A Hiker’s Delight – Trails and Transit in Portland, Oregon

When: February 14th, 2010

How: Take either the red or blue MAX line to the deepest underground train station in North America – Washington Park Station. Climb out of the tunnel where you’ll learn about different geological eras and into (hopefully) the sunshine to join the Wildwood Trail.

No maps I found are too great, but Travel Portland has a nice one of Washington Park in relation to downtown Portland. Washington Park itself has a map but not as useful.

From Where: Start out in downtown Portland where you catch the train.

How Long: The hike itself takes about 1-1.5 hours from the Washington Park Station to the Japanese Gardens. Another 45 minutes brings you into downtown Portland.

Ease: Trails can be a little muddy but it’s worth the dirt. It’s mostly downhill – take the Wildwood Trail.

Worth Doing: Yes, definitely!

A spur of the moment adventure…

On President’s Day weekend in February, Raja and I snatched up a hotel and flight deal to visit Urban Planner’s Mecca: Portland, Oregon. Known as the most environmentally friendly city in the United States, Portland implements some of the most progressive transportation infrastructure planners only dream about. Like the on street bicycle parking we saw scattered throughout the city.

Oh did we enjoy the trip – light rail, street cars, a walking tour of downtown, an evening at the Portland International Film Festival and terrific restaurants with local food. But most related to this blog, we took transit to visit green and misty Washington Park high up above the Willamette River. The Park is huge – over 400 acres of different shades of green located only minutes (by transit) from downtown Portland. It was a perfect rendevous with nature.

The best way to reach is by the MAX red or blue line. The train winds around the hills of Portland, climbing through residential neighborhoods before zooming into the rock. When you get off the train at Washington Park station, you’ll be amazed. If you’re interested in rocks, you could spend a good 15-20 minutes here learning about geology by looking at the rock core and signs displayed on the tunnel walls. But once you get out, blink a couple times, you’ll fall in love with the forest around you that awaits to be explored.

Well, once you get past the Oregon Zoo, that is, which was teaming with families and children when we stepped out of the station into the zoo’s parking lot. But we were looking for a place of quiet reflection, where we could wander and get a sense of the immenseness of our surroundings. Luckily for us, Portland city planners had planned ahead for our lack of planning. We found an amazing sign right in front of our noses that described the 4 T’s – Tram, Trolley, Train, Trail. While in the end we didn’t end up taking the trail they described (the tram was closed that day) we got some great advice about the Wildwood Trail which took us through the trees to the Japanese Garden.

The Wildwood Trail winds around ravines with tiny streams, always making you wonder what is around the bend. At one point we passed through a grove of extremely tall trees. Everywhere there were ferns and the ever lush green of the forest floor (I think some of this was invasive vines but at the time it just contributed to the feeling of wonder and awe).

We emerged farther downhill at the Japanese Gardens where we stopped for a brief rest before finishing our journey in urban Portland. Happy yet hungry from all our hiking, we waved goodbye to the oasis of nature and allowed our selves to be captured up once again by the flow of traffic, buildings, and other Valentine couples traversing the streets.


2 responses to “A Hiker’s Delight – Trails and Transit in Portland, Oregon

  1. Hi Becky,<br/>I briefly lived in Portland several years ago and relied on public transportation so this was quite interesting to me. I was on the TTGS trip to Lebannon Hills last fall and enjoyed it very much. I plan on attending more TTGS trips in the future.<br/>Rich P.


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