Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Trip to Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah

This morning my sister and I got up early and headed out to Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah. Buford park is located at the confluence of the Coast Fork and the Middle Fork of the Willamette River and at 2,363 acres, is the largest park in Lane County. In October of 2010, it was announced that the Wildish Family had agreed to sell to the Nature Conservancy an additional 1,270 acres that included the North slope of Mt. Pisgah and  6 miles of river frontage. This addition is expected to remain in the the hands of the Nature Conservancy for at least 10 years while they work tirelessly to bring the land and river channel back to their original state. After that, it is predicted that the ownership will then switch to Lane County or some other local jurisdiction. Until that period, the new addition to the park, now know as the Willamette Confluence Project, is off limits to the public. However, the Friends of Buford Park have been granted permission to lead tours of the new area. The promise of a tour is what had us up early and out at the park by 9 AM. The tour began near the north boundary of Buford Park. Here there is still an old farm house from the 1930's standing near a meadow.While the house is fairly rundown now, the lower, front half of the house is still covered in beautiful brickwork.

Here is a close-up. What unique, lovely colors.

Next to the house is an old dairy barn. It has 16 windows on the front and still has its original milking equipment inside.

I love the burnt red color the paint has faded to over time.

Past the old homestead we walked to the current northern boarder of the park. The skies were grey all day but lucked out and the rain stayed away.

Soon we hit a locked gate and the new Nature Conservancy acquisition.

After a brief hike we hit a road bed. This road was used by the Wildish Company to haul rock out of the river and to their rock crushing plant. The gravel road is over 3 miles long and in really good condition. The biking fans in our tour group remarked what a great bike trail it could make.

We first passed the North slope of Mt. Pisgah. It is covered in an open oak savanna which is a very endangered habitat. The Nature Conservancy has been busy here clearing the fields of invasive Himalayan Blackberry plants.

After a bit more walking we were able to view the Middle Fork of the Willamette for the first time.

After a while, the Clearwater Park Path on the opposite bank came into view. It was fun to see since Beth and I had just walked that trail in January.

Soon the main river veered away from us and we were next to a quiet back channel.

A fisherman on the opposite bank.

Near the farthest point of our hike we approached a series of ponds. It is thought that the Nature Conservancy will create channels to attach the ponds to the River. Unfortunately, our group scared away all of the waterfowl. We did see a number of ducks, geese, and heron flying overhead all morning.

At this point our gravel road ended.

We all wondered what large bird created these footprints in the wet soil.

Near the ponds I found these pussy-willow cat-kins. They had opened and were releasing their pollen. The yellow really glowed on the grey, overcast day.

At this point we turned around and headed back. The hike was three miles and took just under three hours. My many thanks to our two excellent tour guides, both volunteer members of the Friend of Buford Park.


Lady Farmer said...

That sounds like a fun and interesting hike. I love to do stuff like that! Thanks for taking me along with you!

Athena at Minerva's Garden said...

I've never been to this park, so thank you for posting these lovely pictures of your visit there--piques my curiosity to visit someday myself.