As one travels around the Portland Metro area here in Oregon and Southwest Washington, it quickly becomes apparent that people in this area love their parks. There are parks everywhere – small neighborhood parks, larger community parks, and big urban parks. In fact, it can often seem like one cannot travel more than a mile or two before coming across a park of some kind on some corner somewhere or tucked away into a natural area that is given away only by the driveway leading to it and a nondescript sign at the entrance. Such was the case when I found Mary S. Young Park in the city of West Linn, located just 13 miles south of downtown Portland.
Driving along a beautiful tree-lined avenue on my way to meet up with a friend for lunch in Lake Oswego, I saw a sign for a park at a relatively small driveway – and being as how I was going to be very early for our lunch date, I quickly took a right-hand turn and found myself driving down what looked to be someone’s driveway, the trees on either side fully leafed out in spring-time greenery, and the sky overhead a brilliant blue. Wow! What have I come across here? A treasure that only the locals know about?
After the drive through the trees, one comes upon a large grassy area with several baseball diamonds on the right and a large open dog park on the left, with a huge parking lot. The parking lot gives away the amount of activities that can and do take place here – not only the athletics, but the miles of hiking trails, the numerous picnic benches, the walks down to the Willamette River – it’s very easy to forget that you’re in a city! Indeed, a treasure!
Dinah and I spent some time at the dog park, sitting in the sun, watching the the other dogs play catch, listening to the birds, chatting with other dog people – it was indeed a perfect day at the park.
There are miles of trails at Mary S. Young – some sources say 5-8 miles of trails are within the park itself. For an idea of the extensive network of trails, check out the trail map here – Dinah and I didn’t go very far down the trail but the one we walked on was peaceful and quiet, except for the birds and squirrels, of course!
On the trail we walked on, there are wooden signs along the way that tell about the vegetation growing nearby. Each post is protected from the wet Oregon weather so one could actually walk along this path in the rain and still be able to learn about the trees and other plants.
So if you’re anywhere near Portland in the future, or even live here now, check out this amazing park in the City of West Linn. Take a picnic lunch, grab the dog and your walking shoes, and spend an afternoon just enjoying some peace and quiet in the city – you won’t be disappointed!