Randy May Family in Hillsboro Oregon

May 20, 2008

Council Crest

Filed under: Hiking,Scenic Trips — rmay4 @ 12:50 am
Tags: ,


Name another U.S. city where you can sit sipping a latte downtown and three minutes later be walking through old-growth forest on your way to a five-mountain view.

Can’t, huh?

So now you know why showing off Portland to out-of-towners is a slam dunk.

Here’s the plan for your summer visitors. Take ’em toStarbucks at heart-of-Portland Pioneer Courthouse Square. Fuel up with a muffm and a mocha grande. Then take a quick drive up Southwest Broadway to Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard, swing onto Southwest Sam Jackson Park Road and take the first right past the Carnival restaurant to Marquam Nature Park’s base camp one (OK, it’s a parking lot).

Here you’ll find an open-air nature center and, a few yards away, a short paved road that leads uphill to the trailhead. From here, it’s a gradual-to-moderate climb – all dirt trail – to Council Crest, the Rose City‘s highest point at 1,070 feet.

Walk one minute on this trail and the sounds of traffic vanish, replaced by occasional bird songs in an otherwise sylvan-silent world of wooded hillsides and deep, fern-filled canyons sprouting ancient fir and alder, Western hemlock and bigleaf maple. June is a great time to take this hike: New growth is everywhere, and you find yourself surrounded by leaves and fronds and needles in surreal Day-Glo green.

En route are small streams to cross; leaf-filtered decks and picture windows of high-end hillside homes to peek at; and, near the summit, a series of woodsy switch-backs that ultimately deposit you at the top, where the oh-wow-there’s- nothing-like-this-in-Wichita views are eye-popping.

Pick a blue-sky day for your walk, and you get to gawk at five mountains: majestic Hood, sheared St. Helens, distant Rainier, Adams and Jefferson. All are identified by brass plaques within the brick-walled viewing circle. Stand in the center, recite the names of the peaks, and see how funny your voice sounds (don’t ask me).

To the east are Rocky Butte and Mount Tabor, to the west sprawling Beaverton with the gray-green spine of the Coast Range beyond. Magnificent. Just hope your company isn’t inspired enough to move here.

Stuff a day pack with lunch, maybe a book, and hang out at the top for an hour. If it’s sunny, lay out lizard-like on Council Crest’s wide, grassy crown before slipping back into the forest and heading down.

  • ABILITY: Probably intermediate. The overall altitude gain is about 900 feet; the effort required is moderate, though there are plenty of rest stops.
  • DISTANCE: About 1.8 miles to the top.
  • FOOTWEAR: Running/tennis shoes, light day-hike boots. No flip-flops (though I’ve seen people wearing them on this trail) or loafers.
  • TIME: Figure 35 to 50 minutes each way.
  • SIGHTS: Deep woods, ravines, ferns and flowers, 100-mile vistas.
  • MOOD BREAKERS: The route is briefly disrupted by Southwest Sherwood Drive, Southwest Fairmont Boulevard and Southwest Greenway Avenue, all of which you need to cross to pick up the well-marked trail.
  • WIMP OPTION: You can leave a car atop Council Crest if you don’t want to walk back.
  • PROVISIONS: Water fountains at bottom and top. Fill a day pack with crusty sourdough, cheese, a bottle of mineral water and three Milky Way Lites.
  • INFORMATION: There’s a large map of the 40-Mile Loop trail system, of which this hike is but one lovely link, along with flora/fauna facts and photos at the nature center adjacent to the parking lot.
  • THE SUMMIT IN PREVIOUS LIVES: A city park today, Council Crest was a pre-Lewis and Clark meeting place for Native American tribal councils and an amusement park from the decade preceding World War I through the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929.





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