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.

Portland area winter hikes part 2: Angel’s Rest

By Josh McCarroll

For my second winter hike I wanted to make a day trip out of it and get out of the city. I also wanted a place that was easy to find, and safely accessible for PSU students in the case of snow. I tried out Angel’s rest.

Angel’s Rest was one of the many previously closed Columbia River Gorge hikes that reopened at the end of November. The scars from the eagle creek fire remain, but this hike still boasts a beautiful view of the gorge for much of the hike.

If you are equipped with only a pair of rugged tennis shoes as I was, I would suggest going on a cold, dry day rather than a rainy day to avoid the mud. I went on a rainy Sunday and found this hike to be surprisingly crowded. Slippery, muddy stretches are broken up by rocky stretches like in the photo above and many hikers I saw on the trail braved puddles and mud with waterproof boots and hiking poles.

A friend in a moment of mild frustration with the mud and crowds

That said, in the end the hike pays off. The top of Angel’s rest is a wide open space with plenty of flat rocky sitting areas. Even on a crowded Sunday, I felt there was enough space on top that I could zone out and appreciate the view of the Gorge without feeling cramped or in anyone’s way.

A view of Rooster Rock State Park and Sand Island near the top of the hike.

If you want a less crowded journey to the top, I would suggest going early on a weekday. There is no day pass or parking payment required. The hike is just a 30 minute drive east on the I-84. Take exit # 28/Bridal Veil. Follow Bridal Veil road until a stop sign where you will turn right onto the Historic Columbia River Hwy. The parking lot for the trailhead is immediately on the right.

Portland area winter hikes. Part 1

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Josh McCarroll

One of the many things that make hiking in the forest such a beautiful experience is the knowledge that it is far older than us and the perception that it will be around long after we die. This perceived permanence always allows us the space to appreciate Oregon’s forests some other day. However, any of them could burn away by next summer.

I was born and raised in Oregon but since I started school I have used it as an excuse to be less adventurous. In light of the Eagle Creek and subsequent fires, I have made an effort to explore more and appreciate the beauty Oregon has to offer before it disappears.  

This post is the first in a series of three winter hikes. Many hikes become inaccessible or too dangerous in the winter time, so I will focus on hikes that are not only safely accessible and trekkable, but still beautiful during the cold months.  

Macleay Park

On a snowy Tuesday morning, I opted to go on a hike that requires no driving for Portlanders or park fees whatsoever, and I found Macleay Park.

From campus you can take the NS streetcar line to the NW 23rd and Marshall stop. From there you can make your way through a cute neighborhood by foot until you reach NW Upshur Street. The west end of this street dead ends at the park. After walking under the Balch Gulch Bridge, you will find the entrance to the trail, which has very clear instructions on possible routes depending on how deep into Forest Park you want to explore.

The great part about this hike is you can easily add it to the beginning or end of a busy day with not much preparation or planning. The trail is wide, easy to walk and is in excellent condition. I was able to hike the entire 2-mile loop comfortably in everyday tennis shoes. Same goes for the 6-mile loop: no hiking poles or fancy boots needed.

The small 2-mile loop brings you back to the top of the historic Balch Gulch bridge which is the route I enjoyed on my quick excursion before class. One of the things I found lovely about this hike was the structures. The beauty of this hike doesn’t necessarily rely on the lush greenery that comes about it in summer. The Lower Macleay trail runs along Balch Creek, and hikers encounter several wood bridges across the creek before they reach the Stone House.

The Stone House, known by some as the witch’s castle, is about fifteen minutes in. It is the point where the Lower Macleay trail intersects Forest Park’s Wildwood trail.

This trail is popular for Portlanders that want to get out of the city for a quick escape. However, this may make it a bit crowded on weekends. I would recommend visiting it on a weekday before the locals from the surrounding neighborhood get off work. I only encountered a handful of hikers during my visit on a Tuesday morning.