For this Adventure with Kids, we drove some place close to home: West Linn’s treasured White Oak Savanna, which is 20 acres of rare white oak trees that have been saved by the efforts of local activist Robert Schwarz and many others. For the past nine years, Roberta and her husband Ed have led the tireless effort of campaigning, fundraising and restoration efforts to keep this beautiful area from development. Now, 14 acres of the stretch that sits above I-205 have been designated as a natural site. Schwarz has worked to gather volunteers to craft trails and pathways and add benches to the area to make it accessible to the public.
When I told my boys we were heading to the White Oak Savanna for this outdoor adventure, they were at first less than thrilled. They have been there before, they remind me. And, it just takes effort to get kids off the couch sometimes. And, yes, though we have been to the White Oak Savanna before, to help volunteer as well as celebrate the preservation of the area with Roberta — and for me to write articles for The Oregonian about the efforts over the years, it had been a while since we had visited. We had not been able to meander up the recently finished trail, for example, to reach the top of the savanna. When we had been here before, we had to tramp through long dry grass to get the breathtaking view of the Willamette River that is your reward when you reach the top.
Less than two percent of the native oak savannas that have graced the state of Oregon exists today, making this an extra rare treasure in Oregon.
When we arrived, I had my kids pose by the sign that graces the entryway of the park, which I always do at parks, if there is a sign. After my kids comply, they dart up the hill, as I try to capture some photos along the way. Young white oak trees are wrapped in protective screening along the way and the long dry grass sways in the evening wind. At the top, there is this wooden swing that the kids have swung on in the past, when the land was first preserved as a nature area a couple of years ago. It was fun to see Gus swing again on that swing that hangs from a white oak tree that overlooks the Willamette River. The twins were not interested this time in swinging as they did last time we were here. That shows you how time flies. Take the adventure when you can. Kids outgrow swings. I wish they wouldn’t.
The White Oak Savanna is located at 2425 Tannler Drive in West Linn. The website offers information:
The Neighbors for a Livable West Linn website offers part of the story of how the White Oak Savanna was saved NLWL
And here is a link to one of the several articles I have written about the White Oaks for The Oregonian (Oregonian White Oak Savanna story)