I needed an escape (more like an excuse) to get out of the house and take in some nature. But I didn’t have time for one of those scenic hikes along the Columbia River Gorge. So I found a trail that was closer.
The Cooper Mountain Nature Park was an easy trail that had an elevation gain of 337 feet and lined with gravel throughout its entire 2.7 miles of hiking path, according to the information I found about this trail online.
I started my iPhone workout app and started walking. I’ve never hiked this trail before so I started the path to the right and followed two older ladies as they entered the trails. They took the first left spur but I continued to hug the far right side of the trail. Since this is the middle of winter, there were not many flowers blooming and no animal life out and about. I decided to myself, “I’ll need to return in the spring.”
Although nature was in hibernation, the weather cooperated and remained dry, which was not the typical winter weather in Portland. Usually there would be a constant light drizzle that kept everything damp. Today was a great surprise. Dry but breezy.
Rounding the first bend, the path opened into a meadow with views of the neighboring hillside. There was an informational placard near the expanse indicating the variety of wild flowers that would otherwise be in full bloom.
I continued further down the path and stumbled onto an object that at first glance looked like a megaphone.
I pulled my ear close to the trumpet and heard the howl of breeze blowing. I would guess instead of the wind, I would be hearing birds and other critters scurrying about.
I followed the path as it meandered and continued its downward grade. As I’m walking along this nice slope I’m was hoping the return trip up was just as nicely sloped.
The path made a sharp left and headed back up the knoll. The grade wasn’t too steep and I made it to the intersection that would have taken me back to the top of the knoll and to where I parked my car in no time.
Instead of making that left, I continued to hug the trail to the right and did the small loop.
The loop trail had a significant grade and was the most invigorating part of the path so far. I noticed several people using this loop as a workout track. I decided to take only one trip around the loop and headed back to the intersection that would take me back up the hill to my awaiting car.
I turned right at the intersection and found a sign stating: “Steep Trail Ahead”. There was no warning as I entered the right side of this trail a half hour previously. So I guess my hope for a nice low grade climb back to the top was not going to happen.
Half way up the hill there was a bend that flattened out which made me think, “That’s it! That was nothing!” The flat part of this trail was only to make you think that was the only steep part of this return leg. Oh but it wasn’t.
Around the next bend the climb returned to an even steeper grade and it added several switchbacks. Prior to the series of switchbacks, there was a bench and another listening trumpet.
I continued passed the resting bench and onto the series of switchbacks. The switchbacks led me into a stand of tall fir trees. Emerging out of the trees the trail finally leveled off and led to the intersection to leave the trail.
Just before reaching the intersection, there was a metal art sculpture resembling the nest of the Western Gray Squirrel. I would guess there would be squirrels out and about if it were not in the dead of winter.
I exited to the right and returned to my car. I ended my iPhone workout app. The total time for this trail took me about an hour to complete. But honestly if I didn’t stop to take pictures and read the signage, I would have completed the trail sooner.
Back to the house…
Hike #2 summary:
- place: Cooper Mountain Nature Park
- miles: 2.7
- trail type: loop
- elevation change: 337′
- weather: overcast and breezy
- temp: 41 degrees
- completion time: 1 hour
#hiking #trails #outdoors #living #coopermountain #singlelife #pacificnorthwest #menshealth #portland