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Maple-Wildwood Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Vine maple thicket, Wildwood Trail (bobcat)
Footbridge on the Maple Trail (bobcat)
6 1/4 mile marker, Leif Erikson Drive (bobcat)
Alders in winter, Wildwood Trail (bobcat)
Big Douglas-fir near Munger Creek, Wildwood Trail (bobcat)
The loop using the Maple and Wildwood Trails (Detour shown in orange) (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation
  • Start point: Lower Salzman Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Munger Creek Big Trees
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1080 feet
  • High Point: 900 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: For older kids
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

It is rare to find seclusion in Forest Park, but these leafy slopes are wonderful escape for those who cannot spare the drive time to get out of town on a busy day. The loop described here takes in a good portion of the central part of the park and some of its biggest trees, the gnarly old Douglas-firs in the upper reaches of Munger Creek, a tributary of Rocking Chair Creek. You will use the Wildwood Trail and also hike the whole of the Maple Trail, Forest Park’s longest foot trail – 3 ½ miles - after the Wildwood.

It’s worth walking back from the gate on Salzman Road, if you manage to park close to it, to get the only expansive view of the day: across the area of Doane Lake and the Doane Point railroad bridge to Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams on the skyline.

Then hike up Salzman Road under a leafy canopy of big-leaf maple, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and western red-cedar. The maple leaves should be thick on the ground from mid-fall. Reach the Salzman Road-Maple Trail Junction, and descend off the road to your right. Traverse above a gully and pass a large Douglas-fir before crossing a footbridge and rising up and around a hillside. Note the old pipe posts that were jammed in the ground to stabilize the trail. Hike in and out of gullies in an understory of vine maple, thimbleberry, sword fern, and Oregon grape. Pass the junction with the Quarry Trail and make a level traverse. The trail drops to cross a wide gully before rising to the Leif Erikson Drive-Maple Trail Junction.

Go left on Leif Erikson and pass the 6 ¼ milepost. Reach the Leif Erikson Drive-Salzman Road Junction after passing through a rusty gate above a wide landing with a picnic table. Make an immediate and sharp right here and hike half a mile up the hill on Salzman Road. Reach the Wildwood Trail-Salzman Road Junction near the Wildwood’s halfway point (16 miles), and go left on the foot trail (There’s one of those helpful Forest Park map signs here), and walk up a slope; then make a level traverse.

Hike around the nose of a ridge through a sword fern carpet and pass the junction with the Cleator Trail. Drop gradually now, passing under powerlines and then in and out of three alder-shaded gullies. Descend a little more noticeably into a deep gully and cross a footbridge over Salzman Creek at the 14 ½ mile marker on the Wildwood before traversing up. Pass the junction with the Koenig Trail on a ridge crest and keep ascending. Wind through a large grove of red alder, cross a seasonal stream, and traverse in and out of gullies. Notice some larger Douglas-firs in the forest as you cross Firelane 3 and switchback down to the junction, in a vine maple thicket, with a short tie trail that leads to the Maple Trail. You could cut your hike short by going down this cutoff, but then you would miss the Munger Creek Big Trees, so continue along the Maple Trail into the first of two gullies that feed Munger Creek. Before crossing the first stream, you’ll pass one of the largest and oldest Douglas-firs in the park, about six feet in diameter. Hike up and enter the second gulch and pass at least two more huge Douglas-firs heading out of that gully. Reach the Wildwood-Maple Trail Junction at another large Douglas-fir, and go left.

The Maple Trail heads down the slope past a tall, straight grand fir in a thick carpet of Oregon grape. Switchback down twice to cross Munger Creek below the old growth gullies and make two switchbacks up. Pass the junction with the Maple Tie Trail and make a level traverse. Reach the Leif Erikson Drive-Maple Trail-Firelane 3 Junction, and resume the Maple Trail past some large logs on the other side of Leif Erikson Drive.

  • Note that a sign here warns of a partial closure of the Maple Trail between the Koenig Trail and Firelane 4. This is because a footbridge is out over the steep gully of Salzman Creek. Users have lately ignored the sign and passage is not difficult although, as of December 2014, the bridge had not been fixed. If you take the recommended detour, when you reach the Koenig Trail, head up to Leif Erikson Drive, go right to Firelane 4, and then descend the latter to the Maple Trail.


Switchback down and make a traverse to a footbridge over a creek. Reach the junction with the Koenig Trail (To make the closure detour, follow the directions above). Continue on the Maple Trail, descending to cross Salzman Creek, and then traversing up the and then leveling to hike a gentle slope through vine maple/hazel thickets. Cross under the powerlines in a dense thimbleberry thicket and reach Firelane 4 (This is where you would rejoin the Maple Trail if the detour is still in effect). If you don't want to finish the Maple Trail, you can take a shortcut directly down Firelane 4 to the trailhead from here.

Continuing on the Maple Trail, pass above a bowl shaded by moss and licorice fern-draped maple and alders before dropping to the Salzman Road-Maple Trail Junction. Go right here to return to your car.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Share Salzman Road and Leif Erikson Drive with mountain bikers

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

Some of the guidebooks below offer partial descriptions of the loop:

  • Hiking & Running Guide to Forest Park by Friends of Forest Park (full loop)
  • One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park by Marcy Cottrell Houle
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Portland Forest Hikes by James D. Thayer
  • Best Hikes Near Portland by Fred Barstad
  • 100 Oregon Hiking Trails by Don & Roberta Lowe
  • Best Hikes With Dogs: Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop

More Links


Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.