Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Witch's Castle/Stone House

Way back in early January (it certainly feels way back), Portland got a snow-dusting and Ben pitched a fit that he wanted to go up the mountain and play in it. Owning what I'd call a "not-snow-going" vehicle (an older Corolla that hates hills on a sunny day), I nixed the notion of trying to summit a snow mountain in an angry car. Ever the compromising brain, I suggested that we go to Forest Park instead and enjoy the green instead of the white. So we saddled up with new Christmas gear (a day-pack) and went for the short, pretty hike to Stone House, or the more fantastically named Witch's Castle. Surprisingly we ran into a dusting of the white stuff and Ben was able to make one lone snowball to pummel me with in the thigh. All was well.

The hike starts at Lower Macleay park in NW Portland or at the Audubon Society. The lower entrance involves walking up a slight incline, past a flowing stream. The upper hike involves a bit steeper of a hike down to start, but has a steeper climb back out, naturally. If you just stop at Witch's Castle, it's about 0.9 miles one-way, but if you continue on to the Audubon Society and back, you can get in a 2-3 mile walk in.

Witch's Castle is a stone house that was recently damaged in the storms we had this winter, so is inaccessible (hence the lack of photos of us and ghosts inside it), but it is really lovely to look at and has a great history. Though the house is actually an un-maintained rest station from the late twenties, it was the site of a homestead in the 1800s where some creepy happenings... happened.

The original owner of the land, Danford Balch was the first man legally hanged in Oregon for "accidentally" shooting and killing a hired hand that eloped with his sixteen year old daughter in the 1850s. All good stuff for a dusk-hike through the woods. 

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