Located on the bluff in Oregon City overlooking the Willamette River, Canemah Bluff offers scenic views to and from the neighboring city of West Linn. The unique natural area has a rich diversity of habitats including conifer forests, ash bottomlands, wildflowers and rare Oregon white oak and Pacific madrone woodlands.
The Canemah Bluff has a diverse history dating back to pre-historic times. It overlooks the Willamette River approximately 2,300 feet upriver of Willamette Falls, a major traditional fishing and gathering location for Native American populations. Canemah was also an early focus of settlement in the Willamette Valley.
The town reached its height from 1850-1870 and included many buildings and a landing for riverboats Metro made its first purchase of land on the bluff, 22 acres, in 1996 using funds from from the voter-approved 1995 natural areas bond measure. The 2006 follow-up bond measure haas led to additional purchases in the area.
Because they are so rare, maintaining and enhancing the oak woodland and madrone trees found in the Canemah Bluff natural area has been a priority for Metro's science team. Forest management, such as tree thinning, has been necessary to prevent the fast-growing Douglas fir and big-leaf maple from outpacing the slower-growing oaks. Getting rid of invasive plants like scotch broom and blackberry has allowed the prairie's wildflowers to thrive.
Camas and Brodiaea lilies, white larkspur, rosy Plectritis and many other native wildflowers can be found in bloom from March to May In the northern part of Canemah Bluff, a spring, stream and wetland add complexity and increase the land's habitat value for wildlife. A series of rocky outcrops further south in the natural provide crevices and small caves for critters and animals. Chipping sparrows, red breasted sapsuckers, white-breasted nuthatches and orange crowned warblers make a home on the land, along with hawks and eagles that can be seen soaring over the nearby river.