Photos from a gorgeous hike in the Columbia River Gorge at Rowena Crest – from the top, we could see Mt. Hood on one side and Mt. Adams on the other!Pin It
Each year around this time, we pick a sunny weekend day to hike Portland’s 4T Trail:
This year, we started by parking downtown and catching MAX (that’s the “Train” – the 1st “T”) to the Oregon Zoo station. From there, we walked a short distance to the start of the Marquam Nature Park trail (the 2nd “T”).
The trail runs mostly uphill for the first 1.3 miles, and gave us an opportunity to spot local wildlife – namely, banana slugs and surprisingly large snails:
The trail comes to the top at Council Crest, which on a sunny day provides an extraordinary view of downtown Portland and four mountains: Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and – only when it’s exceptionally clear (as it was on our day), Mt. Rainier:
We explored some of the interesting historical markers at the top of Council Crest, and then headed back onto the trail:
From this point, the trail continues for another 1.7 miles, almost exclusively downhill – sometimes rather steeply, and oftentimes very rocky. We saw trillium, sweet woodruff, Oregon grape, sword and licorice ferns, and many other native plants:
At the bottom of the trail, we rested at the Marquam Shelter, which has a lot of great information about the history and wildlife of the area, as well as a truly beautiful community-created mosaic:
From there, we hiked the final .6 miles up to Oregon Health Sciences University, to catch the tram. OHSU has a beautiful, sprawling campus, with a hodgepodge of buildings and some pretty garden areas, as well:
While we were able to enjoy the extraordinary view from the top of the tram (the 3rd “T”), unfortunately we weren’t able to ride it because it was closed for the holiday (which seems very shortsighted of the operator, given how many tourists were visiting and were vocally unhappy to find the tram not running!)
Undeterred, we used our iPhone’s handy map app and walked down to the south waterfront – which was accomplished in only 30 minutes, adding only an extra 1.5 (downhill) miles our so to our journey. Once there, we stopped at Lovejoy Bakery for a much-needed lunch break:
Refreshed, we caught the Portland streetcar (or trolley – the 4th “T”) back up to SW Portland, where we had begun:
Because it was my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, we ended our outing at St. Cupcake to celebrate:
Because we had such unseasonably warm and beautiful weather this year, we celebrated Easter by hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. I found a “secret” hiking location in this article which, because it’s on private property, is not well-known; as advertised, it was almost deserted, even on such a beautiful weekend, and we didn’t see a single other person during the entire hike (my kind of hike!) We were hiking in the foothills of Mt. Hood, above the town of Hood River, and the view from the top was unbelievable.
We saw many different kinds of wildflowers, already in full bloom (I wish I knew their names):
Amazingly, from the summit if you looked one direction, you could see Mt. Adams (look closely and you can even see another mountain in the background, maybe Mt. Rainier):
Then turn another direction, and you have this gorgeous view of Mt. Hood:
I love how all of the farmland is spread out at the foot of Mt. Hood – most of these acres are planted in pear, cherry, and apple orchards, in a month or so, the blooms will be gorgeous!
We’re walking down off of the bluffs here (if you look closely, you can see us – the tiny dots – near the top of the hill – this gives you some idea of the scale of the panorama!) This would be the perfect location to re-film the opening credits from Sound of Music:
After our hike, we stopped for a much-deserved ice cream cone at a funky little house on Oak Street in Hood River:
One of our ongoing family activities is “urban hikes” – a chance to get out and about, and introduce the girls to all of the different neighborhoods in Portland. There are so many cool places that even I’ve never seen, and I’ve lived here most of my life! Each different part of the city has a different feel, and it’s fun to talk about what it must be like to live there, how it’s different (and the same) from where we live, and to explore the shops, parks, and foodstuffs (we’re particularly always on the lookout for cupcake shops!)
Last weekend, we chose NE Alberta Street – known in Portland as a hip, kinda edgy, up-and-coming neighborhood with a lot of young people. We found Green Bean Books, an awesome independent bookstore tucked away in a tiny little house that specializes mainly in children’s books. We also found a crafting mecca, in the form of Collage, Modern Domestic, Bolt, and Close Knit – I’d died and gone to fabric and yarn heaven! We passed up Salt & Straw
(and the long line, even on a chilly day in March) to visit Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery – an interesting combination of a (liquor) bar and a (pie) bar owned by someone we went to law school with (a much better career choice than becoming a lawyer, I’d say!) The pie was AMAZING – of course, we only sampled the chocolate cream (my entire family being chocoholics), but the many other varieties looked incredible, too.
We rounded out the day by getting my oldest daughter’s ears pierced (well really, just one ear – she got them pierced for her 12th birthday, and one had closed up, so we rectified that) and window shopping up and down Alberta between 12th and 26th. The weather cooperated – just barely – but it was too cold for a longer walk to one of the nearby parks. There were several restaurants along the way – all pretty much hole-in-the-wall establishments – that I’d love to come back and try another day.
We added another seven miles to our summer “hike-o-meter” (we’re keeping track of our hiking miles this summer, trying to reach our goal of a total of 50 miles!) with our hikes at Smith Rock and Sparks Lake during our visit to Central Oregon last week:
For Mother’s Day, our family did the 4-T hike in downtown Portland – trail, tram, trolley, and train. You start out at the Oregon Zoo and hike the Marquam Trail to Council Crest – beautiful views and a lovely (albeit sometimes steep) hike through the woods.
Next, you reach Oregon Health Sciences University and take the tram down to the South Waterfront along the Willamette River. From there, you catch the streetcar trolley up to SW Portland and hop off at any of the stops (we got off around 11th Avenue, near the Multnomah County Library and, not so coincidentally, St. Cupcake!)
Finally, you take the MAX train headed west, through a 3-mile tunnel and to the underground Oregon Zoo station, which is the deepest underground station in North America.
We loved trying all of the modes of transportation, the girls were sufficiently motivated with the promise of a stop at St. Cupcake, and we got in about four miles of hiking during the 3-4 hour duration.
I would highly recommend this hike to anyone who lives – or visits – the Portland area. And to top it all off, it was a beautiful day, in the mid-80s with sun and blue skies!