- Rating: Easy
- Activity: Hike
- Distance: 3.7 miles out and back
Five minutes from downtown, this popular West Hills trek is a lunchtime special for antsy hikers in need of a quick wilderness fix. The trail doesn’t skimp on inspiring sight lines, either. Winding past bigleaf maples, mossy firs, and bowed cedar trees that cling to steep ravines, it ascends out of Marquam Nature Park to the city’s loftiest perch, the 1,040-foot summit of Council Crest, where an amusement park stood during the early 1900s. There, inside a large stone-rimmed circle on the hill’s crown, brass plaques mark the locations of all five Cascade Range peaks that loom in the Oregon and Washington distance: Mounts Hood, St. Helens, Adams, Jefferson, and Rainier. If the view doesn’t get you talking, try moving to the brass plate in the center of the circle and letting out a yell. When your voice whips back at you, you’re bound to want to tell somebody about the experience. Our suggested phrase for this experiment in echolocation: “Beat that, Seattle!”
ROUTE: Marquam Nature Park connects to a network of hikes, including the city’s Forty-Mile Loop. To reach Council Crest, take the Marquam Trail, which extends from an old blacktop road directly above the trailhead’s A-frame shelter. After approximately a mile, the trail switchbacks over SW Sherwood Drive before curving around to a set of wooden steps leading past SW Fairmount Boulevard. After one last road crossing, the path rises again through a stand of vine maples before spilling onto the broad green lawns ringing the top of Council Crest.
POST-HIKE WATERING HOLE: Corbett Fish House. This cheery Corbett neighborhood haunt plates up Midwest specialties like toasty Lake Perch fish-and-chips and fresh walleye. The taps dispense a satisfying selection of potent local brews, including Deschutes Mirror Pond and Walking Man IPA. Inside tip: stop by on a Tuesday or Saturday, when you can sample their stellar Crab Pepper Cheese Soup. (503-246-4434; 5901 SW Corbett Ave; corbettfishhouse.com)
TRAILHEAD DIRECTIONS Follow SW Broadway over I-405 and turn right onto SW Sixth Avenue. Follow the blue “H” (for hospital) signs. Drive half a mile and look for the park entrance on your right. No fees or permits required.