Powerline hike: a new view of Forest Park

I was torn today between checking out a new spot to hike and getting the dog out.  Mount Talbert didn’t allow dogs.  The species discriminators strike again!  So I blew it off and drove toward Forest Park so I could bring Jackie Chan.   The trailheads on Germantown Road were relatively crowded, so I headed north on the Wildwood Trail.  Good thing, too.

Kids would love to crawl under these roots

Kids would love to crawl under these roots

The Wildwood Trail is always relatively popular, but my theory is that north of German town would be more quiet.  I certainly saw some traffic, but not much.


When I hit Newton Road a little over a mile from the trailhead, I took a quick look at the map posted at major intersections.  I saw loop potential and headed downhill toward the bottom of the BPA Road.   I then lost a good 500 feet of elevation as the trail almost went down to Highway 30.   As the bottom,  Newton Road (which felt like a firelane until close to the bottom) opens up in a meadow where a single runner passed us.  Then we saw no people for 30 minutes.



I found the BPA road and headed up the gravel and grass track.  I assume the road is named for the Bonneville Power Administration, as it gives access to the powerlines.  Parts of the path were quite steep and I took my time.  Since I was in the sun now, I started sweating like the water glass on my  bedside table at night (reading World War Z right now).


Looking back toward the Willamette River and beyond to the Columbia, views started getting tremendous:  Mt. St. Helens, Mount Adams, and more.


My vantage could fool people.  Without a shot of downtown, many residents probably wouldn’t know it was Portland below.


The climb uphill was longer than expected, but it was very pleasant, and then there was rolling open terrain as we closed back in on the Wildwood Trail.  This felt nothing like the rest of the lovely but darky wooded Forest Park, and that made it a treat.

Jackie had time to smell the crabgrass while I plodded: steeper than it looks.

y Jackie had time to smell the crabgrass while I plodded: steeper than it looks.

This hike was a nice surprise.  The Newton Road and BPA Road was a solid four mile loop that had few walkers or runners, and the latter half had a unique feel due to the open nature.  Powerlines are not the most aesthetic landscape feature on a hike, but I felt thankful that I could safely walk along them, enjoy the view, break a healthy sweat, and just think.   It turned out to be a seven mile hike– just the right length for an afternoon.

Near the end of the hike I noticed a placard near the ground with a quotation from the famous Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, in honor of someone who died in 2003.  It read “Be Free where you are.”  I contemplated where I was, where I had been, powerlines and all, and I felt a little freer.

"Be Free Where You Are."  Agreed

P.S. In a tiny piece of only slightly forced synchronicity, I realized this evening that a new foodcart down the street offers Vietnamese cuisine.

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 June 9, 2013, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Outdoors, Solo Hiking, Urban Hiking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This sounds lovely! We were thinking of a Forest Park hike this weekend, would love more detailed directions to this trail head. Thanks for sharing.

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