Since the bike trail at Dalton Lake became “Dalton Lake Nature Preserve“, we’ve enjoyed watching the place change. There are now info kiosks and bike stands on both ends as well as new benches. Friends of Dalton Lake has worked to widen trails and remove some invasive vegetation, and Patrick Birkle leads nature tours.
Sophia and I attended one of Patrick’s tours. I enjoyed it, especially the opportunity to take trail routes that I hadn’t explored before. Sophie was so excited she wore herself out and had to take an impromptu nap.
On another day Rosey, Sophie, and I took the trail together. Sophia’s highlights were snake and salamander finds along the lake. This is a reminder to photograph the snakes you see here and submit them to Columbia County Reptiles and Amphibians. We’re especially interested in any snake you spot along the main bike trail that’s not a garter snake.
It was a good salamander day, as we found four of the six species present within the nature park. Long-toed Salamanders, Northwestern Salamanders, and Rough-skinned Newts breed in the lake, whereas Dunn’s Salamanders and Western Red-backed Salamanders prefer moist rocky areas near streams or talus, and Oregon Ensatina are found under wood in the forest.
There was decent birding to be had, though for whatever reason my ability to get good pictures was terrible. I’m sure real birders could have done better.
Invertebrates included both the beautiful and the weird.
We’re excited by the continued work to re-wild Dalton Lake and are looking forward to more to come.
Dalton Lake Nature Preserve at a glance
What: Walking, biking, wildlife viewing, birdwatching
Where: The main trailhead is at the parking lot of the Columbia Humane Society at 2084 Oregon St, St Helens (45.8733, -122.8140). Look to the left of the building for the paved trail, don’t go up into the mobile home lot.
Hiking: Around 1.5 miles of total trail with a main asphalt bike trail connecting St. Helens to Columbia City, a gravel path halfway around the lake, and a narrow dirt walking trail in the forest between the bike path and the lake.
Notable Wildlife: Beaver, nutria, muskrat, otter, herons, waterfowl, woodpeckers, warblers, garter snakes, salamanders, treefrogs
Property status: Oregon Department of Transportation