Spring/Summer 2016 Hiking Guide


Download 2016 Hiking Map Guide


[su_accordion] [su_spoiler title="1. Angel's Rest - 4.8 miles round trip"]

1. Angel's Rest- 4.8 miles round trip- Angel's Rest is an exposed bluff on the Western end of the Columbia River Gorge. This summit is characterized by a long, rocky spine surrounded on three sides by cliffs, boasting a striking 270 degree view! While you can't see any of the Cascade volcanoes from the top, you do get great vantages of Beacon Rock, Silver Star Mountain and many other landmarks.

The real draw, however, is the perspective of the river below - like you're on a balcony over a great auditorium. Its near-1500 foot prominence, and its proximity to the Columbia River give you the false sensation that you could dive from the summit to the water below!

Getting to this precipice takes a relatively short hike (2.4 mile one-way) with an easy to moderately-steep ascent. Its bang-for-the-buck makes this a long-time favorite of families and hiking clubs. When you consider that the drive time from downtown Portland to the trailhead is under 45 minutes, it is understandable how popular this destination can be on sunny summer weekends.

The forest expanses surrounding the summit burned in a fire back in 1991, and lots of charred evidence remains. It is a unique landscape - one quite varied from other locales in the Gorge.

Angel's Rest, while a worthy destination by itself, is also a favorite stopping point for longer hiking loops in the area. Don't be surprised if you even see backpacking thru-hikers taking a breather at this splendid rest-stop.

Note for families: While there is plenty of space to avoid danger at the top, it should be noted that it's a good idea to keep little ones close by to avoid them getting too close to the cliffside drop-offs. http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Angel's_Rest


[su_spoiler title="2. Umbrella Falls Loop Hike - 4.6 miles round trip"]

2. Umbrella Falls Loop Hike 4.6 miles round trip:Mount Hood's most expansive flower displays are found in the vicinity of Hood River Meadows, on the gentle, southeast flank of the volcano. While the Meadows ski resort has expanded to cover much of the area, the trails remain surprisingly free of reminders of the throng of skiers that crowd the slopes here in winter. The massive display of wildflowers in July and August and series of pretty streams and waterfalls makes this a good destination even when clouds obscure the mountain. The loop visiting Umbrella and Sahale Falls combines the best of the features with an easy grade that even young children will enjoy.The hike begins at the Hood River Meadows Trailhead. From the trailhead, hike 0.3 miles through open forest to a junction with the Umbrella Falls Trail. Turn left here and immediately begin climbing around a rocky bluff, passing under the first of several chairlifts that crisscross the area. Hood River Meadows, proper, spreads out below. Soon, the route levels off and passes through small meadows, passing a junction with the trail to Sahale Falls at the 1.7 mile mark. You'll return to this junction to complete the loop, but first keep straight, and at 2.0 miles, reach gracefulUmbrella Falls. The dog-legged footbridge across the East Fork makes for a nice lunch spot. Kids will have fun exploring the slow, clear pool below the bridge. Adults may notice ski litter that has floated down from the Meadows resort, just upstream, so a good object lesson for kids is to carry a couple of pieces of litter out.

From Umbrella Falls, backtrack 0.3 miles to the Sahale Falls junction, and turn right, following the trail through small meadows and open forest. After about a mile, the trail passes above Sahale Falls, with views into the falls and of the picturesque original highway bridge that arches below the falls. Scramble trails drop to the old highway and bridge viewpoint, for those inclined to take the side trip. The main route continues through forest, and soon reaches Hood River Meadows, proper, where the trail meets the old highway again. Resume the path through forest and a crossing of gurgling Meadows Creek for 0.3 miles to the trailhead at 3.6 miles. http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Umbrella_Falls_Loop_Hike

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title="3. Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls - 12 miles round trip"]

3. Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls - 12 miles round trip-  The Eagle Creek to Tunnel Falls Hike is one of the most popular and magnificent trails in the Columbia River Gorge, and for good reason. You will literally lose count as you pass dozens of spectacular waterfalls through the lush temperate rain forests and tall basalt cliffs. You'll traverse passageways blasted out of the bedrock with dynamite, footbridges over bubbling streams, talus slopes, and unique geologic formations along your journey -- and that's just in the first 2 miles!Most of the early sections of this hike are described in more detail on this page: Eagle Creek to High Bridge Hike. A summary follows...

