Even after many years in the mid-valley, it’s possible to discover nearby destinations in the countryside that are off the beaten path but not all that remote. Here’s one such place, which I found the other day.
It’s the Baker Tract of the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area. On Buena Vista Road in southern Polk County, it’s about two miles due northeast of the 1,788-acre main part of the wildlife area. There’s an unimproved and kind of bumpy track into the 55-acre Baker property, which the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife acquired in a land swap in 2002.
When I rattled into the place on my old mountain bike the other afternoon, the sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and nobody else was around to disturb the solitude of the open countryside. Signs at the gate, though, say the area is available for hunting and wandering around.
Passing by there before, I’d always thought it was part of the Luckiamute State Natural Area to its south, managed by the State Parks Department. When I finally stopped to take a look, notices posted at the gate told me otherwise.
ODFW and State Parks have made an effort in that area to preserve and restore wide swaths of the Willamette Valley the way it used to be, and it looks to me they are doing a great job. We should be grateful for this work. (hh)