It was a gorgeous morning when I headed out in the trusty Bronco to take a short walk along a short trail just south of McMinnville along Route 18 called the Erratic Rock State Park. It’s about an hour south along Route 47 from Hillsboro.
The sign for the park is somewhat difficult to see – its says Glacial Rock from Highway 18, and once off the road its a sharp right and a couple of miles to the parking area (which is just a widening of the road). The trusty bronco made the trip with no problem (for once). The parking is a little limited and I can see there being a problem in the popular summer months when the park is likely to be full.
The sign for the actual park is large and easily spotted from the car. Be sure to visit the park during the day – as with most parks and public spaces in Oregon, it is only accessible during daylight hours.
The first thing you will see after the normal park signs is the geology lesson regarding Glacial Erratics. Essentially, the rock you will visit when you make it to the top was from Montana and moved from Oregon while embedded in an iceberg when there was a tremendous flood in the Willamette Valley and Washington. It is the largest rock of many that are found in the Willamette Valley.
Even though the trail is only 1/4 mile it is still a beautiful walk. There are some lovely sights along the way. There is a vineyard on the left and and old Christmas tree farm on the right. The first part of the walk is leisurely and easily done.
The last 100 meters or so is rather steep so take it easy and soon you’ll see the Erratic Rock itself. One of the notes mentioned on the sign was that the original size of the rock was over 160 tons, but now it is only 90 tons, having had an estimated 70 tons removed by visitors! A staggering statistic. There was some trash and things under which I removed as much as I could reach and threw away near the entrance. There was also a small picnic table near the rock that would allow visitors to have a quick meal.
The walk back was even better than the walk to the rock – downwards is always easier, right? Sooner than I wanted it was over. It is a great little park and highly recommended if you’re interested in Oregon geologic history, or on Highway 18, or just want to see a fantastic out of the way park. Overall this little park and natural site deserves five whole big HeyWillamettes, it’s a nice place to take a walk with the family, enjoy a meal and spend some time enjoying the wonderful majesty of the Willamette Valley.