If you’re visiting the Portland, Oregon area and want to get some outstanding views of many Cascade volcanoes, I suggest walking on the forested Marquam Trail with a stop at Council Crest Park.
Start at the Marquam Park Shelter located off Sam Jackson Park Road
Alternative Location: Start at Council Crest Park
Hike Length: About 3.9 miles round trip through forested urban canyons
Notable Views: On clear days, you can view Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Jefferson. You can even catch a glimpse of Mt. Rainier behind Mt. St. Helens.
Online PDF Map Available
On a recent afternoon mini-adventure, I went with my 3 year old son, husband, and dog to see the volcanoes from Council Crest Park. This park is located off Council Crest drive and is one of the highest elevations in Portland at nearly 1100 feet. The park has the added bonus of having an off-leash dog area.
When we arrived, the park was very windy so I suggest dressing in layers. Although it can be calm on the valley floor, the wind often howls up on Council Crest. We chose to start our hike at Council Crest Park rather than at the Marquam Park Shelter because the hike would have been too long for our 3 year old.
By starting at Council Crest Park, you can experience magnificent vistas of Cascade volcanoes in Oregon and Washington before you are too tired. I highly suggest making this trip on a clear day to maximize your viewing potential. Winter and early spring are particularly good times to visit Council Crest Park and hike the Marquam trail because the volcanoes are snow blanketed and stand in sharp relief against a blue sky.
Take your binoculars and a camera. Portland residents will also be able to pick out famous landmarks from this high point such as the Fremont Bridge.
Follow the signs at the park to locate Marquam Trail. This hike will descend through beautiful urban forested hills and connects up with other urban trails that you can follow. Several map boxes are located on the route. You will cross several Portland streets so watch your children and keep your dogs leashed.
If you prefer, you can start out on the Marquam Trail and join up with the Wildwood Trail, which will eventually take you to Washington Park. Check your distances before beginning your hike and be sure to bring adequate water.
We walked about a mile at our child’s pace before turning around and heading back up to Council Crest Park. It is a terrific urban hike for everyone because it is close-in to downtown Portland, has incredible views of many volcanoes, and you can make the walk as short or as long as you want. Enjoy Portland from this fabulous urban getaway!