Categories
Hiking

Forest Park – Stone House and Pittock Mansion – 01/01/2022

Weather permitting we like to get our January hike in on New Years Day. A series of Winter storms had passed over the Willamette Valley starting Christmas night but while temperatures had remained cold the precipitation had ceased and the forecast for New Years Day was for another dry day with a potential for sunny skies. The only issue presented by the forecast were the temperatures which promised to be in the low 20’s for our morning start. We had our sights set on Forest Park in Portland as it didn’t require us driving over any mountain passes and allowed us to sleep in a bit since it is only an hours drive from Salem. This would be our fourth hike in the park but our first time starting from an upper trailhead in the Tualatin Mountains. One of our goals was to visit the stone ruins, sometimes referred to as the Witch’s Castle, along Balch Creek which was one of two options for Sullivan’s Balch Creek featured hike. We had chosen to do his longer option in 2020 (post) which we used to check that featured hike off our to-do list but we wanted to tie up the loose end.

We decided to begin our hike at the NW 53rd Trailhead in order to add some distance and to check out some of the trails that we had not hiked on in 2020. While the snow had left the valley floor at 800′ some still remained and the 21 degree temperature had frozen everything.
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From the trailhead we immediately turned right on the Keil Trail, one of the trails we had not been on before.
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The trail ended in under a quarter mile at the Dogwood Trail where we turned left.
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We followed this trail downhill for a little over half a mile to a junction with the Wildwood Trail.
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IMG_7710A bank of clouds was sitting directly over Portland but we could see the edge in the distance. We hopped that the clouds would either burn off or move along.

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We turned right on the Wildwood Trail. The next 0.6 miles to a junction with the Wild Cherry Trail was a section of trail that we had been on in 2020.
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We stayed straight on the Wildwood Trail ignoring all side trails for 2.5 miles to the stone ruins along Balch Creek.
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IMG_7732Junction with the Birch Trail.

IMG_7740A wren busy pecking at a log.

IMG_7746Junction with the Aspen Trail. As we descended we left most of the snow, and the icy conditions, behind.

IMG_7758Holman Lane Junction.

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IMG_7767Balch Creek and the Lower Macleay Trail (Currently closed due to construction.)

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IMG_7783Icicles over Balch Creek.

We continued beyond the Witch’s Castle another half a mile to the Macleay Park Trailhead crossing Balch Creek and climbing up a rather slick hill along the way.
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IMG_7809Going uphill before it got really slick.

IMG_7811Wilwood Trail at Macleay Park Trailhead.

We left the Wildwood Trail at the trailhead turning right past some picnic tables and taking a path along NW Cornell Road to the Portland Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.
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A network of trails loop around the sanctuary.
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We began our tour here by walking past the Wildlife Care Center where we think we witnessed an escape attempt.
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Aristophanes, a common raven and long time resident at the sanctuary, was being visited by another pair of ravens with questionable intent :).
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IMG_7817We took this raven to be the “lookout”.

Beyond the ravens the trail descended to Balch Creek where we took the short Creek Trail to a turnaround at a bench before returning to the Jay Trail.
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IMG_7831Bench at the end of the Creek Trail.

We left the Jay Trail by taking a right on the Woodpecker Trail keeping right at junctions to meet up with the other end of the Jay Trail which we then returned on making a 0.7 mile loop.
IMG_7833Pond along the Jay Trail,

IMG_7834Junction with the Woodpecker Trail.

IMG_7840Big Douglas fir.

IMG_7851I continue to struggle to get a clear photo of a varied thrush.

IMG_7853Jay Trail junction with the Wren Trail.

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IMG_7856Nearing the pond from the other side.

After completing this short loop we crossed NW Cornell Road and headed up the Al Miller Founders Trail.
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The Founders Trail climbed up into increasingly snowy forest before traversing around a hillside to a junction with the North and South Collins Trails in 0.6 miles.
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IMG_7871Stairs up to the trail junction.

