A Beautiful Day for the Four T’s Hike

September 13, 2008

Saturday was a beautiful day for a walk in Portland, so I decided to do the Four T’s hike, so named because it incorporates a trail, tram, trolley and train all in one trip.

The four-mile hike begins at the Oregon Zoo, which can be reached by car or MAX train, according to your desire and schedule. Normally I like to park at the Zoo, but today I opted to ride the train and leave my car at the Beaverton Town Square parking lot near the Beaverton Transit Center. It was a good decision because the Zoo lots were overflowing with visitors and they were running shuttle buses from the next exit on Highway 26.

To begin the hike, walk downhill from the Zoo toward 26 and cross the bridge over the highway. Turn left on the freeway on-ramp toward Portland and walk on the right side. The trailhead for the Marquam Trail is about halfway down the on-ramp on the right. The trail immediately begins an uphill climb toward Council Crest, the highest point in the city of Portland.

Follow the trail until it reaches a short staircase at SW Patton Road. Turn right on Patton and take a quick left at the stop sign at Talbot, heading uphill. Follow this road to the entrance to Council Crest Park, taking the paved path toward the top. This path is the rail bed for a former streetcar line that used to travel to the top of the park.


Enjoy the views of the city and several Cascade mountain peaks visible on clear days. (Sadly, I was so out of breath when I reached the top, I did not get any decent shots from Council Crest.)

The Marquam Trail continues down the other side of the park, beginning at a trailhead next to the off-leash dog area and the view of Mt. Hood in the distance. Following the trail downhill leads to SW Fairmount and a nice walk among many unique homes built into the steep hillsides and canyon walls of the West Hills.

A left turn on SW Marquam Hill leads to Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland aerial tram, which takes riders from OHSU to the South Waterfront neighborhood.

Today was my first opportunity to ride the tram and it was a lot of fun. The views were pretty amazing. It doesn’t run on Sundays, I believe.


There was a good deal of controversy surrounding the design, cost and construction of the tram before it was built. I quickly noticed that, despite city leaders promises to homeowners below the tram route that their privacy would be protected, any passenger over three feet tall could easily see every detail of the homes and yards in the tram’s path.

At the bottom of the tram, take the Portland Streetcar (aka the “trolley”) toward the city center past Portland State University and the Park Blocks.

Depart the streetcar at the Multnomah County Library and walk one block north to Morrison and catch the Max train back to the Zoo (or your other starting point).

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

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8 Responses to “A Beautiful Day for the Four T’s Hike”

  1. Becky Says:

    sounds like great fun – except the part about being out of breath at Council Crest.

    I felt inspired to give it a try.
    thanks for sharing.
    Becky

  2. jenny Says:

    Sweet hike! You are making me miss Portland. Did my blog inspire you to pick this up again? Take care.

  3. Susan Says:

    Jayson – it feels like we are on opposite ends of the world. We were swimming in the Pacific today – it was unbelievably hot. Monday is a national holiday for Salvadoran independence – but we’ll stay close to home due to the parades and such. There should be some good fireworks, though. Come see us! Love, Susan

  4. Kristine Says:

    Love it! The minute I have a spare day, I want to do this! I’m doing the Race for the Cure with my work next week, so maybe the week after that…and maybe I won’t be too out of breath! If you ever want to walk around downtown at lunch or after work, email me!!

  5. Dana Says:

    I’d love to take it with you. How about next time we’re in Portland??

  6. Jeff Says:

    You are making us “east coasters” a bit jealous. All I can offer is 94 degrees and high humidity in the lovely town of Charleston, SC. I didn’t ride a tram or a streetcar, and I didn’t climb a mountain this weekend, but I did get outside to cut the grass and ride the bike around the neighborhood. I was out of breath as well so I guess we’ve had pretty similar experiences. Keep up the fun! – Jeff

  7. John Says:

    Looks like fun. I didn’t respond earlier because we have been running hither and yon for Gustav and Ike. I’ll send you some photos of our hike in Colorado this summer. – Yer Bro’ John

  8. Wendy Says:

    My son and I did the hike today and loved it. Some things to add. The Marquam Shelter at the bottom of the trail is lovely with history of the neighborhood and information about the flora and fauna. The hike on the Marquam trail is very peaceful and it feels like you are totally in the woods and out of the city.

    On Tuesdays there’s a farmers’ market at the OHSU hospital until 3:30 p.m. where you can get food and drink.

    To take the tram, go into the hospital and follow the signs. You go through a small art gallery and then there is a seating area with a incredible view.

    Take the tram and notice the wooden Gothic church below. I thought the only Gothic style church in Portland was the Old Church but now I know there are two.

    Take the street car to the Max, but if it is happy hour, get sidelined at the Governor Hotel, two blocks to the north. Look at the transformers on the outside top of the building. It’s an historic. Try the $2.95 hamburger, pretty good.

    Wander out to the bus mall and get home the best way you can.


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