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Mount Tabor Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View of Mt Hood from the summit (Jane)
One of three reservoirs on Mt Tabor (cfm)
View of Portland and the lower reservoir (Jane)
Harvey Scott statue, Mt. Tabor (now replaced by a bust of York, Captain William Clark's slave) (bobcat)
The Crater, Mt. Tabor (bobcat)
Mt Tabor topo map
  • Start point: Lincoln Street TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mount Tabor Summit
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.0 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 350 feet
  • High point: 645 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Sometimes


Hike Description

Mount Tabor is an extinct volcano, one of many that dot the landscape east of Portland and make up a complex called the Boring Lava Fields. The mountain is the center of a 197-acre city park of the same name designed by the Olmsteds. There are many routes you can take in this park: feel free to wander and visit many times! The one described here is a loop that gives the maximum elevation gain and distance, with varied scenery. Some points on this route are marked with posts painted with blue arrows. There are a couple of other loop trails that are color-coded. In the park visitor center near the caldera, you can pick up brochures, including a guide to the 57 numbered trees, a trail map, a historical timeline, and a geological history.

Begin on the west side of the park, on Lincoln Street. Where Lincoln makes a 180-degree turn leading up the slope, a maintenance road heads north (left) past a gate. This descends to rectangle-shaped Reservoir #6, the lowest of the three reservoirs in the park, all of them constructed during the period 1894 - 1911. These reservoirs were once the receptacles of Portland's drinking water, with the original source the Bull Run Watershed on the western flanks of Mount Hood, but as of August 2015 were slated for decommissioning under what is known as the Long Term 2 (LT2) Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule. The idea was to move drinking water reservoirs underground to avoid the spread of the gastrointestinal parasite cryptosporidium. The historic reservoirs remain in place as scenic attractions and continue to contain non-potable water at about 85% of their usual levels.

Walk along the east side of the reservoir until, just past a pump house, make a right to take the nearly 100 stairs that will lead up to oval-shaped Reservoir #5. The atmospheric gatehouse here looks like it is constructed of stone but is really reinforced concrete. Turn right on the access road and, just past the Weir House, look for a trail heading up uphill on your left. This trail goes over Poison Oak Hill, another volcanic cone, and drops down again above the third and oldest reservoir in the park, Reservoir #1, which reflects another scenic gatehouse. Below here is Warner Pacific College. You'll cross the access road on the trail to continue to the summit. This side of the park provides a natural wooded setting amongst huge Douglas-firs. Unfortunately, English ivy and blackberry bushes have invaded the understory. Soon you will reach a five-trail junction. In the center is a charming old streetlight with a mossy patina. Turn left here to reach the summit.

A circular drive surrounds the mountain top, but it is closed to motorized traffic. Up here you will just find cyclists, trail-runners, and dog-walkers enjoying the summit. Birders with binoculars are often out scouting for the hundreds of species found in the park. Also here, though unseen, is the underground Reservoir #7, which was not part of the decommissioning project. From the statue of Harvey Scott, founder of The Oregonian newspaper, you can traverse north across the grassy hilltop amongst towering Douglas-fir trees. (In 2020, the Scott statue was removed and replaced by a bust of York, the enslaved man who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition.) When you reach a bench near a large multi-trunked big-leaf maple, stop for a view of Mount Hood to the east. A path leads in a northerly direction downhill past the playground to visit the caldera, which is now home to an amphitheater and a basketball court. The layers of dark black and reddish welded rock and cinder bring home the point that you are indeed in the middle of a volcano! The small visitor center and some restrooms are just above the amphitheater.

To return to your car, take a path that leads west from the basketball court and look for the blue signposts to find Skunk Canyon, filled with salmonberry and small cedar trees. At the bottom of the canyon trail, follow the signposts across the access road, and pass the tennis court. Keep straight to continue above Reservoir #6 to reach Lincoln Street.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Dogs on leash (The off-leash area is at the south end of the park)
  • Park open 5:00 a.m. – midnight
  • Restrooms, picnic tables, play area, visitor center
  • Park closed to motor vehicles all day on Wednesdays and from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. all other days

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Urban Trails: Portland by Eli Boschetto
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Hiking Oregon's Geology by Ellen Morris Bishop
  • Best Easy Day Hikes: Portland, Oregon' by Lizann Dunegan
  • Take a Hike: Portland by Barbara I. Bond
  • Peaceful Places: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Portland Hill Walks by Laura O. Foster
  • Walk There! 50 Treks In and Around Portland and Vancouver edited by Laura O. Foster
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck & M.J. Cody
  • Walking Portland, Oregon by Sybilla Avery Cook
  • Portland Step-by-Step by Joe Bianco
  • Best Trail Runs: Portland, Oregon by Adam W. Chase, Nancy Hobbs, and Yassine Dibboun
  • Best Bike Rides: Portland, Oregon by Lizann Dunegan & Ayleen Crotty
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson
  • Canine Oregon by Lizann Dunegan

More Links


  • CFM (creator)
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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