The South Collins Trial offered a slightly shorter loop but we turned left on the North Collins Trail which climbed a little more before winding downhill and rejoining the South Collins Trail near NW Cornell Road.
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IMG_7880Baseball sized jelly fungus, the largest we’ve seen.

IMG_7881Descending to the South Collins Trail.

IMG_7883More ice formations.

This was a 1.5 mile “almost loop” which required a 500′ road walk to return to the Founders Trail and the Wildlife Sanctuary.
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We then made our way back to the Macleay Park Trailhead and the Wildwood Trail which we followed across NW Cornell Road.
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Due to tunnel construction the road was closed just beyond the trailhead so we didn’t have to worry about traffic as we crossed. On the other side of the road we continued on the Wildwood Trail but soon found ourselves facing the slickest section of trail we’d encountered yet. Luckily we had brought our Kathoola micro spikes which we put on in order to get down the little hill.
IMG_7892We planned on returning via the Upper Macleay Trail.

IMG_7893Heather descending the slick section with a trail runner behind that had attempted to get up the hill but was turning back.

The trail runner had come up the Cumberland Trail which she said had been fine but above that trail things got slick fast.
IMG_7904Cumberland Trail junction.

The Wildwood Trail turned uphill at a junction with the Macleay Trail which is where things started to get really interesting.
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Other than the one hill where we’d put on our spikes there had always been enough clear trail to find descent footing but now the trails were pretty much ice.
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We held off putting the spikes back on though until the three way junction with the Upper Macleay Trail. We watched another trail runner slip and slide as they carefully made their way downhill and decided it was time to put the spikes back on.
IMG_7909The trail runner in blue.

With the spikes on we were able to confidently walk uphill, marching past a number of folks struggling to come down. We saw a few falls but luckily we didn’t see anyone get injured which was a real possibility. Besides us we only came across 4 other hikers with some sort of traction devices for their shoes.
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IMG_7914Heather coming up behind me.

IMG_7916Arriving at the Pittock Mansion parking lot.

We had visited the mansion in 2018 (post) having come up from the other side on the Wildwood Trail and had hoped that this time we might get a view but alas the cloud cover had not moved on.
IMG_7919Pittock Mansion

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IMG_7926A line of blue sky beyond the cloud cover.

IMG_7930Portland from Pittock Mansion.

IMG_7932Snowy foothills in the sunlight beyond the Columbia River.

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Deprived of a mountain view we headed back to the Wildwood Trail where we put our microspikes back on and headed downhill.
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With the spikes on we had no issues reaching the junction with the Upper Macleay Trail where we turned left.
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The spikes stayed on until we had descended to Macleay Park and Heather re-donned hers again to descend to the Witch’s Castle.
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IMG_7947Entering the Macleay Park Trailhead.

IMG_7953One last look at the Witch’s Castle.

When we reached Holman Lane we turned left and headed uphill. We followed Holman Lane just over three quarters of a mile to NW 53 Dr. where we turned right walking a short distance along the road to the Birch Trailhead. Here we picked up the Birch Trail which descended a quarter mile back to the Wildwood Trail. Going back this way not only let us experience a new trail but it cut a half mile off the distance to the Wildwood/Birch Trail junction.
IMG_7956Holman Lane started out snow and ice free.

IMG_7960Back to the snow and ice higher up.

IMG_7964NW 53rd Drive

IMG_7965Birch Trailhead

IMG_7966The microspikes went back on before descending the Birch Trail and stayed on for the remainder of the hike.

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IMG_7969Sparrow foraging on the Birch Trail.

IMG_7971Back to the Wildwood Trail.

We turned left on the Wildwood Trail for 0.4 to the Wild Cherry Trail where we again turned uphill. This was another new section of trail for us and it was an additional three quarters of a mile shorter than returning via the Wildwood Trail.
IMG_7974Wild Cherry Trail junction.

