With the next heat dome rolling toward us, we found ourselves wedged between doing a hike or doing more house repairs. We compromised by doing a short hike in the cool of the morning followed by yet another visit in the afternoon to the (air conditioned) home store (OK, take all our money – just give us a box of nails!) So, for the next few days we’ll do repairs in the morning and grill dinner on the furnace-like sidewalk in the afternoon. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Meanwhile, back in Oregon, it apparently hasn’t stopped raining (and sometimes snowing) since we left. Ah, the irony of a changing climate. ๐Ÿ™„

Turning pages in our now much used 60 Hikes guide pointed us toward the Elm Creek Park Preserve near Maple Grove. The guide offered an 11 mile (18 km) loop (Hike #44) around the northern portion of the Preserve. But that trail – besides being too long for a morning’s walk – is all paved and used by zooming bicyclists. So we went with the Eastman Nature Trail (Hike #45), a natural surface path that starts from the Nature Center. At under 4 miles (7.4 km) is was the ideal choice for us today. The map supplied by the Preserve suggested that we might be able to piece together a long loop on mostly natural surfaces – but doing so will have to wait for another day.

We started on the Sumac Trail, quickly found the Heron Trail, followed that past Rush Creek to the Monarch Trail (long loop) and Elm Creek. The air – although alive with mosquitos – was cool in the shade of the forest; much less so out in the sun where the trail crossed open prairie.

Starting on the Sumac Trail
Rush Creek
Bladder Campion (non-native)
On the Monarch Trail
Elm Creek
Creek abstract
On the Monarch Trail
A detour on the Creek Trail to see Elm Creek
Reflections in the creek I
Reflections in the creek II
Looping back on the Monarch Trail
Sunshine on the prairie
Smooth Wild Rose

We returned to the Nature Center then went out once again on the Sumac Trail, then looped the Meadowlark Trail back to the Sumac Trail and the Center.

On the Meadowlark Trail
Rush Creek

Once back at the Nature Center, we stopped in to wash the DEET off our hands, read the displays, and visit Jack, the resident Great Horned Owl (he was hit by a car years ago and can no longer live in the wild ๐Ÿ˜ฅ). Our double loop came to just 3.3 miles (5.3 km), with minimal elevation gain. Our walk was a good introduction to this Preserve – we’ll have to come back post-heat dome and see if we can do a longer loop. Then, with the day’s heat rising, it was off to a quick lunch and the home store – which we managed to leave with much less money but a wonderful box of nails! ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜

Our double loop (blue line) at Elm Creek Park Preserve