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Hike of the Month: Tryon Creek State Natural Area

The 658-acre park offers opportunities to see diverse flora and fauna and hosts the Trillium Festival every April.

Two white trillium and one pink blooms show against a brown leafy floor at Tryon Creek State Park.

Trilliums awaken in late February and early March, turning a reddish purple toward the end of May.

Photo by Ben McBee, PDXtoday

When it comes to wildflowers you can find hiking around Portland, trillium literally stands above the rest. The attractive, three-petaled white (and later dark pink) blooms often stretch up from the forest floor on rigid stems, searching out dappled sunlight.

One of the best places to seek them out is Tryon Creek State Natural Area, a 658-acre park that encompasses a wooded ravine with an expansive trail system. Each April, the Friends of Tryon Creek hosts the Trillium Festival, where volunteers run educational booths, guided walks, and a native plant sale.

Alternating images show the visitor center at Tryon Creek State Park and a sign announcing the new education pavilion, coming in 2024.

The visitors center has information on the region; in 2024, a new education pavilion will debut.

Photos by Ben McBee, PDXtoday

Quick facts

  • Starting point: Tryon Creek State Natural Area (multiple entry points are available)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: Varies depending on route; loops range from 1.2 to 2.8 miles (or more).
  • Route type: Loop
  • Elevation gain: 26-613 ft
  • Trail surface: Soft/dirt
  • Wheelchair accessible: Trillium Trail has 0.37 mile of paved surface with resting benches and viewing decks.
  • Open: Year-round
  • Dog friendly: Yes, leashed

Brief overview

Located just 15 minutes south of downtown Portland, Tryon Creek draws 330,000+ visitors a year — and it’s free. Before setting out, grab a printed map at the visitor center to make sure you stick to your chosen route; there are 8 total miles of trails, with some open to horses.

Tryon Creek, a shallow tributary to the Willamette River, winds through lush green riparian areas among trees just starting to grow spring foliage.

You’ll see illustrated signs to keep people out of restoration zones beside the creek — listen to them.

Photo by Ben McBee, PDXtoday

Why you should try it

Soak in the tranquility among stands of Douglas fir and riparian areas along the creek. The vibrant and varied habitats are a haven for wildlife species; search for kingfishers and pileated woodpeckers up high, blacktail deer and red foxes in the brush, and otters, beavers, and cutthroat trout in the water. At night, flying squirrels and owls take to the skies.

Pro tips

Parking is often hard to come by, so be prepared to find a spot out on the road or start your hike elsewhere, like the Iron Mountain or North Creek trailheads.

Let us know

Did you try this hike? Do you know of one we should check out? Send us your thoughts and recommendations — or check out our other monthly hiking guides.