20220101_141903Little snowman near the junction.

IMG_7979Is that a bit of blue in the sky finally?

IMG_7978Snowy mushrooms

The Wild Cherry Trail ended at the Dogwood Trail where we turned right for a short distance before reaching its junction with the Keil Trail.
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IMG_7983A break in the clouds provided some blue sky above the Keil/Dogwood Trail junction.

We turned left on the Keil Trail retracing our steps from the morning to the NW 53rd Trailhead.
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IMG_7988Woodpecker that wasn’t a bit concerned about my presence.

IMG_7993The Subaru waiting for us at the trailhead.

According to the GPS this was a 13 mile hike with around 2500′ of elevation gain.

Portland Audubon trails in orange.

Aside from not getting the views we’d hoped for this was a wonderful way to kick off the new year. There was good scenery, historical structures and a good deal of wildlife (even if most of it wouldn’t stay still long enough for photos). We hope everyone had a great holiday season and here is to a great 2022. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Forest Park – Stone House and Pittock Mansion

Categories
Hiking Oregon Portland Trip report Willamette Valley

Forest Park Loop (Leif Erikson, Wild Cherry, Wildwood and Nature Trails) – 10/24/2020

With Heather’s foot still a little sore from her fall at Abbott Butte we wanted to find a hike that wasn’t too strenuous for her to test it out on. An 8.8 mile loop in Portland’s Forest Park fit the bill, especially since there would be several shorter loop options available in case her foot didn’t respond well. The loop we had chosen is the longer of two options given by Sullivan for the Balch Creek hike in his “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” guidebook (hike #4 in the 4th & 5th editions). The shorter loop option involves Balch Creek itself while the longer 8.8 mile loop never comes near the creek. For this hike we parked at the end of NW Thurman St. at the gated Leif Erikson Drive.
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In August 2020 Portland Parks and Recreation began a pilot program of one-way loops in an attempt to reduced visitor interaction and possibly help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Parts of our loop were included in one of the one-way pilots.
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We followed the paved Leif Erikson Drive for .3 miles to the Wild Cherry Trail (near a set of outhouses).
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We turned up the dirt Wild Cherry Trail (following the one-way signs) and quickly encountered people coming down the wrong way (so much for the signs). The Wild Cherry Trail gained about 400′ as it climbed to a junction with the Wildwood Trail in .6 miles.
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IMG_7986Switchback along the Wild Cherry Trail.

We turned right onto the Wildwood Trail at the junction and remained on it when the Wild Cherry Trail continued uphill to the left a few yards later.
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This was our fourth hike involving the 30.2 mile Wildwood Trail having hiked portions of it on our Washington Park (post), Maple Trail (post), and Northern Forest Park (post) outings.
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After .6 miles on the Wildwood Trail we arrived at a 4-way junction with the Dogwood Trail, part of the 2.75 mile one-way loop.
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Heather’s foot was doing well so we continued on the Wildwood Trail. In another .6 miles we arrived at parking area along NW 53rd.
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IMG_8011This was the first slug we recall seeing of this color.

IMG_8014Interpretive sign at the NW 53rd parking area.

In another .3 miles we ignored the Alder Trail on the right (another option to shorten the loop) continuing on the Wildwood Trail.
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The next loop option came almost 2 miles from the Alder Trail when the Wildwood Trail crossed Firelane 1. There were some nice clumps of mushrooms along this stretch. There was also a damaged bridge near the middle of this section which there were several warnings posted for.
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IMG_8037The bridge damage was not an issue.

IMG_8038Another bunch of musrhooms.

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Approximately a half mile before reaching Firelane 1 we passed the Morak Trail on the left (a 100 yard connector to Firelane 1 that is not shown on all maps).
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IMG_8050Firelane 1 junction.

With Heather still going strong we stuck to the Wildwood Trail arriving at the Nature Trail in another half mile.
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We turned right and when the trail split a tenth of a mile later we stayed left (the right hand fork would have taken us to Firelane 1).
IMG_8056The fork, left was downhill right up.

The Nature Trail followed Rockingchair Creek downhill to Leif Erikson Drive in just over a quarter mile where we turned right back toward our car.
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It had been busy when we had started our hike with the parking already nearly full but things had picked up even more since then. Even with it being busy there were moments where no one else was present along the 3.5 miles back to NW Thurman Street.
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IMG_8078Firelane 1

IMG_8081Somewhere along Leif Erikson there was supposed to be a view of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood along the way but the clouds never burned off like the forecast had called for.

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IMG_8091The Alder Trail at Leif Erikson Dr.

IMG_8093An orange one-way marker along Leif Erikson Drive between the Dogwood and Wild Cherry Trail junctions.

For the most part people appeared to be doing a pretty good job of covering their faces and maintaining social distancing (at least better than following the one-way trail designations). It was another enjoyable hike in Forest Park and an encouraging outing for Heather’s foot. At some point we plan on returning to see Balch Creek and explore more of the park. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Forest Park 10/24/2020

Categories
Hiking Oregon Portland Willamette Valley

Maple Trail (Forest Park) and Tilikum Crossing – 12/14/2019

For our final outing of 2019 we combined a little hiking with a bit of Christmas Shopping by heading up to Portland for the day. Our plan was to do a pair of Sullivan’s featured hikes before visiting the Portland Saturday Market.

We started our morning at the 5,200 acre Forest Park for a 7.5 mile lollipop hike using the Maple and Wildwood Trails. Our hike started at the Lower Saltzman Road Trailhead

We were the second car at the small parking area where we set off past the green gate blocking further access to Saltzman Road.
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We followed the closed road for .4 miles to a junction where the Maple Trail crossed the road. Here we turned left onto that trail.
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We followed this trail for a mile and a half, ignoring side trails, as we climbed gradually to Leif Erikson Drive. It was a cloudy morning and the forest was damp but it wasn’t raining which made for a pleasant walk amid the trees.
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IMG_1975Bridge over a small stream.

IMG_1977Heading into a little bit of fog.

IMG_1981Too cloudy for any real views.

IMG_1983Leif Erikson Road.

We crossed the closed road and continued on the Maple Trail for another .4 miles to a fork where we veered right at a pointer for the Wildwood Trail.
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A short climb brought us to the Wildwood Trail where we turned right and headed up some wooden steps.
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This was our third time on the 30 mile long Wildwood Trail (11/18, 5/18) and we followed it for 3.2 miles through a variety of scenery.
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Along the way we crossed Saltzman Road.
IMG_2018Saltzman Road at the 2.5 mile mark of the 3.2 mile stretch.

Approximately .7 miles after crossing Saltzman Road we turned right onto signed Firelane 5.
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This windy track was rutted by bike tires as it made its way downhill to Leif Erikson Drive after about half a mile.
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IMG_2025Aproaching Leif Erikson Drive.

We turned right onto Leif Erikson for .2 miles to a curve with a grassy flat on the left with a sign for the Maple Trail.
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We followed the Maple Trail for 1.2 miles back to Saltzman Road where we turned left and hiked the .4 miles back to the trailhead. The forest along this section of the Maple Trail was nice and on a clearer day there may have been a few views but we settled for the trees and some passing geese.
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The trailhead was full when we got back so we quickly changed our shoes and opened up a spot for another trail user. We headed for downtown Portland for our next stop at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. We actually parked at a lot on the corner of 4th and Harvey Milk St. and walked 3+ blocks to the park.
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The Saturday Market was just a bit to the left but we went right heading for the Morrison Bridge and planning on hitting the market at the end of our loop.
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There were almost as many geese as people in this section of the park.
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We followed the Waterfront Park Trail along the Willamette River under the Morrison Bridge and toward the Hawthorne Bridge.
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IMG_2056Hawthorn Bridge

