"Mary's River Natural Park" Corvallis Off The Beaten Path Tip by glabah
Corvallis Off The Beaten Path: 5 reviews and 17 photos
Preserved wetlands are not that easy to find in the Willamette Valley these days, and there are always pressures to develop more of them. As the city of Corvallis has spread south and west from downtown, they have been able to preserve a few locations, including this 74 acre park along Mary's River southwest of downtown.
Development of this park continues, as seen on January 3, 2009. The parking area is gravel, and the road into the area intended to become the parking lot is quite rough. However, even in its unfinished state, the park is still a reasonably interesting place. You will find some birds of pray visiting here from time to time to look for food.
The main trail in the park is a boardwalk that sits above the soft ground of the preserved field, which may at times flood (Jan 3, 2009 was a very high water day, but the river still hadn't flooded the park - though it was close), but in reality is more useful as a very long raised platform to watch for various wildlife. A few extra feet in height makes a very big difference in being able to see over surrounding bushes and into the distance. This raised pathway runs beside a small stream, with Mary's River visible in the distance. There are several wide spots in the pathway that have interpretive signs - and on January 3, 2009 at least one sign that has yet to be completely installed. The end of this trail is a fairly simple wide spot with a bench and nexting box.
A second "pathway" of sorts leads through the park: it is actually a driveway to a nearby farming business, and people are not permitted to walk past the park boundary on the driveway. However, it does provide an extra location to walk for a short distance.
My first and only visit (so far) to this park was on January 3, 2009. There were a number of smaller, common birds here, but there was one bird of prey (most likely a harrier based on the hovering ability, but for me it was hard to tell based on the view I had). Obviously, the bird was looking for something to eat here, so there must also be smaller animals that also serve as a good food source.
Unfortunately, most of the wildlife that visits here is probably limited to birds, as the surrounding surburban development threatens to completely cut off the park and the river from larger wild lands. An additional problem of sorts is that with the number of nearby houses, the park seems to be quite popular with area residents, and with that many people wandering through the park I can't help but wonder how much wildlife is unwilling to visit.
At the north end of the park, there is a small kiosk that features a somewhat sheltered bench, plus signs describing the park and the surrounding preserved areas.
Upon my visit on January 3, 2009 the restroom facilities consisted of a slatted wall and concrete foundation that were obviously intended to hold portable toilets, but apparently during the winter season these are not put in place.
Approaching Corvallis from the east, take highway US 20 along the south side of Corvallis, to the Philomath and Ocean Beaches direction (I have forgotten the exact wording of the sign). Continue going west to SW Brooklane Drive, where there is a traffic light and left turn lane. Turn left and go south on SW Brooklane Drive. The park will be on your left, but as it is right now is almost impossible to see until you are past it. If you see the boardwalk on your left, or come to SW Brookane Lane (who comes up with these names?) on your left you have gone slightly too far. You can park in the area around SW Brooklane Lane, which is in the middle of the boardwalk.
As seen in photo 4, the driveway into the official parking area for Mary's River Natural Park is fairly rough.
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