Starting at the Eagle Creek Trailhead you'll hike along the water for a 1/4 mile or so, but soon ascend high above the gorge floor, spanning a wide valley. Continue away from the creek into a moss-covered old growth forest, crossing many side-creeks and footbridges until you reach the spur trail to Metlako Falls at about 1 1/2 miles. Take the optional side trek to the viewpoint (highly recommended for first-timers!), or continue on toward Punchbowl Falls, at about the 2 mile mark. At Punchbowl Falls you again have the option of taking a side trail. This one is a bit longer, dropping you down to the creek floor with a head-on view of the falls. Thru-hikers will sometimes skip this option, being satisfied continuing ahead a quarter mile to a viewpoint from above. After another mile or so you'll pass by Loowit Falls and come to High Bridge at the 3.3 mile mark. The trail leading up to High Bridge -- although wide, well groomed and oft-traveled -- is rocky and can be slippery in places. The path is carved into the cliffside 120 feet up! A cable-line is affixed in the rock to your left, providing some security, but on a busy day you will encounter two way traffic. Pass with care.

High Bridge is one of only two places where the trail crosses the creek. It also marks the border where camping is allowed (in designated places). There are many sites between here and Tunnel Falls, but the premium ones are gobbled up quickly in the summer months. You'll see the first a few hundred yards past the bridge on your right and another one .1 mile past. At the 3.7 miles mark you'll pass Tenas Camp, which has room for three tents and decent water access. Campfires are not allowed along the Eagle Creek trail

As you continue past Skoonichuck Falls, you'll notice the forest composition gradually start to thin and feature younger deciduous trees. (A sign further uptrail describes a forest fire that swept through this area back in 1902). At 4 1/2 miles you'll cross the creek for the second and final time. The appropriately named Four and a Half Mile Bridge is a nice place to cool off on a hot day. It is quite a contrast to it's downtrail cousin, sitting a mere 4 feet above the water!

Over the next few miles you'll pass through several more campsites -- but the nicest may be about a 1/3 of a mile past the bridge -- with decent size and water access. Not far beyond is Wy'East Camp - which is the tenting equivalent of an RV Park with 7 or 8 sites - some right on top of each other! Just prior to seeing to the camp you'll have crossed Wy-Est Creek. In the summer, this is dried up completely, but in the wetter season, look to your left in the distance for a beautiful tall, ribbon-like Wy'East Falls. (There is a primitive bushwack back to a better view.)

You'll notice that the forest has now completely changed to one of maples and other hardwoods. The trail has flattened out and runs straight for awhile as the ever-present creek ebbs and flows to your right. You'll pass into the Hatfield Wilderness and the junction with the Eagle Benson Trail #434. Hikers are required to stop at the Hatfield Trailhead and fill out a free day pass. Wilderness regulations apply from this point forward. Seethis page for a description of these regulations.

Just as you starting to wonder how much longer? , you'll you cross two enormous talus slopes, then a section called the " the Potholes" -- signaling you're approaching the homestretch.

Finally, at around the 6 mile mark, you'll turn around bend and be awestruck by the object of your journey - the 175 foot Tunnel Falls!

As the name implies, your path with pass through a tunnel behind the falls about midway up the span. Consider as you enter the tunnel, that work to build this was done in the 1910s and has been virtually unchanged since! The falls drop from the bluffs above to the creek bed below then downstream into the main Eagle Creek run. The years have carved out a striking amphitheater here. It is a breathtaking area, and easily the climax of your trip.

Avoid the temptation to climb down the loose dirt slope on the near side of the falls as so many have done before. It is neither safe nor good for the life of trail above.

This is the turn-around point for this hike. Go back the way you came.

The stretch just beyond the falls is another very exposed cliff-side pathway etched into the gorge wall. Again, a cable line is there you steady you. But nowhere has the traverse been quite so dizzying!

