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Bpa road-newton road loop hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Large Douglas-fir, Kielhorn Trail (bobcat)
View to the Port of Portland, BPA Road (bobcat)
Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), BPA Road (bobcat)
Looking along the BPA Road (bobcat)
Creek along the much eroded Newton Road (bobcat)
The loop route using the BPA Road (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation
  • Start point: BPA Road TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Kielhorn Meadow
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2600 feet
  • High Point: 1,030 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

The far north of Portland's Forest Park is also the least visited section. Here, Portland's elk herd wanders the forest openings and wooded wildlife corridors connect the Tualatin Hills with the Coast Range. When making loops in Forest Park, hikers need to use a variety of tracks, including maintenance roads, abandoned logging tracks, fire lanes, and foot trails. The loop described uses all of these and also takes some interesting detours, one to the area where Portland's elk herd often hangs out, another down Firelane 13 to a viewpoint, and a third diversion to Kielhorn Meadow.

Hike up the steep BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) Road past a gate. At the junction with Newton Road, go right up the BPA Road. The grassy gravel track, which is used by power line company vehicles only, winds steeply up under powerlines. Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, big-leaf maple, and sword fern seem to dominate. There are views back of Port of Portland terminals as one gets higher. The southern end of Sauvie Island appears. At a junction, take a grassy track off the BPA Road to the right to head in and out of a gully. Here there is a lot of elk sign as Forest Park's elk herd likes to bed down in this area. At a junction, go down to the right for a view of the powerline corridor, which is choked with blackberry. Then head back uphill to the right into Douglas-fir, maple, grand fir woods. Reach the main powerline corridor again and rejoin the BPA Road, which keeps heading up. There are views of Sauvie Island and Mount Saint Helens, with Douglas-fir woods to the left and a steep, brushy ravine to the right.

Reach the junction with Firelane 13 and go right up to a crest with two picnic tables under pylons. There are more views from here. The track then drops into Douglas-fir, cedar, maple and grand fir woods. At the junction with Firelane 13A, keep left. The track descends to a pylon in a blackberry-choked corridor. There’s a view from here of the Multnomah Channel, Newberry Road, and the Sauvie Island Bridge. Return uphill to the BPA Road and go right. The track undulates under powerlines and reaches the junction with Firelane 12 at Hole in the Park. Be here in the evening or early morning and you may catch a glimpse of some of Portland's wildest critters, including bear, coyote, bobcat, and elk. A plaque here commemorates the “Fix the Hole” Campaign, under which land was purchased to prevent development in this part of Forest Park.

Firelane 12 descends into the woods and switchbacks in an alder/salmonberry thicket. The track traverses down above a tributary of Miller Creek shaded by cedar, maple, hemlock, and alder. Trilliums bloom in profusion here in the spring! At the junction with Firelane 15, go left and up. The track winds up under powerlines, passing through an alder thicket and reaching a ridge crest and then the junction with the Wildwood Trail.

Continue straight on Firelane 15 here, which rises steeply and then levels in a very swampy opening rimmed by mossy maples. The track drops past the unmarked junction for Kielhorn Meadow and rises gently to an orange gate and then the power line corridor near the Firelane 15 Gate Trailhead. From here, there are great views of Sauvie Island, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Mount Saint Helens. Head back to the junction and go left and up through the woods to the rather small Kielhorn Meadow. A depression shows where a building once stood. Old elk trails lead out of the meadow, but there is no recent sign. The road track continues on to private property although the public was able to access the park this way at one time. Return to the Wildwood and go right.

The Wildwood drops to a footbridge and then rises to head in and out of small gullies. Cross another footbridge and head into a cedar grove to cross four more footbridges over small creeks. The trail rises and crosses another footbridge to head into a deep gully. There’s another footbridge and then the path rises in Douglas-fir/grand fir/big-leaf maple woods to the junction with the BPA Road. Walk 45 yards to your left to resume the Wildwood Trail as it drops down under powerlines. Traverse down the side of a ridge to cross a footbridge and switchback. Most of the year, this section of trail is rather muddy as it keeps dropping in mixed forest and moves in and out of deep gullies. Cross a footbridge and head gradually up under a mossy vine maple bower. Rise in Douglas-fir, hemlock, maple, grand fir, sword fern, Oregon grape, red huckleberry forest and reach the junction with Newton Road.

Go left and descend this track, passing old white-painted distance markers. The road heads to the left, then winds steeply down into a gully. Slides obliterate parts of the road bed. Take note of several yew trees in the understory. The track drops down to the bottom of a ravine and makes a sharp right to drop alongside a streambed. Most of the road bed here has been washed out by the stream, which at first braids on either side of the footpath. The creek rushes through salmonberry thickets, but eventually the path rises out of the gully and drops to an open area with some plantings protected by mouse netting. Reenter woodland with Highway 30 humming noisily below. Cross a creek and reach the junction with the BPA Road; then go right and descend past the gate to the car.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Share firelanes with mountain bikers

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park by Marcy Cottrell Houle
  • Portland Forest Hikes by James D. Thayer (partial)

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.

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