A Portland Sullivan Hike With My Daughter
Wednesday 9 March 2016 — Category: Outings
Having lived in Oregon for ten years now, I can testify that it is a hiker’s paradise. One of the best ways to discover all of the hiking nooks and crannies the state has to offer is through the excellent series of guidebooks by Oregon’s “hiker laureate,” William Sullivan, which all together feature more than 1,000 hikes in every part of this ecologically- and geologically-diverse state!
With my camera in one hand and a Sullivan book in the other, I have gone on photo outings all over Oregon. But last year I started discovering a different type of trail. Turning my back on the wilderness, I spent 2015 making 24 photo outings to the urban jungle of Oregon’s largest city, Portland. Bill covers about a dozen Portland-area hikes in his 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington guidebook.
For an August 2015 urban outing with my oldest daughter, we were inspired by Hike #7 from this book: Aerial Tram & Council Crest. This route is also known as the 4T Trail — trail, tram, trolley and train — and it even has its own Web site! Who whudda thunk?
We experienced our first of the 4Ts at the very beginning of the outing. We both parked at the huge and free Sunset Transit Center parking lot. After buying two virtual all-day passes with the TriMet Tickets iOS app, we took a MAX train east through the Robertson Tunnel to the next stop at the Washington Park station. With a depth of 260 feet (79 meters) below Portland’s West Hills, the city’s only completely-underground subway station is the deepest in the country, and the fifth-deepest in the world. Impressive!
From there, a 25-second, 26-story elevator ride brought us to ground level, surrounded by the Portland zoo, the children’s museum, and the World Forestry Center complexes. After a 0.4-mile walk past the Forestry Center and across U.S. Route 26, we followed a forest trail (the second of the 4Ts) for another mile, gaining about 350 feet in elevation, until we reached Council Crest Park.
Seeing that my body mass is somewhat on the porky side, it wasn’t surprising that I was very hot and sweating like a pig by the time we reached the top. After a decent rest we deviated from Sullivan’s route by walking a bit over a mile southeast along Council Crest Drive to Sentinel Hill, where the 625-foot Stonehenge Radio Tower is located. Not only is this tower visible from all over the Portland metro area, but you can actually stand underneath it as well.
I was so captivated by this towering tower that we stayed there quite a while as I photographed it from numerous angles. Out of the 32 pictures I took there, 18 were good enough to deserve their own separate album — Portland Radio Tower 2015.
Once I was finished, we walked along a few neighborhood blocks until we came to a forest trail (still the second of the 4Ts) which took us through part of Marquam Nature Park to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus on Marquam Hill below.
After finding the entrance to the VA Medical Center, we wandered through some hallways until we came to the 660-foot VA Skybridge — the longest suspended pedestrian skybridge in North America. On the other side, we entered the OHSU Hospital on its ninth floor.
Roaming through some more long hallways, we eventually made our way into the Kohler Pavilion annex, where we found our third of the 4Ts — the upper terminal of the Portland Aerial Tram. The ride down is free, so we climbed aboard the next 12-ton cabin for the three-minute ride 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) to the lower terminal in Portland’s South Waterfront district — loosing 500 feet of elevation in the process.
At this point we totally abandoned Sullivan’s agenda, so that we missed out on the fourth of the 4Ts. He suggested taking the Portland Streetcar trolley into downtown Portland, but we much preferred to walk the two miles instead.
After making our way along the Willamette River until we reached the southern end of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, we headed west onto the Portland State University campus, where we stopped for lunch at Rogue Hall — owned by Oregon brewer Rogue Ales — located on the bottom floor of the Vue Apartments residential tower.
I tried their Kobe Blue Balls — which the menu describes as “three Snake River Farms Kobe beef meatballs stuffed with Rogue Creamery Oregon blue cheese ” — with a side of fries and a glass of Rogue Brewery’s award-winning Hazelnut Brown Ale. I didn’t find much blue cheese inside the balls, but us you can see there was a generous amount sprinkled around them on the plate — a truly scrumptious dish!
After lunch we walked along the South Park Blocks, making our our way north to Pioneer Courthouse Square, where we caught a MAX train back to our vehicles at the Sunset Transit Center, about six hours after our early-morning start. I didn’t take very many pictures on this walk, except at the radio tower, because I had already been along most of this route on previous outings. I added nine of the best images to the Portland Downtown Summer 2015 album.
All in all we walked about 7⅓ miles, not counting the one-kilometer aerial tram ride. I’ve added our complete route to my Portland Outings Google Earth Map. Step by step, we had a wonderful time together, father and daughter, exploring Portland’s mountains, forests, waterfront, public transportation, and urban jungle. Thanks, Mr. Sullivan, for the idea!