If you still feel like you have some energy, continue less than a half-mile ahead to the two-tiered, 200 foot tall Twister Falls (sometimes called "Crossover Falls" or "Eagle Creek Falls"). It is well worth the minimal additional effort if time affords. It is difficult to see the full span of the cataract, but more impressive is the trail to it. Many have referred to this stretch as the "Vertigo Mile". It is the most dramatic section of the hike for its vertical rise above the gorge floor. Just beyond the falls is plenty of room to take a break before heading back the way you came. http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Tunnel_Falls_Hike


[su_spoiler title="4. Oxbow loop - 3.3 miles"]

4. Oxbow loop: 3.3 miles-A Gresham-area destination with long stretches of Sandy River access, the park fills up with gear and fly-anglers hoping to lay into the chrome, hard-fighting fish that populate the river mid-January through May.

But the 1,000-acre natural area is popular for reasons beyond fishing — it's also home to almost 13 miles of hiking trails that traverse old-growth forest and the edges of riverbanks.

The combination of those two assets makes Oxbow, despite the 80-minute drive from Salem and $5 entry fee, worth a visit during late winter and early spring.

One important point to remember before getting started — the trails are marked by a system of letters, but it's only decipherable with a park map, so make sure to grab one at the tollbooth entrance.

My plan was to attempt both fishing and hiking on a 3.3-mile loop that includes long stretches on river but also winds through the old-growth forest.

The place to begin was the boat ramp and campground near the end of the main access road. There were plenty of fishermen crowding the main beach near the parking lot, so I headed right (east), past the campground, to a stretch of trail with 0.6 miles of rocky-beach river access.

I happened to be carrying a fly rod — large black and bright red flies had been recommended — and spent a few hours drifting my line across the clear, greenish water found alongside the sections of trail marked L, K and J.

After not getting as much as a bite in four different locations, I decided to focus on hiking. The trail led inland, crossing a gravel road and markers N, O and G for one mile before entering what's labeled on the map as "ancient forest."

Large, hundred-year-old trees rose above the trail — the most scenic in the park — in a section of trail that crosses over the main road and turns back toward the boat launch.

The final stretch follows high above the river past group picnic areas, before dropping down as you approach the boat ramp (past a few more fishing spots) and the loop's conclusion.

The downside to hiking at Oxbow is that the trail can be confusing and is frequently interrupted by roads, picnic areas and other distractions. The upside is old-growth and the chance to fish for winter steelhead — whether they happen to be biting or not. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/travel/outdoors/2014/04/13/if-fishing-fails-at-oxbow-theres-always-hiking/7688785/

[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title="5. Washington Park Loop"]

5. Washington Park Loop: On a sunny day in southwest Portland, one can usually see the entire downtown area as well as Mount Hood of from the hillside of Washington Park. On a rainy day, you can't necessarily see as far, but the beauty of the park is astounding.

The most impressive aspect of Washington Park isn't the amount of playgrounds or basketball courts, it's the massive amount of space located just a few miles from the heart of the city. With the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Children's Museum and the International Rose Test Garden all located within the park, there are endless opportunities fun (indoor and outdoor) regardless of the weather.

But it turns out that walking around the 410 acre park in the pouring down rain isn't all that unusual. As I approached the International Rose Garden to check out the few flowers still in bloom, many people were doing the same.

At the top of the large (and very green) amphitheater, which hosts a myriad of public concerts including the Washington Park Summer Festival, a woman ate lunch as another person decked out in rain gear jogged up and down the steps. In Oregon, rain deters almost nothing.

The park is also equipped with a number of tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic tables, soccer fields and more than 15 miles of hiking trails, you could spend an entire weekend in the park and not run out of new things to do.

If the rain isn't your cup of tea don't fret, there are a number of indoor activities in the area as well.

The Oregon Zoo is located within the park with more than 2,000 animals of 250 different species including Lily, the newest baby elephant. The Hoyt Arboretum contains nearly 10,000 trees and shrubs and the Portland Children's Museum also is in the area.

For those who are looking for some historical information, the Oregon Holocaust Memorial lies within the park as well as the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, both easily accessible with a lot of parking.

Although there is a fair amount of parking within the park, there's a Max station located within the park.


[/su_spoiler] [su_spoiler title="6. Oak Island - 2.8 miles"]

6. Oak Island 2.8 miles - Surrounded by Sturgeon Lake on Sauvie Island, Oak Island is part of the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area and is open to hikers only seasonally, from mid-April to the end of September. The best times to visit are right after and just before the closure, when migrants such as sandhill cranes may still be present. Look for raptors in the grasslands and woodpeckers and passerines in the woodlands. Vegetation includes typical shoreline trees such as Oregon ash and willow but also extensive meadows and copses of Oregon white oak.

