Park Creek Flowers

If any of you are going to hike the Three Pyramids trail or just driving along Hwy 22 and want to do some roadside botanizing, be sure to check out the Park Creek area (also known as The Parks). I stopped by there for a quick look this weekend on my way back from visiting some wet meadows in Clackamas County. I wish I’d had more time as it was really colorful. To get there, head north of Santiam Junction on Hwy 22 for 4.6 miles. Turn left onto Lava Lake Meadow Road 2067. There will be a sign for “Old Cacades trails”.

Park Creek

Gorgeous flowers blooming along Park Creek

At about .9 mile, there’s a long stretch of blooming Horkelia fusca along the righthand side of the road. At an intersection on the right about .2 mile farther, a large patch of Heuchera chlorantha is all budded up. These are 2 plants I rarely see. There are Platanthera stricta and fading Dodecatheon jeffreyi and many other things in the wet ditches on the sides of the road from here to the bridge, another .7 mile away. From the bridge you can get down to the creek and some wet areas on either side of the road. There are willows and Viburnum edule (both finished blooming) and lots of Trautvetteria caroliniensis in bloom. Take a right after the bridge and in about .2 mile you’ll see a side road going off to the left. Park around here and walk down to the creek on your right. On 4th of July, I was greeted by a patriotic display of red Castilleja miniata (a few Castilleja suksdorfii are also starting), loads of white cow parsnip on the far side of the creek and gorgeous blue-purple Lupinus polyphyllus. There is also a lot of fresh Senecio (Packera) pseudaurea, Platanthera dilatata, Sisyrinchium angustifolium, and lots more to see there. A month ago, I was in this area, and it was filled with blooming willows, Lonicera caerulea, and L. involucrata, Caltha leptosepala, and Viola adunca. Later in the year there is white Ranunculus aquatilis in the creek and goldenrod on the banks. It has a long season of great bloom, good butterflies, and the winding creek is really beautiful. The far bank has lots of dwarf birch and there are many other interesting shrubs in the area.

I didn’t have time to go farther this time, but usually I go to the next bridge 1.75 miles after the first bridge. Lots of lupines, Viburnum edule, and other pretty things there as well. There are places you can explore much farther into the creek basin if you have all day. If you are continuing on to the Three Pyramids trailhead, check out the meadow at an intersection 1.2 miles farther up the road. Lots of flowers including more Horkelia fusca. I used to always stop briefly on my way to and from the trailhead, but now I realize the roadside and creekside plants are worth a whole day on their own.

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