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Dogwood-Wild Cherry Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Western trillium (Trillium ovatum), Dogwood Trail (bobcat)
Sweet colt's foot (Petasites frigidus), Dogwood Trail (bobcat)
Woods violet (Viola glabella) and honesty (Lunaria annua), Dogwood Trail (bobcat)
Wild Cherry Trail, Forest Park (bobcat)
The short loop described (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation


Hike Description

The southern reaches of vast Forest Park are naturally more visited and especially popular on weekends. There are more genuine trails here, though, as opposed to fire lanes and old road tracks, and several short loops can be made for those seeking a quick outing close to the heart of the city. The Dogwood and Wild Cherry Trails put on a display of spring blooms, such as trillium, woods violet, fringe-cup, coast toothwort, Indian plum, red flowering currant, and Cascade Oregon grape, and the hidden picnic table at the bottom of the Wild Cherry Trail is a worthy lunch spot.

From the parking pullout, walk to the trail sign and, at a memorial junction for Larry Mauritz, keep left and uphill on the Dogwood Trail. This is leafy, mixed Douglas-fir and big-leaf maple forest. At another junction, go right. To the left here is a blocked off area with signs saying campfires prohibited, patrolled nightly - an area once favored by transients. Walk a boggy trail up through swaths of spring-blooming trilliums. In the forest mix are western red-cedar, some grand fir, a few western hemlocks, Oregon grape, thimbleberry, Pacific waterleaf, colt’s foot and invasive English holly. Descend the spine of a ridge, switchback down and keep dropping. Cross the Wildwood Trail at a little park map. The trail descends the north side of the ridge, where you get glimpses of the Willamette River through the trees. Look for large pileated woodpeckers flitting about. Switchback down to a wooden footbridge and come to the Leif Erikson Drive-Dogwood Trail Junction. Winding Leif Erikson Drive, originally Hillside Drive, was constructed in 1914 and platted as a subdivision. Several homes were built along the drive, but landslides were frequent on these soft slopes that accumulated wind-blown deposits: the ambition was abandoned and much of the land near Leif Erikson Drive was acquired by the City of Portland through foreclosures. The road was renamed in the 1930s after a successful petition by the local Sons of Norway chapter.

Go right here and get views of the river and North Portland through the trees. Pass the 3/4 mile marker. On a weekend, be prepared to encounter joggers, walkers, dog owners, and cyclists. Get to the 1/2 mile marker and Leif Erickson becomes tarmac. There’s a port-a-potty to the left and then find the Leif Erikson Drive-Wild Cherry Trail Junction on the right.

Head up the Wild Cherry Trail and switchback at a picnic table under a canopy of Douglas-fir and big-leaf maple. The dense understory here is composed of red elderberry and salmonberry, ivy, Oregon grape, holly, thimbleberry, red huckleberry, sword fern and licorice fern. Little brooks cross the trail: this is a very muddy section in the wet season. Keep rising. The trail switchbacks at a small gully before you traverse up to the Wildwood-Wild Cherry Trail Junction. Here, go 10 yards to the right and resume ascending on the Wild Cherry Trail. Switchback at a bench and get back to the junction with the Dogwood Trail. Go left and out to the parking area.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

Parts of this loop are described in these guidebooks:

  • One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park by Marcy Cottrell Houle
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan
  • Trail Running: Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

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.