Lately I’ve been realizing just how many parks there are around Portland that I’ve never been to — many of which are actually quite large (i.e. worth the longer trip to get there). So whenever I have chunks of spare time, I’ve been trying to go on park visits, just to see what’s out there and switch it up a bit.
Other than simply seeing new destinations, new park visits also let me try out different bike routes and fun paths that I’d probably not otherwise take. Cooper Mountain, for example, is a 230-acre park just southwest of Beaverton, jointly managed by Tualatin Hills Parks and Rec and Metro. Since it’s pretty far out, there are tons and tons of fun things in between me and there worth riding, including the Fanno Creek Trail, Westside Trail, and the Murray Powerline Trail. Granted, trying to take as many trails as possible means I’m definitely not taking the direct way there (I’m sure those trails are direct for some purposes, though not for getting to Cooper Mountain). But often the direct way is not the point.
SE Portland to Cooper Mountain and back via trails, intriguing options, and roads I like looks something like this :
I first put Cooper Mountain on my radar because one of my Metro co-workers showed me a bunch of pictures of all the wildflowers currently blooming there — and if there’s something non-bike related that I love, it’s native plants. Also, Cooper Mountain is interesting in that it’s mostly prairie and oak savannah, totally unlike what you may consider the quintessential Pacific Northwest landscape of doug-fir/hemlock/western red cedar (although it has some of that too). Definitely worth checking out for the botanical nerdery alone.
If plants (and birds! so many birds!) don’t do it for you, the views of the Chehalem mountains and the lovely trails are a pretty good draw too.
All those Beaverton multi-use trails are also pretty great. Again, I definitely did not take the direct way anywhere, but the trails that led me on so many detours were totally worth it. The Westside and Murray Powerline trails, for example, the two that led me on that big, out-of-the-way southward loop down to Tualatin and back, were rad. Fanno Creek Trail, which at least in part led me in the right direction (until I took it way further south than I needed to go), was also rad and felt more like a park, since there were various route options along it instead of the simply linear paths of Westside and Powerline.
Say what you will about whether biking should happen on roads shared with cars or on dedicated paths; given the choice, I love paths that have nothing to do with cars. (Though I feel like I should say, lest I cause confusion here, that I fully believe bikes should be safe on roads shared with cars too. Which, as things stand now, are usually the more functional and direct routes.)
The one part of this ride that was definitely not ideal was the segment right before I got to Cooper Mountain, on Rigert Rd and then 175th Ave. That was a relatively long uphill slog, with absolutely no shoulder and heavy traffic. People were considerate of me, but if I went out there again, I would avoid that part by getting off the Powerline Trail earlier and cutting west at Weir Rd.
So there you go! Bike route to Cooper Mountain Nature Park. It’s totally worth the adventure. Heck, even if you didn’t make a bike adventure out of it, the park alone is worth a trip. With over 3 miles of hiking trails and all sorts of awesome stuff to discover, it’s a good day trip. I spent way more time there than I was planning, so bring a picnic, just in case:)
If you need visuals to get you psyched, I have pictures of my trek and Cooper Mountain here, though be warned, they’re mostly of the flowers:)