Hike to Council Crest from Campus

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Joshua McCarroll

Hikers enjoying a view of Mount hood from the OHSU tram.

As a student I have found if you work on a single project for too long without breaks, you begin to dig yourself into a sort of mental ditch, attacking the problem with the same strategy and thoughts over and over. You lose perspective.

I found myself in one of these mental holes of frustration at the PSU library recently and needed to climb out. I realized the perfect place to shift my perspective was only three miles away, and I headed to the highest accessible point in Portland.

A cyclist enjoying the view at the top of Council Crest.

This point is in the center of a park called Council Crest, and if you Google how to hike there from PSU you will likely find the 4T route. The route owes its name to the four methods of transit that lead to the top: the train, the trail, the tram, and the trolley. For instance, you can take the Max from PSU to the Oregon Zoo stop, then hike southeast to council crest.

Riding the Max is not my idea of adventure, so I modified the hike to Council Crest to begin directly from the South end of the PSU Park Blocks. I wanted to exit the library and immediately begin my hike. On the map below I highlighted in green the route I took including some convenient pedestrian stairwells and shortcuts.

Walking along SW Terrace Drive brought me to SW Gerald Avenue, the point where the highlighted path in the image above turns from green to brown. At this point, I found official signs leading to the Southwest trails that lead to Council Crest.

The view of SW Portland from SW Cardinal Drive, including the Benson tower, the Fox Tower, and the 1000 Broadway building.

I love architecture as much as I love nature so I was satisfied with the beautiful homes and the great views of the city provided by my trek through this neighborhood in the Southwest Hills.

The Fremont Bridge as seen through the trees about a mile down Cardinal Drive.
Many of the pedestrian shortcuts briefly lead off the streets and between beautiful private gardens.

At the entrance to Marquam Nature Park, another 1.3 miles of trails with many guideposts leads to the Council Crest Summit. The trails are uneven and at times steep but I hiked them easily in regular tennis shoes. The trails were also surprisingly empty. I only crossed one group’s path my entire hike.

 Near the entrance of Marquam nature park.
A view through the fog nearing the top of Council Crest.

At the top it was too cloud to see any mountains, but, on a clear day, it’s possible to see Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson.

The Crest is a popular destination for bikers.

On the route back, take the Marquam Trail from the Crest to Fairmont Boulevard. I took a right on Fairmont Boulevard, and a 25-minute walk along SW Marquam Hill Road to OHSU.

A great part of this hike is the free tram ride at the end, offering an incredible aerial view of Portland as it glides through the air down to the South Waterfront.
Find the tram schedule here.

After the  tram, take another free ride on the streetcar back to PSU.

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