The magnolias are currently in full bloom at the Hoyt Arboretum, and one of the highlights of the intricate trail system within the park. Click the image to enlarge.
Click here for all nearby TriMet stops.
Photo © Stephanie Paris
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. Continue reading
Photo by Adam Sawyer
Autumn has descended upon the city of roses, and it’s time to celebrate one of the Pacific Northwest’s finest seasons. It’s time for brisk air, football, pumpkin lattes, fall markets, and of course, time to get out and enjoy those changing colors. Topping pretty much every list for best places to view fall color is the Portland Japanese Garden. October and November are perhaps the most breathtaking months of the year to see the Garden, when a multitude of native and Japanese trees put on a stunning fall color display.
Photo by Adam Sawyer
Whether you visit with your sweetie for a romantic walk, journey alone for some peaceful meditation, or bring the family for a day of adventuring, the Japanese Garden is one of the most unique places to spend an afternoon. Kiddos are even provided with a special map of the Garden’s five distinct areas. There are a number of small statues and landmarks listed throughout the area to find while they explore. The objects range from easy to difficult to spot, though all can be found from the main trail.
Visit the Garden’s Hours & Admission page to check current pricing and hours of operation.
Photo by Adam Sawyer
Accessibility by bus:
Monday through Friday only:
Daily service, if you don’t mind walking about a mile:
For easy trip planning assistance, visit TriMet.org and enter your starting location and the Garden’s address (611 SW Kingston Ave.) for a detailed trip itinerary.
Photo by Adam Sawyer
Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave., Portland, OR 97205 503-223-1321
Photo by Adam Sawyer
Cover photo by Adam Sawyer
The Balch Creek Canyon is one of the most beautiful urban canyons to be found anywhere. The transition from crowded city streets to peaceful canopied trail and flourishing canyon happens so quickly that you’ll find it hard to believe a bustling city is just steps away. Located in the Macleay Park section of Forest Park, the trail begins at the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead and soon joins up with the Wildwood Trail. Although the diverse trail system of Forest Park can take you on a number of unique adventures though the 5,100-acre park, one of my favorites is the heart-pumping trip through Balch Creek Canyon up to the historic Pittock Mansion.
Leaving from the lower trailhead at the terminus of Northwest Upshur Street, the trail begins smooth and paved as it enters the canyon. But the concrete soon ends, and the surroundings become more wild and lush as the canyon walls rise. The largest Doug fir trees in Portland are in this part of the park, as well as native cutthroat trout. Discovered in 1987, the small population of trout that reside in the creek helped solidify efforts to restore the health of the entire watershed.
After 0.85 miles, you’ll come to a junction with the Wildwood Trail. Just past this turnoff you’ll find the Stone House, also known as “The Witch’s Castle.” Despite its medieval appearance, what remains here is the stone framework of an elaborate rest station, once with bathrooms, that was originally erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930s (though what you tell the kids about the mossy, fern-covered tribute to spookiness is entirely up to you).
Continue straight along the path that follows the creek, cross over a footbridge, and soon the trail ascends up three long switchbacks to the Upper Macleay Park on Cornell Road, .54 miles from the Stone House. Follow the path around the parking lot and use the crosswalk to cross Cornell Road and pick up the Wildwood Trail on the other side. The trail continues steadily up hill to the Pittock Mansion parking lot.
The Pittock Mansion holds historical significance, and the visual magnificence of the mansion and its grounds, including views of Portland’s skyline and Mt. Hood, offer a generous reward for your efforts.
Touring the grounds is free, but for an extra treat, I highly recommend paying the small entrance fee to tour the inside of the mansion. The exquisite artifacts, furniture, art, and every other piece of the house has been carefully preserved, and the moment you step into the mansion, you feel as though you’ve stepped 100 years back in time.
Once you’ve satiated your Downton Abbey fantasies, head back the way you came, and enjoy the lush forest as you descend back down the trail, across Cornell road, and down through the Balch Creek Canyon. The total hike is approximately 5 miles round trip, with about 900 feet of elevation gain.
