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Charles Metsker

Entry Permits Required

This gated park is dedicated to youth and nature, and is deed-restricted to chaperoned, organized youth or school groups only. If your group would like more information about using the park, call 503-434-7463 . For entry permits, call 503-434-7515.


(20 acres)


From Hwy 99W in McMinnville, turn west onto Baker Creek Road at the Baker Creek Road/Evans Street intersection. Continue on Baker Creek Road through intersection with Baker Street. From the corner of Baker Street and Baker Creek Road, travel west 9.2 miles. The park is located past Rainbow Lodge on a gravel road to the right just past the lodge parking lot.
 Click Here for Driving Directions & Map


  • Stream
  • Lake
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Nature Walk
  • Picnicking
  • Research Area
  • Covered Shelter
  • Vault Toilet

This 20-acre park offers outdoor education opportunities including access to Baker Creek and Rainbow Lake, as well as surrounding riparian and upland conifer forests. A one-mile interpretive trail circles the historic mill pond. Amenities include a covered picnic shelter, dock, and lakeside viewing area. The park is used as a research area for Linfield College biology classes. The park's development has been made possible by the long-term efforts of Friends of Charles Metsker Park, Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District, Linfield College, and other community partners who continue to develop and promote educational facilities and programming at the site.


Charles Metsker Park, which includes Rainbow Lake, was named in honor of Charles and Ann Metsker. Mr. Metsker created the lake from what was a log storage pond operated by White’s Mill in the 1930s. When Metsker bought the property in 1943, the pond was very shallow. He drained it and dredged the bottom, dammed the creek and brought spring water down to the lakeshore. Until 1950 the lake was known as Metsker’s Lake, but because Ann Metsker was very active in the Masonic “Rainbow Girls,” and many of their activities took place at the lake, it became known as Rainbow Lake.

The Metskers sold 1,600 acres to Willamette Industries in 1959. In 1962, Willamette Industries transferred the 20-acre parcel that was to become Charles Metsker Park to Yamhill County. The county honors Metsker’s deed restriction on the sale of his property that the lake area be open to “organized youth groups.”

The area surrounding Rainbow Lake was logged and naturally reseeded in the mid-1940s. Over the next several decades, sedimentation diminished the size of the lake from 21 acre-feet to five acre-feet.

In spring of 1990, Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District, acting as the lead agency, used grants, county funds, and private donations raised by Friends of Charles Metsker Park to restore the lake. SWCD cleared away 15,000 cubic yards of sediment in the process, some of which was used to create three islands at the north end of the lake, an observation point on the northeast trail, and a parking area. The earthen dam was rebuilt and a trickle tube riser and conduit installed to accommodate normal stream flow.

During the 1990s, SWCD and Friends of Charles Metsker Park worked with Linfield College to enhance Charles Metsker Park and build it into an outdoor laboratory for students to explore Yamhill County's natural legacy. They created an interpretive nature trail and guidebook, constructed a field station laboratory with covered area, and built a deck and viewing blind on the lakeshore.

Today, these groups continue to work actively with Yamhill County Parks and other local partners to realize their shared vision Charles Metsker Park’s potential as an outstanding environmental education facility for students from throughout Yamhill County.

Native Plant List

  • Douglas-fir
  • Wester red-cedar
  • Grand fir
  • Pacific yew
  • Oregon ash
  • Red alder
  • Indian plum
  • Snowberry
  • Salal
  • Oregon grape
  • Sword fern
  • Licorice fern
  • Oregon oxalis
  • Oregon iris
  • Pacific bleeding heart
  • Red columbine

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