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Holman Lane Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Descending the Wildwood Trail towards the Aspen Trail, Forest Park (bobcat)
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), Holman Lane (bobcat)
Looking down Holman Lane in Forest Park (bobcat)
Trilliums (Trillium ovatum), Holman Lane (bobcat)
The loop using the Birch, Wildwood, and Holman Lane Trails; extension to Aspen in orange (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation


Hike Description

This short loop on the southern fringes of vast Forest Park encompasses some of the original acreage of the now 5,100 acre public property. The Holman Property is a 52-acre piece of land on the slopes of Balch Creek that was donated to the City of Portland by George and Mary Holman, siblings of the well-known lawyer Frederick Van Voorhies Holman, in 1939. Holman’s property had been severely damaged in 1906 when Lafayette Pence, a former Congressman and congenital shyster, claimed water rights to the drainage and sluiced 200,000 yards of fine topsoil down the hill through an elaborate set of flumes. Pence’s plan was to fill in the area around Guild’s Lake in northwest Portland to create an industrial center. While Pence went belly up on the scheme, Guild’s Lake was eventually filled in anyway and became the industrial tract it is today. The forest has recovered and native trees and forbs abound although invasives like ivy, holly, and English laurel threaten to overwhelm the ecosystem. This loop can also start from the Aspen Trailhead.

Note that Holman Lane is extremely muddy in the wet season. Tennis shoes will not work here, so wear hiking boots for this short loop at all times of the year.

Across 53rd Drive, the Birch Trail leads down the forest slope from a grassy sward. Hike down through a carpet of Oregon grape, sword fern, and waterleaf under big-leaf maples and Douglas-firs. In a quarter mile, reach the Wildwood-Birch Trail Junction, and go right.

The Wildwood Trail takes a meandering, generally descending trajectory from here. A man-made ditch on the uphill side of the trail was dug in the early 20th century to convey water for the hydraulic sluicing of a lower area of the hillside to provide flat land for a development. Pass some larger Douglas-firs where the trail levels and cross a creek on a footbridge. In spring, the understory here leafs out with Indian plum, red huckleberry, and salmonberry. The path rises into a gully, crosses another footbridge, and then drops again. Wind down through a carpet of invasive ivy and loop around a wide bend before passing over a footbridge. The trail descends further over a couple short sections of boardwalk and switchbacks where a split rail fence prevents shortcutting. Switchback again, and weave down the slope to the junction with the Aspen Trail.

Note: The Aspen Trailhead is an alternative beginning to this hike: a variation on this loop can be made by hiking down to Aspen Avenue. This extension is worth doing on a clear day as, from the Aspen Trail, you can get glimpses of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Hood. Turn right on Aspen, pass the junction with Savier Street, and then make a right on Raleigh to reenter the park at Holman Lane.

From the junction with the Aspen Trail, the Wildwood takes a level contour; look for spring-blooming trillium and violets as you undulate along, crossing three footbridges. Hike in and out of another gully and drop gradually to the four-way Wildwood Trail-Holman Lane Junction. The grassy field in Holman Park lies below this junction and cherry trees are blooming there in spring, while succulent Armenian blackberries can be harvested along the verge of this field in August. Holman Lane leads in to the Willamette Heights neighborhood at the corner of Aspen Avenue and Raleigh Street.

Go right at the junction to follow Holman Lane past an orange/green open gate. This old road bed cuts up the steep north slope of the Balch Creek Canyon and is eroded and churned up in many sections. After climbing steadily under Douglas-firs and maples, the gradient becomes more lenient as you enter a deciduous cover of red alder and big-leaf maple. A path leads off to the right: this unofficial trail leads to a very official-looking bench on the ridgetop and the remains of an old well; a less obvious user trail drops from here down to the Wildwood.

To continue to the Birch Trailhead, however, keep on Holman Lane and pass around a green gate to reach a driveway. Keep left to descend to 53rd Drive. It’s about 140 yards up the verge of 53rd to the Birch Trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Park hours: 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Best Trail Runs: Portland, Oregon by Adam W. Chase, Nancy Hobbs, and Yassine Dibboun
  • One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park by Marcy Cottrell Houle
  • Hiking & Running Guide to Forest Park by Friends of Forest Park (partial)

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.