Pick up a nature trail brochure if there are some in the dispenser. From the trailhead, walk past the gate on a vehicle track. At a junction, go left through snowberry thickets under oak, willow and ash trees. At a junction with two trail signs, the beginning of the loop, keep left on the vehicle track. Cross an open field and get a view of West Sturgeon Lake to your left, with the Tualatin Hills behind. There are oak woods are to your right. The trail heads into an ash forest, passing a couple of gnarly old trees. Spurs left leads to the waters of Sturgeon Lake. Where the trail turns south, you can head left through the thick grass to the water's edge at The Narrows, a channel which connects Sturgeon Lake with its western arm. The trail turns south, with several spurs leading to the willow-lined shore of Sturgeon Lake (Since the island was extensively diked, there have been no more sturgeon in Sturgeon Lake). From here, you can get good views of Mount Saint Helens looming rather large. The road bed is a carpet of white clover. Blackberries ripen in profusion here in late summer, so come prepared with containers! Pass through a grassy expanse sprinkled with young ash and cottonwood trees. The green oak forest is to the right. The trail turns right again (left is to a stony beach) and passes a bench and a memorial plaque to Keith Bolles Lobdell. Enter oak forest and reach the loop junction, where you turn left back to parking.

From the port-a-potty at the parking area, a short trail leads to a little cove called Wagonwheel Hole on West Sturgeon Lake. http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Oak_Island_Loop_Hike


[su_spoiler title="7. Wild Cherry-Alder Loop - 6.3 mile loop"]

7. Wild Cherry-Alder Loop - 6.3 mile loop-Wild Cherry - Alder Loop is a 6.3 mile loop trail located near Portland, OR and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is accessible year- There are a lot of intersections, so here are the detailed directions:  From the Leif Erickson trailhead (where NW Thurman dead-ends): 0.0 miles in. Leif Erickson to Wild Cherry Trail: .3 miles in. Wild Cherry Trail to Wildwood Trail: .9 miles in. Wildwood Trail to Alder Trail: 2.6 miles in. Alder Trail to Leif Erickson Trail: 3.4 miles in. Back to Leif Erickson trailhead: 4.9 miles completed. round. http://alltrails.com/trail/us/oregon/wild-cherry-alder-loop


[su_spoiler title="8. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge - 3.5 miles"]

8. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge - 3.5 miles- This is a great place to go bird watching. You will follow a path along the east side of a wetland area where you may see some Flycatchers or even ospreys that nest nearby. Once you get to the northern parking area you will turn around and then return via the beautiful Springwater bike trail past Sellwood Park where you can head down to the beach for a side trip with great views of Portland over the Willamette River.  The best parking area is the one on the corner of Southeast 7th Ave and Sellwood Ave near the baseball field. There is no fee to park here.


[su_spoiler title="9. Taulatin Hills Nature Park"]

9. Taulatin Hills Nature Park - In the heart of Beaverton, Cedar Mill Creek spills into the westward flowing Beaverton Creek. Surrounding this confluence is the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, a remarkably diverse 222-acre wildlife preserve with wetlands, forests and streams that are habitat to insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.This nature park is a fascinating place to observe seasonal changes, such as the migration of rough-skinned newts to their breeding ponds or the waves of spring wildflowers or breeding birds. For hikers, birders and botanists of all ages, the mosaic of habitats within the park offers much to be discovered.The features about five miles of trail; 1.5 miles of trails are paved, while the remaining 3.5 miles are well-maintained, soft-surface trails. The Oak Trail and sections of the Vine Maple Trail are paved and wheelchair accessible.

The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is a wildlife preserve, so we ask that you please leave your dogs and other pets at home when you come to visit.

The Tualatin Hills Nature Center is the jumping-off point for visitors entering from the SW Millikan Way parking lot entrance. Stop by the center to check out the exhibits, have your wildlife questions answered, find out about programs or use the restrooms.



