Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Abstract— This article presents facts and general information about the Tryon Creek State Natural Area in Portland, Oregon, USA, Oregon’s only state park within a major metropolitan area.

Introduction

Situated primarily in Portland, Oregon, USA, the Tryon Creek State Natural Area is a well-known state park in the state.

Established in 1922, Oregon’s State Parks system is nearing its first centennial birthday in 2022. As the department plans for the next 100 years it is guided by its mission: “To provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations.” This comprehensive plan for the Tryon Creek State Natural Area (SNA) holds the State Parks mission as its guiding principle, which is recognizing the tremendous natural value of the site within its urban context and the resulting opportunities for recreation and education.

History

Several nomadic tribes, including the Kalapuyan and Chinookan, were centralized in the Willamette Valley and likely inhabited Tryon Creek SNA. In 1850, during the period of western expansion and active European settlement to Oregon, Socrates Hotchkiss Tryon, a Scottish pioneer, claimed land rights in and around present-day Tryon Creek SNA. Twenty-five years later, in 1875, Tryon sold the land to the Oregon Iron Company who heavily logged the forests for charcoal production. Logging continued throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and as the industry slowed in the second half of the century, the area began to be used recreationally by residents who enjoyed walking in the woods and riding their horses to the creek.

It was then that neighbors of Tryon Creek SNA began actively trying to acquire and protect the land so that it could officially become a park. These efforts led to Multnomah County purchasing 45 acres of land in 1969 for a regional park. The Friends of Tryon Creek was formed in 1970 to support the acquisition of additional park property by addressing land-use issues between the two counties.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area officially opened in 1975. The state began purchasing land with federally-matched funds to acquire an additional 600 acres for the park and has acquired property as recently in 1988.

Description and Resources

Tryon Creek and other small surface streams shaped the dissected topography of the landscape. Moderately dense residential development surrounds the park.

Today the site is made up of mostly mid succession forests due to extensive pioneer logging.

Among the plants identified in the park, 42% are non-native, exotic species. Many wildlife species depend on the park as an urban refuge or as a migration stop.

As a refuge, the park is virtually unchanged from the way it was on opening day. However, the metropolitan region around it has transformed considerably. Visitor survey and park records show attendance in the day-use areas have increased nearly 25% in the last decade with the major draws to the park being walking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, nature and wildlife viewing, interpretive programs, summer youth day camps, and special events. Currently, over half a million people visit the park each year.

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