stop for outdoor lovers. Here you’ll find an abundance of nature-themed gifts and books for adults and children, plus birdhouses and seed blends, binoculars and trail equipment.
Store staff can also provide information on the numerous Audubon events and trips that are scheduled each year. Events include international and domestic birding trips, Elderhostel Birding, classes, field trips, short walks, and birding weekends. Children’s camps are held at the sanctuary every summer.
The Sanctuary is located at 5151 NW Cornell Road. From the intersection of NW 23rd Avenue and Lovejoy Street, it can be reached by heading west on Lovejoy, which turns into Cornell Road. It’s about a five-minute drive from the 23rd Avenue intersection.
More information and event schedules are available from the Audubon Society of Portland.