How to get there by bus:
From downtown, board Line 15 at SW Washington & Broadway stop ID 6137. Alternatively, you can also take line 77 from the rose quarter transit center stop ID 2592. Whichever bus you choose, you’ll get off at NW Vaughn & 27th stop ID 8802. To get to the trailhead, walk east on Vaughn St., turn left on 26th Ave, right on Upshur St., and walk a short distance to the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead. Visit trimet.org‘s trip planning page and enter your starting location and use the ending location of stop ID 8802 to get your specific route and scheduled departures/arrivals.
Collaborative article by Adam Sawyer and Stephanie Paris
Portland’s 4T Trail is quite possibly the coolest city/forest/transit adventure in existence. The T’s of the 4T Trail stand for Train (MAX), Trail, Tram, and Trolley (Portland Streetcar). When combined, these T’s create an approximately nine-mile loop and a quintessential Portland experience. The 4T highlights some of the city’s best assets: urban parks and trails, stunning views of volcanoes and cityscapes, a tram ride, and our legendary public transportation. For all these reasons and more, the 4T makes for an excellent outing for adventurers of all ages.
There are four different trailheads, one for each T of the trip. And although you can begin the trip at any of the trailheads, I prefer to start and finish downtown, making the Train the first T segment of the trip. Before you begin your journey, you’ll want to purchase a TriMet Day Pass at one of the fareboxes located at any MAX stop. Put your ticket in a safe place, as it is valid on the Portland Streetcar as well.
Hop on a westbound MAX train, either the Red Line towards Beaverton or the Blue Line towards Hillsboro. Both will get you to your stop at Washington Park/Oregon Zoo. If you’re travelling with children, you might want to alert them of the awesomeness that you are about experience as you enter a tunnel that takes you deep beneath the zoo. At 260 feet below the surface, the MAX station at Washington Park is the deepest transit station in North America! Get off here and take the elevator up to the zoo parking area where you will begin the second T of your trip.
The Trail segment of the loop departs from the Washington Park MAX station and takes you on a 4.5-mile hike up to OHSU. Begin the hike by walking over to the zoo entrance, but not into the zoo. We’ll save that for another trip. Follow the sidewalk as it leads you downhill and out of the parking area. Remember to watch for the 4T signs. The sidewalk will lead you over Highway 26. Cross the eastbound onramp to the shoulder and take a left, hiking east down the onramp a short distance. Don’t be fooled by the unmarked boot path off to the right. Wait until you see the sign marking the 4T Trail and begin hiking up the Marquam Trail towards Council Crest. Even though you’re within city limits, you’d never know it by the lush beauty of this forest. Once you reach the summit of Council Crest, the highest point in Portland proper, soak up the views and take a well-earned breather before descending into the Marquam Nature Park. Follow the 4T Trail signs, which eventually lead you to Fairmount Blvd where you will turn right to take the Urban Shortcut to the Tram.
The Tram from OHSU is the third T segment of your journey. Hours vary, but the ride is free since you’re heading down. The ride is brief but breathtaking, especially on a clear day when the volcanic peaks are visible. Although the tram’s main purpose is the daily commute of hospital staff, it sure is a fun 5 minutes for those of us that don’t get to take the ride every day!
Once you exit the Tram, the OHSU Commons streetcar (Trolley) stop is just steps away. The streetcar signifies the end of hiking or standing, and your final T segment of the day, so take a load off. Enjoy the ride for ten full stops, exiting the streetcar at the Central Library (SW 10th & SW Yamhill). I love finishing at this downtown location because it is an optimal spot to grab lunch or dinner. If you’re looking for a tasty bite, Elephants in the Park, located at Director Park (SW Taylor and SW 9th) is a crowdpleaser. If you want a sweet treat, try TartBerry for delicious self-serve frozen yogurt (SW 9th & SW Taylor). There are a number of options here, including the food cart pod at SW 9th and SW Alder, so you should be able to find many tasty ways to reward your day’s efforts.
For maps and detailed directions, please check out the 4T website.
(Original story by Adam Sawyer, adapted with permission by Stephanie Paris)