Imagine a small tranquil lake in a pleasant natural setting, with a level trail winding around the perimeter. Add in a rhododendron garden, playground structures, sports courts and fields, a fenced off-leash dog park, and other amenities – and voila, it’s Tigard’s own Summerlake Park!
Indeed, many local residents regularly enjoy this 30 acre park year-round. Located in north Tigard (near Scholls Ferry Road), Summerlake Park has its own parking lot (at 11450 SW Winter Lake Dr.), and there is ample street parking along Winter Lake Drive and Southwest 130th Avenue.
For folks wishing to go for a nice walk (or bicycle ride), the park trail is mostly paved (except in the wooded area of the park). This paved path is accessible for virtually everyone, and it forms an easy one mile walking loop around Summer Lake. Those who prefer a shorter walk (.7 mile) can take a detour along the wooded trail.
At various times of the year you can see abundant wildlife at the lake, including numerous Canadian geese, ducks (Bufflehead, Mallard, Merganser, Pintail, Teal, and Wood), songbirds, and the Great Blue Heron. There are also nutria living at Summer Lake; the nutria is a large Peruvian rodent which many people mistake for a beaver (which has a broad flat tail).
In recent years, pickleball has become quite a popular pastime at the park. On the west side of the park, the tennis courts have been converted to six pickleball courts. Pickleball is played on a much smaller court than tennis, and a paddle (similar to table tennis) is used to hit the ball, rather than a racquet. Pickleball is a friendly alternative to tennis for those with mobility or joint issues; the smaller court and slower play make it a sport that is appropriate for people of all ages. For newcomers to the sport, there is a trunk with wooden paddles and balls provided for the players. More experienced pickleball players generally use composite paddles (Prince being the preferred brand). No reservations are required; court-time is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Numerous households with small children daily frequent the park’s two playground areas; kids can play on the structures, the swings, or in the sandboxes. Additionally, there’s a small baseball field (for kids’ softball), a soccer field, and a basketball court, too. Restrooms are conveniently located near the play areas.
For folks looking to have a picnic or barbecue at Summerlake Park, there are several picnic tables placed around the park, and there is a large covered picnic shelter (with grills) on the Southwest 130th Avenue side of the park. After a year of closures due to the Covid pandemic, the park shelters are now available again for rental. To reserve a picnic shelter online (or a sports field), go to www.tigard-or.gov. The shelters can be reserved in two-hour increments. For any other information, you can phone the Tigard parks division at 503-718-2591 (Monday-Thursday).
Dog owners especially appreciate Summer Lake; the park features one of Tigard’s three fenced off-leash dog parks. There is even a drinking fountain for the pups. The dog park site is right next to the parking lot, and rules are posted at the entrance. The dog park is the only area where dogs are permitted off-leash in the park.
The Sorg Rhododendron Garden is also situated next to the parking lot. Created in 2001, the garden features a number of large mature rhododendrons and azaleas which bloom annually in April and May.
It would be remiss not to also mention here one of the quirks of Summer Lake – the geese poop problem. Particularly during nesting season, thousands of migrating Canadian geese visit the lake. Consequently, these flocks of geese deposit literally tons of feces on the grassy areas. A local entrepreneur, Geese Guys, figured out a solution; dog handlers trained border collies to disrupt breeding geese, so that they will simply fly away, instead of taking up residence in the park. In recent years, the City of Tigard has contracted with Geese Guys to mitigate the veritable geese epidemic at Summer Lake. An identifiable dog handler and border collie patrol the park several afternoons weekly, especially in the spring. The border collie “ranger” is the only dog allowed off-leash everywhere in the park. Anyway, when walking on the path or grass near the lakeside, to keep your shoes clean – carefully watch your step!