Washington County will reopen Rippling Waters Park in Gales Creek

Gales Creek – County parks department workers began clearing trees and brush and laying down gravel this week for vehicles to park at the long-shuttered 19-acre Rippling Waters Park along Gales Creek Road between Roderick Road and David Hill Road. 

The unannounced decision to reopen the day use park, which has sat overgrown for more than thirty years, came as a surprise to community residents, including adjacent landowners who, in many cases, have yet to be informed of the project in any official capacity. 

In an email to the Gales Creek Journal, Carl Switzer, Washington County Parks Superintendent, said that the park is likely to open before summer. “Washington County Parks is resuscitating Rippling Waters Park. It’s been shuttered for years and we are breathing new life into it,” he said. 

The amenities at the park will be limited, according to Switzer – Right now, crews are working on removing trees that have grown in the old parking lot, graveling the lot, repairing walking trails, and installing a new sign. 

Rippling Waters sign. Gales Creek Journal File Photo taken October 2016

When fully opened, Rippling Waters will join three other parks administered by Washington County – Scoggins Valley Park/Henry Hagg Lake, Metzger Park near Tigard, and Eagle Landing in Scholls. 

The most prominent feature of Rippling Waters Park is Gales Creek, which runs through the park. Most park property is located on the east side of the creek, with little access to the west side of the park without wading across the creek. Several trails on the east side of the park lead to the creek and through the mostly forested park.

Gales Creek is home to a variety of wildlife, including beaver, salmon, steelhead, cutthroat and rainbow trout, Pacific lamprey, and more.

The park has had a troubled history in the past. According to residents in the area who did not wish to be named, the park was the site of numerous drug-fueled parties in the 1980’s, leaving alcohol containers and syringes scattered throughout the park. The site continues to host the occasional late-night party; it also is a popular stop for overnight travelers, some who park at the entrance to the park and camp for the night, some who venture into the day-use park and sleep overnight in tents. 

On May 14, 2014, a Clean Water Services contractor discovered human remains in the park while spraying invasive species. The body was eventually identified as Daniel R. Lemire of Hillsboro, who had gone missing after leaving his truck at the Oregon Department of Forestry-administered Gales Creek Campground – almost 30 miles upstream on Gales Creek.

More recently, the park has hosted groups of volunteers and Pacific University students working with SOLVE and the Tualatin River Watershed Council to remove invasive plant species including English Ivy and Garlic Mustard, as well as plant native species and remove litter from the 19-acre park. 

This is a developing news story – as more information becomes available, additional articles will be posted on galescreekjournal.com.

Sources and more information:

Carl Switzer, Washington County Parks Superintendent
Interviews with adjacent landowners

Eyewitness accounts (This journalist lives on property adjacent to Rippling Waters Park)
Oregonian article regarding human remains found in the park