[su_spoiler title="10. Smith and Bybee Wetlands Take the Interlakes Trail"] 10. Smith and Bybee Wetlands Take the Interlakes Trail or go by boat to explore one of America’s largest urban wetlands. Either way, you might find beavers, river otters, black-tailed deer, osprey, bald eagles and Western painted turtles. You’ll also find a water control structure that is restoring this network of sloughs, wetlands and forests. Walk the Interlakes Trail. From mid-April through late June, see the lakes up-close by paddling a kayak or canoe. Bring binoculars to look for the many birds that live here or pass through the area.

http://www.oregonmetro.gov/parks/smith-and-bybee-wetlands-natural-area [/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion]


Download 2016 Hiking Map Guide


[contact-form-7 id="1510" title="Contact"]

Fall/Winter 2015/16 Hike Guide



1. Council Crest- 3.3 miles

This hike is a good way to get some decent elevation gain in SW Portland. At the Summit, Council Crest Park, you can expect a 3 mountain view on a clear day, as well as a look into downtown. There is a ring road and lots of cyclists and drivers also come to take in the view.

Start out at the Marquam Nature Park Shelter Trailhead and head to the left. Almost immediately you will hit a junction- head to the right, following the signs to Council Crest. Continue until you reach a junction with the trail that heads down towards the Broadway Avenue trailhead and head towards the left, again following the signs. Soon you will leave the solitude of the forest and travel through neighborhoods in between rows of large houses. There will be a few street crossings over busy roads which do not have crosswalks. The hike steepens just before you summit, so don't give up!

On the return trip you can add in a loop that adds no distance to the hike. At the Broadway Avenue junction, head to the left this time. At the next intersection, there will be an option to continue towards the Broadway trailhead, but head to the right instead, towards the Marquam Park Nature Shelter.


2. Powell Butte, many trails.

Today, miles of trails accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Abundant wildlife populates the park, including rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, ground squirrels, raccoons, gray foxes, skunks, bats, chipmunks, coyotes, and black-tailed mule deer. The park is home to many birds of prey with its open meadows, groves of wild hawthorn trees, forested slopes of Western red cedar, and wetlands near Johnson Creek.

If you park at the visitors center you can take a few trail to the top of the Butte, and get views of Portland to the west and north, Gresham to the east, and SE Portland to Mt Scott to the south.


3. Tryon Creek, many trails. Family Hike approved!

Step  into a lush forest, where woodpeckers forage, squirrels leap from limb to limb, owlets wait quietly for their next meal, beavers work busily by the creek, bats bury deep within the creviced bark of a Douglas-fir tree, and wildflowers paint the understory as the seasons change. Where you can explore 658 acres of second-growth forests, walk along the meandering Tryon Creek, and connect with the flora and fauna that call this special place home.

• 8-miles of hiking trails, 3.5 miles of horse trail, 3-mile paved bicycle trail, and a paved all abilities trail • 8 bridges and a wetland boardwalk • Nature Center with interpretive exhibits and store- this is a great place to layer up, use the bathrooms, dry off and warm up after a hike, or let little ones stretch their legs after being in a carrier on the hike. • Glenn Jackson Shelter


4. Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion- 5 miles.

This easily accessible in-town hike in Macleay Park features a charming creek, lush forest, and a victorian-era mansion with an expansive view of downtown Portland and Mount Hood. This is a great hike to recommend to visitors because you get the forest, a stream with little waterfalls, and an awesome view at the top.

Begin at the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead, and walk under the Thurman Street Bridge towards a red metal sculpture where the Lower Macleay Trail begins. As you approach the trailhead, notice on your left a very strange looking staggered arrangement of wooden walkways and fencing over the creekbed. This is the visual terminus of Balch Creek. It disappears under the huge grate apparatus - called a debris rack-and enters a tunnel where it travels several miles underground to an unnoticeable outlet near the shipping yards on the Willamette River. A rather humble ending to a very charming creek which you will see as you walk upstream.

The Lower Macleay Trail along Balch Creek ends in 0.85 miles where it runs into the Wildwood Trail at the Stone House. Go straight onto the Wildwood Trail, continuing up along the creek bed. You will soon cross over the creek on a footbridge and begin climbing out of the Balch Creek canyon and reach Upper Macleay Park on Cornell road, .54 miles from the Stone House.

Cross Cornell Road at the crosswalk and continue uphill on the Wildwood to the parking lot of Pittock Mansion. There is a fee to tour the inside of the mansion, but strolling the grounds is free. The eastern lawn provides spectacular views of downtown Portland and Mt Hood.

