Hiking to Pittock Mansion and a Whole Lotta Love

In between rounds at the Waterfront Blues Festival, I needed a decent hike, but I had little time, which was frustrating.   I always have the fantasy of trekking in Nepal or circumnavigating Mont Blanc, but most of my hikes are local and casual.  So it goes.  Yesterday, I opted to start in Lower Macleay Park, as I have done in the past, seeking what passes for elevation gain inside Portland city limits.

Beginning of the Balch Creek Trail

Beginning of the Balch Creek Trail

By the time I had cruised three quarters of a mile along Balch Creek and joined the Wildwood Trail, I’d passed 25-35 people.  This is not the trail for solitude on a weekend.   Normally I would avoid it on a weekend, but it is close, pretty, and still offers a challenge.

Glad I don't have allergies around this much cottonwood fluff

Glad I don’t have allergies around this much cottonwood fluff

Little cliff completely covered in moss along Balch Creek

Little cliff completely covered in moss along Balch Creek

The Wildwood Trail climbs in half a mile to the Audubon Sanctuary on Cornell Road, then continues toward Pittock Mansion.   There are a couple of trail junctions, including one which called to mind my recent trip to Maryland.

Jackie Chan at the new Cumberland Gap

Jackie Chan at the new Cumberland Gap: go west, young pup

Many people were walking and running in the forested hills, over many switchbacks.  Running shoes were definitely the footwear of choice.   With few exceptions, the trail is very smooth and make for easy walking, although effort is required. All told, there is around almost 900 feet of elevation gain. Not bad for inside the city limits.

Steeper than it looks.  Quite a few switchbacks

Steeper than it looks. Quite a few switchbacks

The Pittock Mansion is a unique destination for the top of an ascent.   It is a great old building, and there are spectacular views to the east.   Should you desire, you can drive up and pay for guided tours through the mansion, learning a chunk of Portland history.  I took a quick look at the building and turned around.

The Pittock Mansion

The Pittock Mansion

Here’s a fun bit of trivia:  Henry Pittock, for whom the mansion is named, and who was an avid outdoorsman besides being publisher of The Oregonian, is credited by most with the first ascent of Mount Hood, on July 11, 1857.   I think my hike just got more credibility.

On the descent, I veered onto the Upper Macleay Trail to make a bit of a loop.   It was pleasant, but offered little to recommend it over the Wildwood Trail.  I made good time back to the Cornell Road crossing and then to the bottom of Balch Creek Canyon, where the crowd increased.

Flowers near the Audubon Sanctuary

Flowers near the Audubon Sanctuary

I was happy to return to the car, and soon, drove to the Blues Festival for the closing night.  My wife and I love going each year, and this year we brought our pup into the fest.   This year’s festival, while not without controversy for a couple reasons, was as good as any in recent memory.   Try this variety and talent on for size: Nikki Hill, Robert Randolph, Mavis Staples, Chubby Carrier, and Taj Mahal.  And that’s just one day.

D and Jackie with earmuff--Robert Randolph was loud!

D and Jackie with earmuffs–Robert Randolph was loud!

There was also some guy named Robert Plant singing a ditty about a whole lot of love.  He did many familiar songs, including a great cover of “Spoonful,”  and some Zeppelin songs were reworked with more of a world music feel.  Amazingly, Plant still has the magic.  After seeing Eric Burdon a couple nights earlier singing “It’s My Life” and “House of the Rising Sun”, and now hearing Plant sing “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Whole Lotta Love”, I ticked off a bucket list item without planning on it.  What a weekend.

The man himself

The man himself

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 July 8, 2013, in Bucket List, Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Historical sites, Outdoors and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. The hike sounds good, but the music sounds great!

  2. Yes, Blues Fest!–enjoyed it a few years! Thanks for the new info about Henry–love Pittock Mansion at Christmas most of all. On 7/4 we hiked off Germantown Road (in Forest Park)–great trails, some more vigorous than others if you haven’t been in that area.

  3. One of my favorite hikes-with-a-destination in Portland. Thanks for the memories. We spent the weekend in Abruzzo and there was NO ONE on the trails, except a guy harvesting firewood and a little pony along for fun. Will post that soon on my blog. Something you don;t see in Oregon. 🙂

  4. Great writing. Sounds like fun. Wow, I always loved Robert Plant. Tell Denise she looks great. You two are good puppy parents bringing protect ear wear.

  5. That trail is still beautiful, despite the crowds. I’m bummed i missed the Blues Festival…but I was out definitely enjoying the outdoors! It looks like you had a great 4th!

  6. Hmmm, your pictures make me long to the mountains again! And especially the forests there. Nature stuff, you know.
    Sounds like you had a great time, glad to see that!

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