Monday, July 14, 2014

Powell Butte Park: The Illusion of a Rural Landscape in the Middle of the City of Portland, Oregon

Powell Butte Park: The Illusion of a Rural Landscape in the Middle of the City of Portland, Oregon Lex Loeb Contributor Network . Powell Butte Park is an ancient extinct volcanic cone within the city limits of Portland, Oregon. It is one of the larger parks in the City of Portland with 608 acres. It is almost a square mile of park as 640 acres is the number or acres to the square mile. It seems the City of Portland is intentionally trying to keep the park a bit of a secret because driving down the main street, Powell Blvd, The sign is not visible as the city has set the main entrance sign in a half block off the main road. One can easily pass by many times and have no idea a major park is right there. It is better than the situation down along parts of Johnson Creek Where City Park land has no trespassing signs posted all over the publicly owned land there. Driving up the hillside to the parking lot one sees a sign that says, "Open to all uses." There are several miles of trails in the park open to horse back riding, bike riding, dog walkers, hikers, you name it. It says "All Uses". From the parking lot the Trails gain elevation though forested areas , meadows, fields and old orchards. There are sweeping views above of the surrounding area. One one side of the butte there are views of downtown Portland but most of it has views out over the Columbia to Washington State, the Columbia Gorge, And the rural looking surrounding areas that do not seem as built up as they do down below. The other extinct volcanic cones in the area surround Powell Butte, most with green most unbuilt summits really helps to create the illusion that you are way out in the middle of the countryside and not on top of a hill surrounded by suburban sprawl which is the view from down below. Powell Butte is part of the headwaters for the Johnson Creek system, which probably includes the underground springs that come out down by crystal springs and reed college. The City calls Johnson creek "an urban creek" Salmon have historically run the Johnson creek. There are old stone fish ladders built along it back in the days of the great depression. The topology of Powell Butte is interesting in that it is made up of a number of different hills with dips between them. The park is populated with some wildlife and there is certainly room for it with almost a square mile up there. The park has a gate and it closes at 10 pm. The City has some water works in the park. Originally the plans for the park were as a watershed for collecting urban water supplies after it was purchased by the city maybe in 1925. Finding the park is a bit of a trick. Coming from downtown Portland on SE Powell just turn right on SE 162 and drive a half block to a block in where you will see the sign Powell Butte Park and the Gate. You see the butte from all points down below but this is the only major access road for your car to get access. Usually there are not very many people there. You might even get lucky and have an entire square mile in the middle of the city almost to yourself. So its like having a population density of one person per square mile and it happens to be you. Outside the park population densities are 10-20 thousand people were square mile? It says open to all uses on the sign. Some areas there look like they might be great for walking to the top and hang gliding down the gentile slopes. It is remarkable how quiet is is up there for an urban park and how rural everything around it seems to be. These attributes make it a considerably different type of park than Forest Park is. Powell Butte is worth exploring especially if you have never visited it and live in the Portland Area. .

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