Just more than a mile south of Main Street in Hillsboro, sits one of the Pacific Northwest’s best wetland viewing and information areas. The 725 acres that make up the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve are a combination of meadows, woods and open waters. The Preserve is a great in-city destination for the family. Kids of all ages, parents, researchers, and casual wildlife observers can enjoy what Jackson Bottom has to offer.
Jackson Bottom provides a unique indoor and outdoor learning experience. Workshops and camps are available throughout the year for teachers and kids alike. The 12,000-square-foot Wetlands Education Center boasts an ever-changing, interactive exhibit hall. The Education Center also houses a nature store, and the only authentic bald eagle nest exhibit to be found in the continental United States.
Outside, a series of interpretive trails totaling roughly four miles leads through remarkably varied and scenic terrain. Trails such as the “Riparian Forest” and the “Blue Heron” take you by a series of ponds and wetlands with interspersed blinds, lookouts and shelters for wildlife viewing along the way.
Kids that utilize light steps and keen eyes will be able to catch glimpses of scurrying animals just feet away; the variety of which is impressive. Some of the more common visitors to Jackson Bottom include black-tailed deer, elk, bobcat, American mink, coyote, nutria and beaver, to name a few.
The Preserve is also one of the best spots in the area to whip out the binoculars and do some bird watching. Year-round residents include the great blue heron, mourning dove, white-breasted nuthatch and northern flicker. In addition, a number of summer visitors, such as common yellowthroat and western wood-pewee, can be seen now.
The Preserve, located at 2600 S.W. Hillsboro Hwy., is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, but bikes and dogs are not allowed due to the sensitive environment.