Hike #19: Marquam Park to Council Crest

Our nineteenth self-led-hike was brought to us by our partners at “Friends of Marquam Nature Park”.  This hike will take you to Portland’s highest point with spectacular views of the city skyline with Cascade mountain peaks as a backdrop. Read on for more details.

Name:  Marquam Park to Council Crest
Neighborhood: Homestead
Distance: 3.29 miles
Elevation Change: 773 ft
Start/End Location: Marquam Shelter
Map Links:  Mobile* Browser

This route explores the northern reaches of Marquam Nature park and visits Council Crest, Portland’s highest peak. Along the way, you’ll see hand-crafted totem poles and, on a clear day, four peaks of the Cascade mountains!

Begin your hike at the Marquam Nature Park Shelter on SW Marquam Street. This is the official entrance to the park. Signs say that parking is limited to 2 hours, this hike should take less than that.  Note that these directions guide you in a clockwise direction from the starting point. There are a lot of trails originating at this point so it is important to find the correct route.

Before you begin, take a few minutes to enjoy the interpretive displays and the Marquam Mosaic, a community art project created in 2013. The project, led by artist Lynn Takata and the Friends of Marquam Nature Park, was funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Over 400 community members created the ceramic and glass tile mosaic featuring the flora and fauna of the park. Behind where the mosaic is today, was the original planned site in the late 1960s for a 600-unit apartment complex. A small group of neighbors organized and raised funds to buy the property from the developers, built trails and created Marquam Nature Park, which was dedicated in 1983. The non-profit, Friends of Marquam Nature Park, eventually donated the land to the city of Portland but continues to partner with Portland Parks & Recreation to maintain what is now over 200 acres of natural area.

Begin hiking up the trail closest to the left (south) side of the shelter toward Council Crest (NOT the Basalt Trail on the far left.) At the first intersection, stay straight, following the Shadyside Trail up the south side of the Marquam Ravine. In .3 mi the Shadyside intersects with the Marquam Trail. Turn right and hike uphill through a series of switchbacks. Fences were constructed here to keep people and dogs from cutting switchbacks, which tramples plants and causes erosion. Sadly, these fences are breeched regularly. The next intersection is where the Sunnyside Trail comes up from the North side of the ravine. Continue left on the Marquam Trail which will soon ascend to Sherwood Dr. As you cross the street to follow the trail, look back to the house on the left where you can see some beautiful totem poles, professionally and artfully carved by the homeowner. Proceed on the Marquam Trail until the trail emerges onto Fairmount Blvd. You are now officially leaving Marquam Nature Park and entering Council Crest Park. Cross Fairmount and continue uphill for .3 mi, crossing Greenway Ave and then making the final .2 mi ascent to the top of Council Crest.

Enjoy a rest, a bathroom break, a picnic, or on a clear day, at least the view of 4 Cascade peaks from atop the highest point in Portland at 1,083 feet. To continue this hike, walk back to the Marquam Trail on which you ascended. Make a left this time and head around the north side of Council Crest for .3mi until you go down a few stairs. There, take a right and walk down until you emerge from the park at SW Talbot and SW Fairmount. Turn right on Talbot Terrace, the street just to the right. Proceed with caution as there is no sidewalk on this stretch. Talbot Terrace will end at Greenway. Make a left on Greenway to the sidewalk and walk down the hill to Patton Rd. When you make a right, Patton soon becomes Broadway Dr. Cross the street at Vista and continue on Broadway until Ravensview veers off on the left. Walk uphill on Ravensview and make the first a right onto Corona (not named for the virus), a small street that will dead end into Gerald. Go right on Gerald and look for the SWTrail #6 sign at a staircase on the right. The stairs will take you down to Broadway. Cross with caution and go downhill a few steps until you reach the Broadway Trail which takes you back into Marquam Nature Park. Walk down the Broadway Trail for.3 mi to a “T” intersection at the Sunnyside Trail. Turn left and walk downhill .3 to return to the Marquam Shelter where you began.

Happy Trails,

*To follow this route, use the Explorer for ArcGIS App to follow along. Simply Download the Explorer for ArcGIS app and touch here on any mobile device. The route is highlighted on an interactive map.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #swtrails to share your very best pictures.

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