On the return trip, take the Upper Macleay Trail down to make a figure eight loop. It will return you to the Wildwood Trail just before you reach Cornell Road.


5. Wapato Greenway Loop- Sauvie Island-  2.2 miles.

This loop trail, a great family stroll, leads around a seasonal lake along the Multnomah Channel and under tall cottonwoods. The area is part of the Wapato Access Greenway State Park, which absolves you of the need for a Sauvie Island Wildlife Area parking permit. Waterfowl congregate on the lake and you will almost certainly see signs of beaver activity. Bring binoculars!

Hike past a gate and up a maintenance road past the entrance sign. To the right are dense woods with big-leaf maples and Douglas-firs as well as hazel and lots of Armenian blackberry. To the left is a meadow blooming with cow vetch in the spring. Reach a picnic shelter and keep left here under ash and cottonwood trees. A spur trail leads right to a viewing platform over Virginia Lake, which exhibits itself as a grassy expanse with a pond in the middle from mid-spring through fall. Look for the arrow-shaped leaves of wapato, or broad-leaf arrowhead , which blooms here in late summer. The roots of this plant were a staple of Native Americans who lived in the Columbia and Willamette River floodplains (In Europe, a similar species to this is called katniss, she of Hunger Games notoriety). Continuing on the main trail, hike down a vehicle track with thickets of willow, hawthorn, blackberry and hazel on both sides. A spur right leads to a blind from which you can see little as it is shielded by young cottonwoods. Pass a view of the pond and head back into cottonwood/ash woods. A spur left leads to Hadley's Landing, where there are a fishing dock, picnic tables and a horseshoe playing area. The trail now heads along the Multnomah Channel, which is screened from view most of the time by a line of cottonwoods. Snowberry thickets grow strong here, too. Short spurs lead to the high river bank. Soon, pass a cottonwood/ willow wetland on the right. The trail turns in, passing a clump of cherries. Take in a view of the North Pond wetland on the right and cross a footbridge. Reed canary-grass seems to dominate here, along with bluejoint grass. Ascend under ash trees to a road bed and an open field of cow vetch. Note a line of oaks to the right. The meadow is dotted with large sentinels of oak, Douglas-fir and grand fir. Get another view of the lake over the blackberry thickets which fringe the track. Pass a fenced cow pasture and head into a wonderful oak copse followed by dense oak/maple/ash woods. Skirt an inlet of the pond and reach an open area with a huge oak. Soon, arrive at the picnic shelter in its flowery meadow, and go left to head back to parking.


6. Forest Park BPA Road-Newton Road Loop- 8.1 miles.

The far north of Portland's Forest Park is also the least visited section. Here, Portland's elk herd wanders the forest openings and wooded wildlife corridors connect the Tualatin Hills with the Coast Range. When making loops in Forest Park, hikers need to use a variety of tracks, including maintenance roads, abandoned logging tracks, fire lanes, and foot trails. The loop described uses all of these and also takes some interesting detours, one to the area where Portland's elk herd often hangs out, another down Firelane 13 to a viewpoint, and a third diversion to Kielhorn Meadow.


7. Mt Tabor Loop- 2 miles.

Mount Tabor is an extinct volcano, one of many that dot the landscape east of Portland and make up a complex called the Boring Lava Fields. The mountain is the center of a city park of the same name designed by the Olmsteds. There are many routes you can take in this park. The one described here is a loop that gives the maximum elevation gain and distance, with varied scenery. Some points on this route are marked with posts painted with blue arrows.

Begin on the west side of the park, on 60th Street. Hike up the stairs near Hawthorn and 60th to the lowest of the three reservoirs in the park. Turn right to circle south around the reservoir. These reservoirs are the source of Portland's drinking water. The water is piped down from the Bull Run Watershed on the western flanks of Mount Hood.

When you reach the west side of the reservoir, take the stairs that will lead up to the next oval shaped reservoir. Turn right on the access road and look for a trail heading up uphill on your left. This trail goes over a small hill and drops down again above the third and oldest reservoir in the park. Cross the access road on the trail to continue to the summit. This side of the park provides a natural wooded setting amongst huge Douglas-firs. Unfortunately, English ivy and blackberry bushes have invaded the understory. Soon you will reach a five trail junction. In the center is a charming old streetlight with a mossy patina. Turn left here to reach the summit.

