Image courtesy of Google Maps
A funny thing happens when I mention the hike on Mt. Talbert: whomever I am speaking with tries to correct me by saying, “You mean Mt Tabor…” Nope. I mean Mt. Talbert, one of the many dormant or extinct volcanoes that dot the southeast region of the city. The fact that not many know about its existence inspired me to feature this little gem of a walk in the woods. Mt. Talbert is a forest-covered, 750-foot-tall, ancient, worn-down shield volcano located just a few miles southeast of Portland near Sunnyside, and resides within the Kellogg-Mt Scott watershed. With over 250 acres of conserved natural area, it is one of the most healthy wildlife habitats in the urban Portland metropolitan region.
Mt. Talbert is seen by tens of thousands of commuters every day along Interstate 205, likely most of them not knowing that a beautiful park resides at the top. A network of 4 miles of trail covers the Mt. Talbert Nature Park. Even though the hiking trails are just feet away from neighborhoods and businesses, there is an abundance of wildlife that can be seen on this hike, including deer, western gray squirrels, pileated and hairy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches and western tanagers. The forest is comprised of Douglas Firs and groves of Western Red Cedars and Oregon White Oaks.
The park is intriguing and beautiful, with colorful moss and lichen on the trees and dense expanses of ferns along the slopes. This is a family-friendly hike, and I would say it ranges from easy to moderate, due to the elevation gain on some of the trails. In the winter the bare, leafless branches give the forest a mysterious ambiance and openness. You may notice areas of Douglas Firs that have been logged and laid to rest. This is done as a means to allow the Oregon White Oaks to flourish. Douglas Firs outgrow oaks and eventually shade them out. This also improves the area for oak-loving wildlife to flourish.
The North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District provides day-to-day management of the park. There are restrooms and picnic tables at the Mather Road Trailhead, which is worth visiting due to an interpretive display and a lovely small native prairie. The park opens a half an hour before sunrise and closes one hour after sunset. Bikes and dogs are not allowed in the park as they they can damage sensitive habitat and threaten wildlife. Thank you for respecting the mountain and its native inhabitants.
There are multiple ways to get to the park by bus. If you want to add even more exercise to your hike, you could take the MAX Green Line to the Clackamas Town Center TC (stop ID 13248) and then walk the one mile to the Talbert Drive Trailhead. If you want to start the hike closer to the park, from the Clackamas Transit Center, you can take bus line 156 to SE 97th Ave & SE Talbert Dr (stop ID 10235) and walk up Talbert Dr to the Talbert Drive Trailhead. And for the least amount of extra walking, from the Clackamas Transit Center, take bus line 155 to SE Sunnyside & 117th (stop ID 10580) and begin the hike at the Sunnyside Road Trailhead. Trail signs and maps are conveniently located at most trail junctions in the park, so navigating the trail system is relatively easy. Happy hiking!
Article by Stephanie Paris and Frank Paris
Cover photo by Frank Paris