Sunday, September 2, 2012

Awesome Urban Hike

One of the things we love most about Portland is the easy access to trails all over the city. A couple of years ago we discovered these maps that detail walking and biking trails in each section of the city.

We needed a break from intense research on fifth wheel trailers and Hans found this hike description that seemed to meet our ideal urban hike: somewhat strenuous, 5 - 8 miles long, a combination of beautiful neighborhoods, trails through forest or other natural area, and views.

This particular hike starts out in downtown Portland. One of the challenges with city hiking can be parking, and that has become even more challenging now that we have the big truck! We don't want to take the truck into a parking garage as it is fairly tall (and long) and much of the downtown area street parking has time limits of half an hour to two hours. We managed to find a stretch of NW 24th Avenue (near Irving) that had no parking limitations and was free.

We set out going up, up, up through a beautiful old neighborhood (early 1900's) including steep staircases.

The first set of stairs through lush gardens (you can  only see half the stairs in this pic)
A 1926 mansion with a view of the city below
After about a mile of gorgeous homes, gardens and views we dropped into a wooded trail in Forest Park, Portland's enormous forested park in the heart of the city.

Steep, forested canyons dropping below Cornell Rd., seen from the trail.
A mile or so of lush forested trail later, we came to the Audubon Sanctuary. Our timing was perfect, they had just brought out all of their "educational birds of prey" from the Wildlife Care Center.

Beautiful birds of prey at the Audubon Sanctuary
After visiting the Sanctuary's interpretive center (and getting a piece of cake in honor of National Vulture Day!) we continued on to the Collins Sanctuary Nature Trail. 

More amazingly lush forest...

The trail continued up, up, up to Skyline Drive, into another interesting neighborhood, with amazing views (of Mt. St. Helens on a clear day) and more stairs. This was the half way point, where we turned around and made our way back the way we came but with a couple of detours from the previous route that kept it interesting. As we neared our starting point we found different sets of stairs to take:

Another great thing about this hike, we parked near NW 23rd Avenue which is a vibrant shopping/dining district with a variety of options for lunch.

We highly recommend this particular hike! The description was accurate and it was exactly what we were looking for on this particular day: It was quite strenuous, with lots of up hill hiking and stairs,
gorgeous neighborhoods, excellent views, serene and lush forests, and not too many people even though it was a Saturday.

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