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After about three quarters of a mile we passed through the South Waterfront Park Garden.
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This was quickly followed by Poet’s Beach under the Marquam Bridge.
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After passing under the Marquam Bridge we had a good look at OMSI and the USS Blueback Submarine on the far side of the Willamette and the OHSU Aerial Tram on our side of the river on Marquam Hill.
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There was also an interesting piece of art near the Tilikum Crossing Bridge where we would be heading across the river.
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The bridge was opened in September 2015 and is restricted to transit, pedestrian, and cyclist use only.
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IMG_2083Marquam Bridge from Tilikum Crossing.

After crossing the river we turned left towards OMSI on the Eastbank Esplanade.
IMG_2085Tilikum Crossing from the esplanade.

We followed the Eastbank Esplanade for a total of 1.75 miles to the Steele Bridge. The scenery along this stretch was a bit more industrial with sections not too far from the Interstate, but there were still some interesting and pretty sights along the way.
IMG_2086Behind OMSI

IMG_2090More geese.

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IMG_2094Cormorants

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We recrossed the Willamette on the Steele Bridge arriving back at Waterfront Park near the Japanese American Historical Plaza and the Portland Saturday Market.
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We wound our way through the market visiting all the booths before returning to our car and heading home. We did manage to find a couple of Christmas gifts so it had not only been a fun day hiking but it had been productive as well. We walked about 5 miles between the loop around the Willamette and the market which was just about as much as our feet could handle for the day.

That’s it for us as far as hikes go for 2019, we hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (and Happy Trails too!)

Flickr: Maple Trail and Tilikum Crossing

Categories
Hiking Oregon Portland Trip report Willamette Valley

Forest Park – Wildwood Trail & Leif Erikson Drive Loop

Heather and I recently celebrated our 23rd anniversary with a morning hike in Portland’s Forest Park followed by dinner at Sisters Irish Bistro in Salem.

We started our hike at the Germantown Road Trailhead where the Wildwood Trail crosses the road.
Wildwood Trail at Germantown Road Trailhead

We chose this loop due to the presence of some low clouds. This section of trail didn’t offer the mountain views that some others do so we thought it was a good day for it. From the parking area we headed south on the Wildwood Trail which briefly climbed before leveling out on a hillside.
Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

We followed the Wildwood Trail for a little over four and a quarter miles through the foggy forest. Junctions were well marked along the way with maps located at several of them.
Forest Park from the Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail junction with the Waterline TrailWaterline Trail junction

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood TrailMap at the Springville Road junction.

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail junction with the Ridge TrailRidge Trail junction

Wildwood Trail

We turned off of the Wildwood Trail at Fire Lane 7A which we followed downhill less than a quarter mile to a pointer for Leif Erikson Drive.
Wildwood Trail junction with Fire Lane 7A

Fire Lane 7A

Tie trail to Leif Erikson Dr.

A short path led fairly steeply down to the closed road where we turned left.
Leif Erikson Drive

Leif Erikson Drive

After one and a quarter mile on the road we came to the remains of an old building on the left.
Remains of an old building along Leif Erikson Drive

Remains of an old building along Leif Erikson Drive

A little over three miles after turning onto Leif Erikson Drive we arrived at another small parking lot along Germantown Road.
Leif Erikson Drive Trailhead along Germantown Road

Signboard for Leif Erikson Drive at Germantown Road

From this trailhead we followed the Cannon Trail uphill for a third of a mile back to the Germantown Road Trailhead and the Wildwood Trail.
Cannon Trail

Cannon Trail

Our loop was approximately 8.4 miles long with about 500′ of total elevation gain. It had been a good day for this particular hike and although we saw quite a few other people it never felt overly crowded. Shorter (or longer) loops could be done using the numerous other trails in the area.

Dinner at Sisters Irish Bistro was a perfect way to end our anniversary celebration, the food was excellent and so was the relaxing atmosphere. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Forest Park