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Marquam Trail Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Leafy woods on the lower section of the Marquam Trail (bobcat)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Park (bobcat)
Mother and child statue, Council Crest (bobcat)
Split-rail switchbacks, Marquam Nature Park (bobcat)
Trillium (Trillium ovatum), Marquam Trail, Marquam Nature Park (bobcat)
The route of the Marquam Trail (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Wildwood TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Marquam Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Traverse
  • Distance: 10.6 miles or 5.3 miles as a one-way traverse hike
  • Elevation gain: 1865 feet
  • High Point: 1,045 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes, as a traverse
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes

Contents

Hike Description

The Marquam Trail is one of Portland's great trail assets, connecting the 31-mile Wildwood Trail with Terwilliger Boulevard and further trail/street explorations in Southwest Portland. While the hike is 10.6 miles as a return venture, frequent public transportation connecting the two trailheads (Trimet bus + MAX), makes this an excellent one-way option as well, especially for families. The excursion begins on the edge of the Hoyt Arboretum and then passes other major Washington Park attractions, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World Forestry Center, Oregon Zoo, and the Children's Museum. Then you'll cross Highway 26 and head up to Council Crest, at over 1,000 feet the highest point in Southwest Portland, from which you'll get far-ranging views on a clear day. The Marquam Trail descends from Council Crest to enter Marquam Nature Park and terminate at Terwilliger Boulevard.

The trail is named after Philip Marquam, who was a Multnomah County judge in the 1860s and later served in the Oregon State Legislature.

Depending on where you are staying in the Portland area, you can also make this a car shuttle, a car/bus/MAX trip, or simply use public transportation going and coming. The MAX Blue and Red Lines both stop at the Oregon Zoo; several buses run along Terwilliger Boulevard and pass the Marquam Trailhead; also, it's only a short distance from the Marquam Trailhead to Barbur Boulevard, where you'll find more frequent bus service.

The beginning of the Wildwood Trail is just across Knight Street from the parking area. Walk up past labeled trees keeping left then right into a Douglas-fir copse. Here, keep straight at a four-way junction and then left at a T-junction. The Marquam Trail heads down above the Vietnam Veterans Memorial past a large-leaved catalpa and a stand of sequoias. At a four-way junction, keep straight to continue above and behind the World Forestry Center. At a garbage receptacle, keep right and make four switchbacks down. You'll see the Children’s Museum to your left and then bear right at a junction to drop down into trees past a Marquam Trail sign. Make two switchbacks under a canopy of Oregon ash and big-leaf maple to reach Canyon Road. Walk to the left and cross the overpass on Highway 26. Then head left down the on-ramp, and pick up the Marquam Trail as it enters leafy woods: on this slope, the traffic noise from Highway 26 gradually diminishes as you continue along the trail.

The trail rises on a few steps in woods of cedar, maple, Douglas-fir, and cottonwood. Make two switchbacks, and then drop to cross a trickling watercourse in an understory of fringe-cup, sword fern, wood fern, maidenhair fern, vine maple and elderberry. Cross a footbridge in a dry gully, head up, drop, and traverse up to where the trail levels. Cross another footbridge and traverse up making two switchbacks. After taking more steps up, cross a gully, and then make nine short switchbacks before encountering more steps. Note the invasive understory species, such as holly, ivy and cherry-laurel, in these woods. The trail levels and reaches S.W. Patton Road. Head up, cross Humphrey Street, and then cross Patton at the Shell station to begin hiking up Talbot Road, where you'll see 4T Trail signs indicating the route. The road levels before you arrive at the junction with Fairmount Boulevard.

Here, go straight to take the paved trail up the wooded hillside into Council Crest Park. At a marked junction, go left up steps on the Marquam Trail in a maple, Douglas-fir, snowberry forest. Keep left at the next junction, and hike on a level trail through a thicket of ocean spray before rising to a junction. Proceed straight up to the off-leash area, and then make a right to the summit area of Council Crest. Near here is the mother and child fountain (stolen in the 1980s and recovered 10 years later). There are some views to the Tualatin Valley, Chehalem Hills, and also to downtown Portland and Vancouver, Washington. On a clear day, Mount Hood can be seen to the east and, far to the south, the snow-capped summit of Mount Jefferson. The three closest Washington stratovolcanoes, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams, can be discerned to the north.

After enjoying the views, drop down from the off-leash area to the Marquam Trail again, making three switchbacks before you cross Greenway Avenue. The trail makes a traverse along a hillside and crosses Fairmount Boulevard before making two switchbacks into a gully. The path rises slightly under Douglas-firs, cedars, hemlocks, and maples with an Oregon grape/sword fern understory. Then the path drops and switchbacks into another gully. Two switchbacks direct you down to a footbridge, after which rise again and cross Sherwood Drive.

The trail descends some steps and passes a memorial rock to Rusty and Dan Goldy. Make four switchbacks down a gully and reach a junction. Go right here, now in Marquam Nature Park, cross the gully, and make four switchbacks down on a trail bordered by split-rail fencing. After traversing along the slope, reach a junction, and keep right to continue the traverse. Rise to a footbridge, arrive at a junction, and go left down some steps to cross the creek in Marquam Gulch. At another junction, make a right up a wide trail which then narrows to make nine switchbacks to SW Marquam Hill Road. Make a right and keep to the roadside path that leads up past the Marquam Hill Water Tank (Facility #2). Cross the road to the resumption of the Marquam Trail at the SW Trails 1 sign, and head down the slope under a canopy of maples. The trail winds down and makes several switchbacks before reaching the Marquam-Flicker Trail Upper Junction. You’ll see the large new footbridge on the Flicker Trail to your right.

Keep left on the Marquam Trail, head down the gully to cross a footbridge, and then hike up before dropping to cross a footbridge over a creek supporting a salmonberry thicket. Continue to traverse and reach the Marquam-Flicker Trail Lower Junction. Keep left, and cross another footbridge over a trickling creek where the Marquam Trail makes a 90-degree bend. Continue down the side of this gully through an understory of sword fern and vine maple to reach Terwilliger Parkway at the Marquam Trailhead. If you are doing this as an in-and-out hike, retrace your steps. Otherwise, check the information below if you are planning to return to the Wildwood Trailhead using public transportation.

Several Trimet buses run Terwilliger Boulevard, so you can wait for one of these if you wish (There is no weekend service, however). Cross the road and walk the Terwilliger Trail around the curve to your left. The bus stop is about 1/3 mile away from the Marquam Trailhead. However, there is more frequent bus service on Barbur Boulevard. To reach Barbur, cross Terwilliger and take the sidewalk up to the right (the Terwilliger Trail). Pass a parking pullout, one of the trailhead parking areas for the Marquam Trail, on the opposite side after 50 yards. Continue to head up to a grassy expanse with a picnic table 0.3 miles from the Marquam Trailhead. From here, a lightly graveled trail, the Buhler Cutoff, heads into the woods. Drop down a ridge with a steep-sided gully to the left. A huge cottonwood shades the gully. The trail drops to Bus Stop #155 on Barbur Boulevard. If you are heading to points south, this will be your stop. Otherwise, cross the street and walk to your left to catch one of the several buses going downtown


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash on Marquam Trail (cannot ride public transportation)
  • Park hours: 5:00 a.m. to midnight

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Walk There! 50 Treks In and Around Portland and Vancouver edited by Laura O. Foster

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.