Some of the best times in my childhood were spent running around exploring Magness Memorial Tree Farm.
The tree farm, operated by the World Forestry Center, is an 80-acre marvel of quintessential Oregon outdoors. It has 2.5 miles of hiking trails that are well maintained, and some are even paved. It’s a safe place to explore the Oregon outdoor, without fear of getting lost in some wilderness, as all trails are very well marked.
“The public is more than welcome to come out and enjoy it during the day,” said Jennifer Kent, marketing director for World Forestry Center. “There are also all types of classes and programs we have out there. There is a tree and plant identification program, animal identification class and even a GPS class out there too.”
While many of the classes and workshops are set up for local students and schools, Kent did say there were options to have adult courses too.
The tree farm also is a great lesson in forest management, because different sections of the farm are harvested, replanted and even cleared. As you walk around the farm you can see just how long it takes for Oregon pine trees to grow and mature.
But for those looking for a hiking trip that doesn’t take all day, this is the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch, dip your toes in Corral Creek and generally enjoy the outdoors.
“If people really stop and take the time to look around, listen and don’t just fast walk through and glance around, there really is a lot to see,” Kent said. “There is an amazing diversity of plants and animals at the tree farm.”
The tree farm was donated to the World Forestry Center in 1977 by Howard and Panzy Magness, who owned a lot of property in the area. The family of Robert Heater also donated land to the park. I was a kid when it was first opened, and I remember fondly of running down the trails, chasing friends from the neighborhood and catching crawdads in the creek with mason jars.
Since the opening, things have been improved and added, including several cabins people can rent, and also a meeting area.
Personally my favorite additions were the bridges over Corral Creek. During each season you can stop on one of the bridges and look down into the creek and see the different wildlife and plants. It’s very relaxing to walk into this type of setting and simply listen to the water.
Magness Memorial Tree Farm is also nice in that the trees have grown up enough so that even in pretty heavy rain, you are protected from the downpour. You will still get wet – especially during Oregon’s rainy fall season – but it’s amazing to see just how much the tree canopy will protect you from the elements.
World Forestry officials ask that you stay on the trails, keep dogs on leashes and there are no motor vehicles, bicycles or horses allowed on the trail network.
Guided tours are available with advance reservations, so make sure to contact them if you are wanting to make an overnight stay or even enjoy some of the programming at the tree farm.
Kent said approximately 17,000 people visit the tree farm each year and that to really enjoy it you should give yourself a half a day. Also, bring a lunch, because it is in a rural area where there are no restaurants in the immediate vicinity.
The very nice part about Magness Memorial Tree Farm is it is in between Sherwood, Newberg and Wilsonville, so if you are headed to Interstate 5, or Oregon Wine Country, it’s a great central location to get a taste of Oregon forest, without having to head to Mt. Hood.
About Magness Memorial Tree Farm from (www.worldforestry.org): Land for this unique educational project was donated to the non-profit World Forestry Center in 1977 by generous local residents Howard and Panzy Magness. Additional lands have been donated by the Robert Heater Family.
Located approximately 4 miles south of Old Town Sherwood and 10 minutes west of 1-5 Wilsonville exit 283, Magness Memorial Tree Farm is now an internationally recognized demonstration forest and outdoor education site enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.
This beautiful 80 acre property has a large natural area, small stream, nine comparative forest management zones, 2.5 miles of hiking trails, recreation field, small picnic shelter, and rustic log cabins for youth group overnight camping, outdoor schools, and retreats.
What to bring: While many of the trails are well maintained, it’s Oregon and it rains and there is mud. So if you don’t want to track mud back into your car, and extra set of shoes is suggested. In addition, it’s an outdoor amenity so if you are visiting anytime other than summer, make sure you layer your clothing and prepare for rain. It’s a beautiful nature setting, so a camera and plenty of space on your memory card is also suggested.
Tip: Take your time at the tree farm, and if you can, schedule to take a class or a seminar to learn about the natural setting. They are very rewarding and you can leave with some knowledge about Oregon that many native Oregonians don’t even have. You can also use your excursion at the tree farm as a launching off point to visit the World Forestry Center near the Oregon Zoo in Portland.
Season: The tree farm is open year-round.
Getting there: The Magness Memorial Tree Farm is located at 31195 SW Ladd Hill Road, Sherwood, OR 97140. To visit the farm, take Interstate 5 to exit 283, then turn west on Wilsonville Road. Drive four miles to Edminston Road, then turn right on Edminston Road. Travel a little over a mile to SW Ladd Hill Road, and turn right. One-half mile down Ladd Hill Road you will find Magness Memorial Tree Farm on your left.
By Patrick Johnson