Marquam Trail to Council Crest Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Marquam Trailhead
- End point: Council Crest
- Trail Log: Trail Log
- Hike Type: Out-and-back
- Distance: 5.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1100 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: All
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: Not usually
Wending its way through a patchwork of city parks and greenspaces, the Marquam Trail stretches over five miles through peaceful, secluded forests in Southwest Portland. As part of the city's 40-Mile Loop trail system it connects the Terwilliger Trail in the south with the Wildwood Trail to the north. This Field Guide entry details the southern portion of the trail, from Terwilliger Blvd. to Council Crest. The majority of the hike is in the Marquam Nature Park, and the upper third of it is on a section of trail that is also part of the Council Crest Hike, which starts from a different trailhead.
Easily one of Portland's best close-in hikes, the Marquam Trail is as pleasant as any in Forest Park and features an outstanding four-mountain view from Council Crest Park, once the site of a popular amusement park. The hike has about 1100 feet of total elevation gain, so it's perfect for anyone looking for a good workout without expending the time or gas to reach hikes farther afield. It's also a perfect winter hike for those rainy, foggy days when you can't buy a view in the Columbia Gorge. Bonus: the trilliums are outstanding in early spring!
Starting from the Marquam Trailhead, the trail climbs through dense forest that feels secluded even though it's within a stones throw of OHSU. Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, and big-leaf maples dominate the canopy at this point, and vine maple and Indian plum leaf out in the understory in the spring. head up along a shallow gully and cross a couple of streams. Look for blooming trillium and violet in spring and reach the Marquam-Flicker Trail Lower Junction. Keep right here here and follow the trail as it drops above a gully and then crosses a large footbridge over a creek supporting a salmonberry thicket. Head up along another gully, and then drop again to cross another footbridge. Switchback up the opposite slope and come to the four-way Marquam-Flicker Trail Upper Junction: going right will take you to a minor trailhead on S.W. 12th Avenue and to the left the Flicker Trail crosses a massive bridge. Continue straight, and weave more steeply up the slope in a carpet of ivy. Soon reach Marquam Hill Road and cross it to the water tank. Take the chip path behind a screen of armor vitae, pass the gate to the water tank, and find the Marquam Trail leading downhill into Marquam Gulch.
This route switchbacks down into a ravine. At the bottom follow the old access road a hundred feet or so to the stairs and continue up the other side of the ravine. You'll soon come to a "Y" shaped junction that is not marked. Be sure to stay right here or you'll just circle back to Marquam Hill Road. From this point on the trail is well marked and easy to follow. You will cross three more streets before reaching Council Crest. Here's a PDF of a nice brochure & map produced by the Friends of Marquam Nature Park. There's quite a labyrinth of trails in this park, so you might want to print out the map and take it with you. Most of the junctions are marked though, so it's pretty easy to stay on track.
- Maps: Hike Finder
- Marquam Nature Park Trail Map (Friends of Marquam Nature Park)
- Green Trails Maps: Forest Park, Hoyt Arboretum, Washington Park #426S (new trails not shown)
- Southwest Portland Walk Map (Portland Bureau of Transportation)
Regulations or Restrictions, etc.
- Search Trip Reports for Marquam
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Marquam
Guidebooks that cover this hike
- 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don and Roberta Lowe
- Portland Parks and Recreation Marquam Nature Park
- Portland Parks and Recreation Council Crest Park
- 40-Mile Loop Marquam Nature Park page
- The No Ivy League Ivy Removal Project
- sparklehorse (creator)