Tolinda-Ridge Trail Loop Hike
From Oregon Hikers Field Guide
- Start point: Tolinda Trailhead or
- Start point: Ridge Trailhead
- End point: Hardesty Trail-Firelane 7 Junction
- Trail Log:
- Hike Type: Loop
- Distance: 5.9 miles
- Elevation gain: 1685 feet
- High Point: 1,045 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Seasons: All year
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Backpackable: No
- Crowded: On the Wildwood Trail and Leif Erickson Drive only
This is an unusual entrance to Forest Park and takes you on a complete loop on some of the least traveled trails in the park's central section. Begin on the Tolinda Trail, which is named after a Camp Fire shelter that burned down in 1976. You will be rising up the Tualatin Hills almost to the crest and then descending to the St. John's Bridge using the Ridge Trail (A well-photographed viewpoint of the bridge is on the lower reaches of this trail). As usual, the Wildwood Trail features prominently in the outing. Note that the lowest section of the Ridge Trail has, at times, become a conduit for transients who set up camp in the woods above the bridge. A half-mile road section ties up the loop. The hike can also be started from the Ridge Trailhead and done in reverse to the description below.
Walk up past a green gate on an ivy-covered roadway in Douglas-fir, cedar, hemlock, grand fir, alder woods with a sword fern and ivy carpet. A creek runs down to the left. The trail winds to the right into a clearing with cedar plantings and then heads up the ridge among red alders. There are a few short, steep sections as you head out of the invasive ivy zone to where sword fern, Oregon grape and salal make up the understory. Woodpeckers, including the large pileated woodpecker, are often active in this section. On a bench was the site of Camp Tolinda, now obscured by the undergrowth; at this point, the Tolinda Trail becomes the Water Line Trail. The path now drops down into Douglas-fir/hemlock forest and then undulates along the ridge under big-leaf maples and some larger Douglas-firs to Leif Erickson Drive.
Go left for 50 yards and resume the trail, passing an old gate. The trail heads gently up on an old road bed. Come to a four-way junction with the Wildwood Trail. Go left on the Wildwood and head into a gully to cross a creek. The Wildwood generally follows a contour and winds in and out of gullies. The Wildwood in this area can be quite muddy with use. Reach Springville Road. The Wildwood resumes 20 yards downhill and continues on a generally level line under alders, maples and Douglas-firs. Reach the Wildwood-Hardesty Trail Junction, and head up the Hardesty Trail.
There are a few steps at the beginning and then you switchback up the side of a ridge to reach the ridge crest and the Hardesty Trail-Firelane 7 Junction near the high point of this loop. Here, bear left under alders, maples, and cedars. Pass the junction with the Trillium Trail and drop to the junction with the Ridge Trail.
Go left on the Ridge Trail and head along the ridge crest under alders, maples, grand firs, and Douglas-firs with a sword fern and Oregon grape understory. The trail drops down to a junction with the Wildwood Trail. Cross the Wildwood and wind and switchback down the ridge to reach Leif Erikson Drive. Go left for 35 yards and resume the Ridge Trail. The trail winds down and crosses footbridges to reach a junction as you hear the traffic noise drifting up from below. For the best viewpoint of the St. John's Bridge, go right here on lumpy tread to a viewing platform. At its dedication in 1931, the St. John's was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi. Both Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier are visible from the viewpoint on a clear day (To access the Ridge Trailhead, continue down to a flight of concrete steps and head down Bridge Avenue 225 yards to the parking pullout).
For the Tolinda Trailhead, make a left at the junction and head down steps to cross an old foundation, a remnant of one of the few homes that used to dot what is now Forest Park. You may also begin to encounter side trails in this area that lead to transient camps. The path switchbacks three times and heads down a former driveway to pass another old foundation. Reach Bridge Avenue and cross it to go left on the sidewalk along a bridge. Descend to Germantown Road, passing the junction with Springville Road. From here, it’s 0.4 miles up Germantown, which really doesn’t have a shoulder, to your car.
Fees, Regulations, etc.
- Dogs on leash
- Share firelanes with mountain bikers
- Park hours 5:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
- Maps: Hike Finder
- Forest Park Topo Trail Map (Portland Parks & Recreation)
- Forest Park North (Forest Park Conservancy)
- Green Trails Maps: Forest Park, Hoyt Arboretum, Washington Park #426S
- Northwest Portland Bike/Walk Map (Portland Bureau of Transportation)
- Search Trip Reports for Tolinda-Ridge Trail Loop Hike
Related Discussions / Q&A
- Search Trail Q&A for Tolinda-Ridge Trail Loop Hike
Guidebooks that cover this hike
Parts of this loop are described in the following guidebooks:
- One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park by Marcy Cottrell Houle
- Portland Forest Hikes by James D. Thayer
- Portland Hill Walks by Laura O. Foster
- Forest Park (Portland Parks & Recreation)
- Forest Park (Portland, Oregon) (Wikipedia)
- The Forest Park Conservancy
- "Tolinda Trail to Waterline" (Portland Monthly)
- And All the Trails of Forest Park 2011 (All Thoughts Work™ Outdoors)
- Willamette River (St. Johns) Bridge (State of Oregon links)
- St. Johns Bridge (Wikipedia)
- bobcat (creator)