The Marquam Trail and High School Flashbacks

Last weekend, I wanted a new spot to hike, but something close.  I did a little investigating on a local website,, where I found a description for the Marquam Trail and a PDF with an area map.  There was a small network of trails in the area, with one spur reaching west toward the zoo and the beginning of the famed Wildwood Trail.  I got my gear together, leashed Jackie Chan, and we were off.

Marquam Trail

Hiking through Portlandia–or is it a Grimm set?

Finding a parking spot was the first real challenge, as the small pullouts on Terwilliger Boulevard are skimpy.  I found a two hour spot in a pullout a few hundred yards away and hoped I wouldn’t get a ticket (I didn’t).  The path led up slightly through the woods, over home mud and a few bridges, before it skirted one residential area, then actually climbed hill and crossed a road before descending into small forested canyon, where there was a small network of trails emanating from a spot known as the Marquam Shelter.

About to descend into the canyon

About to descend into the canyon

Once in the canyon, I saw more people, but the trails never felt truly crowded, and it definitely felt like a hike despite a few street crossings.

House like a ship's prow above the trail

House like a ship’s prow above the trail

Council Crest is a great viewpoint, one of the few substantial summits in Portland proper.  In my ill spent youth, when I thought cruising was cool, I undertook various foolish activities in the shadow of the great towers cresting the park.  My first car accident happened on the park loop itself when we tried to stuff eight people in a ‘72 Mercury Capri, and I failed to see the other teenage driver trying to pass me on the right.  Ah, youth.

View to downtown from Council Crest

View to downtown from Council Crest

The views were not great due to cloud cover, but there was some sun poking through, and it was still very pleasant.  There was a group of dog owners working apparently working on retrieval skills.  I later found a great off leash area.

Great off leash area

Great off leash area

Meanwhile, I soaked up some sun on the edge of the observation area and gave Jackie Chan a little food and water.  Two young hikers sat near me.  We discussed less muddy options for the descent.  There did appear to be some connections one could make via the streets.  They left before me, but our paths would cross again.  Twice.   After taking a wrong turn somewhere, they passed me in the canyon.

Jackie and fellow hiker

Jackie and fellow hiker

The descent seemed to go quickly, as it often does on out and back journeys.   I did see more runners and hikers as I descended.   Ultimately, I took almost three hours for the almost six and half mile walk.  Once down at the bottom, I spied the young couple I’d met at Council Crest walking one way to their car on Terwilliger as I walked the other way.  We smiled and exchanged pleasantries.  It was a fitting end to the day.

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on February 19, 2013, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Solo Hiking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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