Touch Grass: The Canyon

By Adrian Keller Feld

Welcome to the first of a series of articles about green spaces around campus, a great spot to get ideas for your next outdoor outing — from someone who doesn’t hike. Today we’ll be starting in, of course, the Reed College Canyon. Located at the heart of Reed’s campus, running below the Bouncy and Blue bridges, this 28-acre watershed has been a state wildlife refuge since 1913. The Canyon has been through a lot with the college, at one time even boasting a swimming pool. However, since 1999 the college has made serious efforts to restore the Canyon to a natural state, and protect the space as a habitat for many different species. Current biology classes use the Canyon during labs, studying the careful ecological balance that restoration efforts have tried to maintain. In the spring there is even an event called “Canyon Day,” where Reedies and community members come together to show the Canyon extra love by removing invasive plants, planting native species, and more. 

While Canyon Day is a great annual event, students at Reed can enjoy the Canyon year-round simply by walking along the many paths that snake through it. There are a few routes that can be taken through the Canyon as a substitute for using the bridges, making getting into the Canyon as easy as taking a new route home from class. Simply follow the edge and you’ll find a path shortly; there’s one right behind Vollum, towards Eliot. In addition, there is a main long path that does a loop around the Canyon, which is a great long walk, dotted with many places to sit, including a chess board beneath the Blue Bridge. There is even a little island to find, the perfect spot for a picnic or a quiet chat. The Canyon is a great place for an afternoon walk, a place to sit with a good book, or your favorite student publication, as well as being a nice space for spending time with fellow students, away from the noise of campus above. It is also used a lot by the local community, so watch out for joggers and preschool classes!

While the Canyon is a beautiful natural space, it requires our help to keep it that way. So please, when visiting the Canyon exercise care with the natural environment, including staying away from wildlife and leaving no trace. If you would like to learn more about the Canyon, there is a large section about it on the Reed College website. There are also a couple of Instagram accounts devoted to the Canyon, @reedcanyon and @reedcanyonlove, which you can follow for more information on the Canyon, and pictures of this spectacular natural space we Reedies have the great honor to access. So, go out and touch grass in the Reed College Canyon!

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