Powell Butte Nature Park

When we moved up here, we struggled to find appropriate places we could bring the dog with us. We were used to being able to take him, and occasionally the cat, on all of our hikes, errands, Sonic runs (he lives for his ‘small water with extra ice’), etc. Unfortunately, living in an area with a high percentage of pet owners means that everyone else also feels entitled to bring their dog with them. Quite a few of the people we have met have been wonderful, caring individuals with dogs who are well-trained and mindful of their surroundings. Just as many have brought untrained, aggressive, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, timid, dogs to public places before they perhaps should have.

Anyway, we have been trying to find a place that combines our love of hiking and wildlife-watching with a distinct lack of people. It’s more difficult than you might expect. However, we have discovered the secret to hiking in the Northwest: no one else gets up before 9am*.

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All the dog really wants are things to climb on.

We arrived at Powell Butte early one sunny morning. There were maybe a dozen people preparing to head out to the nearly 9 miles of trails scattered through the volcanic site. The area allows for quite a few hiking companions: dogs, horses, service animals, children. And hey, you can’t go wrong with hummingbirds, right? Several Anna’s hummingbirds were flitting about and giving their best impression of cicada calls.

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The trails through the prairie areas were nice, and the pup got a kick out of seeing garter snakes out sunning themselves. At the top of the butte is a compass with the names of the nearby mountains which surround the park. Through the hazy light, we could just barely make out a few peaks in the distance.

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After circling the summit, the trail winds down toward a wooded area near an old orchard. While we were walking, a small doe came out to investigate the dog. He stood stock still while she came closer to us through the brush, and then she heard the *click* of the camera getting turned on and hopped to the side of the trail.  Even though she was completely fine with the dog, who apparently resembled a miniature deer or something, she was definitely not ok with us standing near him.
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We continued our circuit of the park, complete with foraging towhees, fox sparrows, and juncoes, before we headed back to the trailhead for the trip home. You know you’ve had a good hike when you come home with a tired and happy dog.

*Ok, patently untrue. But enough people don’t get up before this time that the amount of people you run into on trails approaches zero. If you hit the trails at sunrise and are leaving around lunch, you’ve missed 75% of the people using the trails.


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