A circular drive surrounds the mountain top, but it is closed to motorized traffic. Up here you will just find cyclists, trail-runners and dog-walkers enjoying the summit. Birders with binoculars are often out scouting for the hundreds of species found in the park. From the statue of Mr. Scott, traverse northerly across the grassy hilltop amongst towering Douglas-fir trees. When you reach a bench near a large multi-trunked bigleaf maple, stop for a view of Mt. Hood to the east. Continue downhill northerly past the playground to visit the crater, which is now home to an amphitheater and a basketball court. Turn west from the basketball court and look for the blue signposts to find Skunk Canyon, filled with salmonberry and small cedar trees. At the bottom of the canyon trail, follow the signposts across the access road, and past the tennis court to return to the lower reservoir and 60th Street.


8. Kelley Point Park- 1.8 miles.

The Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet at Kelley Point, and the park's rustling cottonwoods and sandy beaches form idyllic verges to the wide expanses of these two great rivers. Before European settlement, this area was a seasonally flooded sandbar, but the park area was built up by dredgings from the Port of Portland. Hall Jackson Kelley, for whom the park is named, arrived here in 1834 and talked about building a city at the confluence of the two rivers. He ran afoul of the Hudson's Bay Company and returned to the East Coast, but his writings about the area became one of the inspirations for those who migrated here along the Oregon Trail.

From the South Lot, take a paved path at its southern end that leads into a forest of cottonwoods. At a junction, go left on a paved trail to a daisy meadow in an old walnut orchard along the Columbia Slough - an ideal spot for a bucolic picnic. Then return, and go left on the paved tread leading up the Willamette River. Nettles line the trail here. Paths lead left to the narrow beach. At a junction in an open area, take a bark chip trail down to the beach. Here there will usually be a rather tranquil scene, with a couple of fishermen and Caspian terns plying the waters in the summer. Across the Willamette are the fields of Sauvie Island. Walk along the beach to the pilings at the point, where cormorants and gulls perch for prey. The snowy summit of Mount Saint Helens protrudes above the row of cottonwoods on the Washington side of the Columbia. Turning the point at some wooden buttresses and an old anchor, you can see Mount Hood in the distance across the Friendly Reach. Head inland to the paved path and go left. Keep left under the cottonwoods, where there are many side trails. After you pass Picnic Area F, the trail curves right past a restroom building. Walk across a lawn to the north parking lot and then pick up a sandy track that heads across the peninsula through a snowberry thicket. At a junction, go left and reach a vehicle track. This parallels the paved trail you walked in on. Reach the paved trail and walk back to the South Lot. Alternatively, you can pick a route on one of the use trails through the undergrowth, but keep an eye out for nettles.



9. Cooper Mountain Loop Hike- 2.9 Miles.

On a sunny spring day, Cooper Mountain, one of the most recent additions to Metro's panoply of developed parks, is ablaze with unusual wildflowers and affords expansive views across the Tualatin River valley to the Chehalem Hills. There has been extensive work to restore the iconic oak savannah habitat that was in danger of being subsumed by encroaching Douglas-firs. The trails all lead downhill, so be prepared for some uphill on the way back. Interpretive signs around the park explain the natural history of the area. Watch for the resident bobcat in the upper grassy slopes of the park.

At the parking area, there are restrooms in the Nature House, picnic tables, and a play area for children. The trail leads out from the east end of the parking lot, giving views across a meadow to the Chehalem Hills and Parrett Mountain. Pass by plantings of ponderosa pines and come to a junction. To do a full circuit of the park, go left on the Little Prairie Loop. Enter Douglas-fir woods also populated with oaks and madrones. Poison oak is rampant here and climbs high in the trees. The trail switchbacks down four times to a junction. Head left to the Little Prairie Viewpoint. This gives a view over a meadow with hyacinth cluster lilies and white larkspur blooming in June on the shady rims. The Chehalem Hills can be seen over a copse of Oregon white oak.

