Connect with Metro
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax
Protecting natural areas top image

Planning parks and trails

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Planning parks and trails

Metro plans future parks and stitches them together with trails. As a founding member of The Intertwine Alliance, Metro also works with community groups, businesses, local governments and nature lovers to create a world-class outdoor recreation network.

Explore from home

Interactive map screenshot

Experience Metro natural areas through photography, video and writing on an interactive storytelling map. From Forest Grove to Troutdale and North Portland to Wilsonville, the region is filled with tales of the land. View map

When you visit a park or hike a trail, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about how it came to be. But somebody did.

Metro’s parks and trails planning team transforms a raw resource – land – into a place where people connect with nature, exercise or commute.

After securing resources to publicly open an outdoor space, planners work with the community to answer important questions: What’s the best way to balance sensitive wildlife and plants with the people who want to experience them? How does this site fit into the region’s connected network of parks, trails and natural areas? What is this site telling us about how to better understand our sense of place? How will the final product reflect a site’s natural and cultural history? What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How can our park development help us to be more sustainable?

The answers help shape a master plan, which unfolds on the ground as landscape architects, contractors and artists fill in their parts of the puzzle.

Graham Oaks Gateway Plaza

From farm field to nature park

Consider Graham Oaks Nature Park in Wilsonville. Nearly a decade after Metro purchased the land, it opened as a 250-acre park and outdoor learning laboratory. Three miles of trails – including part of the regional Ice Age Tonquin Trail – traverse a restored oak woodland, a wetland and a conifer forest. Along the way, visitors can learn about Native American tribes who harvested acorns at Graham Oaks and farmers who made a living here. Today, plants grow from the green roof on the picnic shelter and solar panels on the restroom feed into Wilsonville’s electric grid.

Learn more about Graham Oaks Nature Park

“It’s an incredible honor to be there at the beginning of these powerful new opportunities to connect people with place,” says Mary Anne Cassin, Metro’s manager of parks planning and development. “We view our job as being translators, both for the community and for the land itself.”

Discover in this section

Planning future parks

Help shape tomorrow's great places. Metro plans new nature parks and facilities across the region and updates its stewardship strategies for existing natural areas.Learn more

Regional trails and greenways

Find out about the ambitious grass-roots effort to establish a network of regional trails and greenways that connect the region’s cities, parks, natural areas and neighborhoods.Learn more

The Intertwine

The Metro Council is teaming up with governments, businesses, nonprofits and other nature lovers to create the world’s best network of parks, trails and natural areas.Learn more

Need assistance?

Metro parks planning

Meet the team

John Sheehan

John Sheehan, conservation education program manager

"My two passions have long been education and the environment, so I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to combine both in my work as Metro’s conservation education program manager. My team brings Metro’s natural areas to life for the public through walks and classes full of natural history, cultural history and stories. As the staff who most frequently and directly connect the public to our magnificent natural areas, we have some of the most rewarding jobs at Metro!"

Tracking progress

Three major nature parks

Mount Talbert hovers above busy shopping centers and neighborhoods in Clackamas County, offering a forested oasis. At Graham Oaks, the new Tonquin Trail meanders through a restored oak woodland in Wilsonville. And, nestled between the neighborhoods and farm fields of Washington County, Cooper Mountain provides a haven for wildlife. All three were purchased, restored and opened by voters.

Places and Activities

The Intertwine is the name for the region's ever-growing network of integrated parks, trails and natural areas. See a regional map of The Intertwine's best-loved outdoor recreation and education locations, and find nature activities, bike rides, bird walks, volunteer opportunities and many workshops on the calendar.

Explore the map
Browse the calendar

© 2014 Metro. All rights reserved.

Send questions, comments and suggestions about the website to

600 NE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-2736
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax