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Council Crest Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The view towards the east from Council Crest (Martell)
The trail climbs steadily towards the summit (Martell)
Mossy Marquam Trail sign on Fairmount Boulevard (bobcat)
Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens from Council Crest (Gordon Smith)
Google Earth Map, click to enlarge
Vertical profile
GPS Track, click to enlarge
  • Start point: Marquam Nature Park Shelter TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Council Crest
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back with a short loop option
  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 820 feet
  • High point: 1,073 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Somewhat, beware of street crossings
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

This hike is a good way to get some decent elevation gain within the Portland city limits. The destination, Council Crest, is a park built atop a summit with great views on a clear day. The summit of Council Crest is reachable by car, and there are closer trailheads, but you will get a better workout with the described route. There are a few street crossings, but most of the time you are under a leafy canopy dominated by big-leaf maple, vine maple, Douglas-fir, and western hemlock.

Start out at the Marquam Nature Park Shelter Trailhead, and take a few moments to read the interpretive panels at the shelter and admire the Marquam Mosaic, installed in the small amphitheater and created by Portland artist Lynn Takata in 2013. Then head to your left. Almost immediately you will hit a junction. Make a right on the Shelter Trail, following the signs to Council Crest. Pass the park's port-a-potty and then the moss-covered remains of some old concrete cisterns. Keep heading up the bottom of Marquam Gulch under a canopy of big-leaf maples that glow yellow in the fall. The Shelter Trail veers left off the wide tread and then switchbacks up to a junction. Make a right, and ascend four split-rail fenced switchbacks before passing in and out of a gully. Reach the junction with the Sunnyside Trail, and go left. Another four switchbacks will take you past a memorial rock to Rusty and Dan Goldy and some steps at Sherwood Drive. You're now out of Marquam Nature Park.

Cross Sherwood to resume the trail and cross a footbridge. A couple of switchbacks take you into a gully, and then you'll switchback again to rise and then drop slightly under Douglas-firs, cedars, hemlocks, and maples with an Oregon grape/sword fern understory. Another two switchbacks take you to Fairmount Boulevard. Cross to a Marquam Trail sign, and traverse along a leafy hillside to reach Greenway Avenue. Directly cross this road, and switchback up three times to a junction near the off-leash area at Council Crest Park. Make a left to leave the Marquam Trail, pass through the off-leash area, and cross a road to arrive at the summit area of Council Crest.

This seems a relatively peaceful place these days, and it's hard to believe it was once a noisy and busy amusement park that was reached by a hill-climbing trolley. From the small viewing plaza, there are some views to the Tualatin Valley, the 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. Just below is the mother and child statue (stolen in the 1980s and recovered 10 years later).

On the return trip you can make a loop that adds no distance to the hike. At the junction with the Sunnyside Trail in Marquam Nature Park, head to the left this time. At the next intersection, there will be an option to continue towards the Broadway Trailhead, but stay right instead to descend Marquam Gulch towards the Marquam Park Nature Shelter.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Do not leave valuables in your car.
  • Dogs on leash
  • Park hours: 5:00 a.m. to midnight
  • Port-a-potty up the Shelter Trail, drinking fountain at trailhead

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Urban Trails: Portland by Eli Boschetto
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington by William L. Sullivan
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Peaceful Places: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Easy Portland Outdoors by Teresa Bergen
  • 50 Hiking Trails: Portland and Northwest Oregon by Don and Roberta Lowe
  • Oregon Hiking by Sean Patrick Hill
  • Best Trail Runs: Portland, Oregon by Adam W. Chase, Nancy Hobbs, and Yassine Dibboun

More Links


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.