Willamette Park to Council Crest Loop Hike

July 25, 2009

DSC_0398ResizeIn an effort to beat the heatwave starting this weekend, I got up early Saturday morning and walked an 8-mile loop hike from Willamette Park in John’s Landing (elevation about 20 feet) to Council Crest (the highest point in the city limits of Portland at about 1100 feet). Here are some photos.

I started at 7am and was surprised at how early it started to get warm in the direct sunlight. Weather forecasters predict it will be 95 to 102 degrees in Portland for at least a week. The average high temperature this time of year is 80. (I strongly prefer the lower figure.)

This hike starts along the river at Willamette Park, a popular spot with boaters and paddlers, where I saw a flock of Canadian geese grazing in the dew-covered grass. The route soon exits the park and crosses Macadam Avenue, quickly reaching the first of several long, steep staircases that cut through terraced backyards going up the hill.

The route changes back and forth from street to trail several times. It crosses under Terwilliger Boulevard and Interstate 5 before climbing up to Wilson High School in the beautiful Hillsdale neighborhood.

Continuing up the hill you can see nice vistas of downtown office buildings and Ross Island. (It was very hazy and humid today, so clear photos were difficult to get.) There is an amazing home called the Keller House that has a stellar view of the city and a cliff-side swimming pool. The home was built by a Portland philanthropist named Ira Keller.

This route visits the second peak known as Council Crest, which is not the same as the peak about a mile away with the famous park and the great views. I had considered going all the way around Fairmount Boulevard to that side of the neighborhood, but once I reached the top of the hill I decided to save that 2-mile extension for another day when the sky is clear.

Highlights of the trip back down the hill include gravity, more dramatic staircases and a trail through George Himes Park, traveling back under I-5 and returning to the river. Fulton Pub is a nice place to recharge with a burger and a fine handcrafted ale, if one is so inclined.

Here’s another link to the photos.

If you live in Portland or plan to visit, be sure to check out this online book (scroll down for free maps of 50 hikes) and this indispensable volume for hill walks and urban trails in every part of the city.


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