Not Quite a Mount, Talbert (but I like ya anyway)

Light in the forest--a beautiful day for a hike

Light in the forest–a beautiful day for a hike

A hill should not be called a mountain, but I couldn’t hold such mis-labeling against Mount Talbert for too long. After all, it definitely pokes above the surrounding landscape southeast of Portland. It is also one of the only such buttes in the area which still has a pristine forested top. There are signs of selective logging low on the west side, but it has been well done despite the remaining slash piles. When I got a surprise day off a couple days ago, I had to take advantage of the good weather. After all, our summer preview will soon come to a close. I’d been meaning to check out Mount Talbert for months, so this was a good opportunity to cross it off the tick list.

Nice wildflowers in the forest along the Mather Road spur

Nice wildflowers in the forest along the Mather Road spur

The well-designed trailhead on Mather Road was a perfect place to begin my walk. There is a small picnic shelter area, a bathroom, and ample parking (a Fed Ex truck took up four spots sideways, but there was no shortage of space).  At the start of the trail there are a couple interpretive signs and a readable map.  From there, it is easy to set out on multiple loop treks. More specifically, try the Summit Trail for a short loop with some views, or consider the much longer Park Loop Trail around the periphery for a longer ramble. I combined the two, with the West Ridge Trail as a connector. At the beginning, the trail heads uphill immediately through a few switchbacks, and I rapidly boosted my heart rate. Later I would see a couple joggers and a serious walker with ear buds in. Locals must know this a good spot for a workout. Me, I was just there for the scenery.

Believe it or not , this is the summit.  Love the shadows on the dirt

Believe it or not , this is the summit. Love the shadows on the dirt

The interpretive signage at the bottom points out that there are various oak restoration areas in the park. I noticed that those areas have sparser undergrowth besides ferns, and they are much more open to sunlight. Although there is a good amount of uphill walking, the so called summit is very unassuming. There are slight views to the south. My favorite part was descending from that high point. The forest seemed more like a real mountainside, calling to mind the lower stretches of Salmon Butte.

This is looking downhill, calling to mind Fern Gully

This is looking downhill.  Isn’t there a book called Fern Gully?

I’d seen nobody on the Summit Trail, but I did encounter a few folks descending the West Ridge trail as it dropped to the north. Then I cut back on the Park Loop toward Mather Road. The walk lasted about an hour. I probably walked a bit over two miles. It was a weekday, but I was surprised how few people were out on a nice day. The trails were in good shape, the intersections were well marked with one exception, and the forest was unspoiled.

More gorgeous flowers on the Park Loop section

More gorgeous flowers on the Park Loop section

Note: Dogs are not allowed at Mt. Talbert in an effort to respect the local wildlife. Luckily, Jackie Chan was out of town with his mama, so I didn’t feel guilty about going it alone. A couple other people ignored the signs, but I might have noticed a bit more wildlife noise without Jackie on the path. There were lots of juncos, sparrows, and robins, some squirrels, and something big in the leaves below a drop-off.  I never saw the creature.  Maybe next time.  I’ll have to come back, and it will be a pleasure.

As rugged as it gets.  Climbing back to the West Ridge

As rugged as it gets. Climbing back to the West Ridge

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 May 4, 2014, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Outdoors, Urban Hiking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Your photos from Mt. Talbert remind me of why I love walking in the woods and around my pond.The Mather Road spur photo sparkles. Lovely..

  2. I’ve hiked this as well and it is a lovely little gem. Thanks for sharing!

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