Back at the junction, go left, walk 20 yards, and go left again down Blacktail Way, another wide graveled trail. Madrones and oaks are prevalent. The path winds down to a clearing with a "listening trumpet" for bird sounds. Keep heading down and cross a wide footbridge over a creek to pass through an open scrubby area with young cottonwoods, Douglas-fir, oak, big-leaf maple, ocean spray and madrone. At a junction, go left on the Cooper Mountain Loop. Soon reach the next junction, where you go left for the Larkspur Loop. This trail drops and then rises after passing over a creek running through a culvert. At the loop junction, bear left and head up in an oak savannah. Notice the poison oak here as well as the white larkspur blooming in the shade in late spring. The trail heads to the right and drops to reach the loop junction. Continue straight back over the creek to the junction with the Cooper Mountain Loop Trail and keep left.

The path reaches the Cooper Mountain Quarry Pond, which is a breeding ground for red-legged frogs. You may see tadpoles and salamander larvae here as well. This man-made oasis is also a good bird watching site. The trail drops, rises, and then turns uphill. Pass along the rim of an oak/madrone savannah, the Big Prairie. Come to a junction with a service road on the left. The trail ascends to the junction with the Overlook Trail. Go right here for views of the Chehalem Hills and Parrett Mountain. The tread rises through a willow thicket and, at a junction, go right, heading past Douglas-fir saplings protected by mouse netting. Cross over another wide footbridge. At a four-way junction, keep straight on the Cooper Mountain Loop. Head up in a meadow, and pass a spur trail on the left. At the junction with the Little Prairie Loop, go left and head uphill into a plantation of young ponderosas. At a last junction, turn left and walk back to the parking area.


10. Thousand Acres at Sandy River Delta Park- 4.2 Miles. Dog Approved!

The Sandy River Delta is by far the largest of Portland's off-leash areas, and a treasure for dog owners that love to run, hike, or just wander aimlessly with their pooch. The "Delta" comprises 1400 acres of wilderness trails, nestled between I-84, the Sandy River, and the Columbia River. The majority of the miles of trails within the park are officially designated as off-leash. The main exception to the off-leash rule is the parking area and the Confluence Trail, which runs from the parking area to the bird viewing area on the Columbia. In both of these areas you'll want to make sure your dogs are on leash because they do frequently ticket. Many of the trails lead to either the Sandy River or the Columbia River, so it's a great place to take your pooch to swim on summer days. The hike from the parking area to the rivers can be several miles, so be sure to bring along water just in case. The park is immense, will a plethora of wide open fields for stellar games of fetch. Bring your binoculars and camera, as the park is great for shutter bugs and birders. The park has recently been given a major overhaul, and now includes substantial parking, toilets, dog bag stations, and several garbage cans near the parking area. There is no running water in the park, so bring your own.


Exploring PDX Through Hiking

IMG_2190 One of my favorite activities is hiking. I love to do urban hikes, like exploring Mt Tabor, getting out to the Gorge, and traveling to do some short backpacking trips around the state, and beyond. Portland and the greater Metro area has some of the best hiking in Oregon, so I've compiled some of my favorites below. Lately (since this last fall when my daughter was born), I've been hiking most weeks with an amazing free group: Hike It Baby. Started in Portland by a new mom, Hike It Baby is open to anyone and everyone with a child (you can borrow one from a family member or friend) from birth on up! Moms, dads, grandparents, nannies, babysitter, and whole families meet up at member led hikes of all levels and lengths to get some exercise, fresh air, and camaraderie. I hope to see you out on the trail!

1. Council Crest- SW Portland- Start on Samuel Jackson Rd, and hike up a steep hill to Council Crest Park. You get a great leg burn, and a rewarding view of downtown, many bridges, and 3 mountains if its clear.

pittock mansion2. Upper McClaey- NW Portland- Hike through part of Forest Park up to Pittock Mansion. You can picnic on the lawn with another amazing view of the city and Mt Hood. Its steep, but pretty short and not as hard as Council Crest.

mt tabor



3. Mt Tabor Rambling- SE Portland- Our very own dormant volcano has 3 great official trails that start at the visitors center (Red, Green, and Blue) but I always start on one and end up switching to another, and then heading up to the summit to finish it off. This can be as chill or challenging as you would like. There is also a big set of stairs if you are needing to up the heart rate quite a bit!

wildwood 4. Forest Park Wildwood Trail- NW Portland- This trail runs 30 miles from one end of the park to the other, but you can access it at many roads and parking lots throughout the park. I like to just pick a spot and go out and back, but you can also do loops with the other trails and fire roads that criss cross the park. This gem of a park is one of the largest in an urban area in the country, and has endless areas to explore.