Steve's Southwest Portland Loop
This page describes a nice little loop hike that incorporates a great deal of what makes Portland such a
great city. It starts out at the Marquam Shelter near Oregon Health Sciences University, makes its way through the Park blocks
at Portland State University, climbs past the Multnomah Athletic Club through the Vista neighborhood and
up to the International Rose Test Gardens. It then climbs around the back of the
Japanese Garden and
intersects the Wildwood Trail, which it follows to the Vietnam Memorial near the Oregon Zoo. It then
follows the Marquam Trail behind the Oregon Children's' Museum (former location for the Oregon Museum of
Science and Industry (OMSI)), drops down to cross Highway 26, then climbs up to
Council Crest. At the high point of the hike, the Marquam Trail plunges down along a steep ravine back
to your car at the Marquam Shelter. It takes me between 2.5 and 3 hours to complete.
- Park at the Marquam Shelter which is located near OHSU on SW Marquam Street off SW Sam Jackson Park Road.
- Bear left on Sam Jackson Road and follow it back to SW Terwilliger Boulevard.
- Bear left on Terwilliger Boulevard and follow it toward Portland.
- Terwilliger Boulevard turns into 6th Avenue when you pass SW Sheridan Street.
- Follow SW 6th Avenue across I-405.
- Cross to the west side of 6th Avenue where the sidewalk ends immediately after crossing the I-405 overpass and follow a bike path sheltered by cedar trees for one block, which parallels I-405 to SW Broadway.
- Turn right on Broadway and follow it one block to SW Jackson Street.
- Turn left on Jackson Street and follow it one block to Park Avenue.
- Turn right into Park Avenue for one block to College Street.
- Continue straight into the Park Blocks and enjoy the trees to SW Jefferson Street.
- Turn left on Jefferson Street and follow it across I-405 to SW 18th Avenue.
- Turn right on 18th Avenue and follow it to SW Salmon Street.
- Turn left on Salmon Street and climb to SW King Avenue.
- Turn right on King Avenue and then immediately turn left onto Park Place.
- Follow Park Place up to Lewis & Clark Way at the entrance to Washington Park.
Washington Park Quarter
- Climb the stairs to the monument displaying the seals of the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
- Descend past the playground on your left, then cross the street to the sidewalk above the reservoir.
- Turn right along the sidewalk, continue past a maintenance road with Do Not Enter signs and then turn left onto a paved path toward the Rose Garden and Amphitheater.
- Follow the paved path behind the amphitheater (you can't see it behind a hill and trees on the right) and climb right into the northeast corner of the International Rose Test Gardens.
- Stay left left and follow the line of Rose Festival Princess medallions embedded in the sidewalk; in 1975 Queen Heather was the first and only Rose Festival Queen from Jackson High School, my alma mater.
- Continue into the Shakespearean Garden to a sundial.
- Turn right and walk to the front of the garden and imagine the many couples who are married here each year. (Yes, I participated in one of those.)
- Turn right and exit the garden.
- Then turn left and climb to the fountain at the top of the Garden.
- Turn left at the fountain, then turn right and climb up to restrooms and the Rose Garden Store. This is a great place for a potty break and a cold drink of water.
- Head past the end of the tennis courts, then turn right and follow the tennis courts north.
- Cross Rose Garden Boulevard and enter the service road up to the Japanese Gardens.
- Proceed up the service road past an entrance to the Japanese Gardens and climb the winding road until just before the employee parking.
- Leave pavement just before a large gate in favor of real trail on your right, which is a feeder trail to the Wildwood Trail.
- Climb the switch-backing trail to a junction with the Wildwood Trail.
- Turn left on the Wildwood Trail, which you will follow for just under 2 miles. Along the way, you will round in and out of ravines, pass the archery range and wind past a water tower.
- After the only road crossing (SW Knights Boulevard) on this section of the Wildwood Trail arrives at an intersection with the Hemlock Trail.
- Bear left, continue on the Wildwood Trail and pass a spur trail to the left and another trail to the right (which is a shortcut to the Marquam Trail).
- Turn right at an intersection with the Marquam Trail above the Vietnam War Memorial.
- Turn right onto the Marquam Trail, which curves above and around the backside of the Vietnam War Memorial, and follow a the grassy trail behind the World Forestry Center to a connector trail (that continues left toward the Oregon Children's Museum).
- Turn right and drop steeply into a grove of trees to meet SW Canyon Court 100 feet west of an intersection with SW Canyon Road (which leads to the zoo).
- Proceed to the intersection and turn right to cross Highway 26 on the overpass.
Council Crest Quarter
- After crossing the overpass, turn left as if you were a car about to enter Highway 26 heading into Portland.
- Pass the "Form 2 Lines" sign, ignoring the poor trail that takes off from here.
- Immedialy before the traffic control light, turn right onto good trail again and climb into the forest.
- Climb a third of a mile up to a junction with SW Patton Road.
- Turn right on Patton Road and proceed 100 feet to the intersection with SW Talbot Road at the blinking light.
- Turn left onto SW Talbot Road (stay on the right side of the road).
- Proceed to a Y in the road where Talbot Road bears left and SW Fairmont Boulevard bears right.
- Split the difference and proceed up the paved path that climbs the hill between the two.
- Bear left at the first trail juncction. Here the Marquam Trolley used to run between Portland and Council Crest (you can still see the trolley bed).
- Continue uphill to a trail junction
- Bear right at the trail junction and climb up to Council Crest (the Marquam Trail bears left and we will return to it later) where the trail breaks out into the Council Crest Proper near the radio tower.
- Climb up to the high point of Council Crest and enjoy unparalleled views on a clear day.
Marquam Park Quarter
- Leave the summit of Council Crest in the direction of Mount St. Helens toward a field on the other side of the summit road.
- Continue down the field to a large sign marking the Marquam Trail.
- Turn left into an opening in the trees to join the trail again.
- Turn right onto the Marquam Trail and proceed downhill to a junction with SW Greenway Avenue.
- Cross Greenway Avenue and continue your descent to a junction with SW Fairmont Boulevard.
- Cross Fairmont Boulevard and continue your descent while marveling at the incredible houses on either side precariously perched on the slopes.
- After a couple more road crossings, you will come to a trail junction where you will bear left (you could take the right branch if you like as it goes to the same place).
- At the next trail junction, bear right (again, you could take the left branch if you like as it goes to the same place).
- Finally, you will reach the Marquam Shelter and your car.