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Tolinda-Ridge Trail Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

St. John's Bridge, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier from the viewpoint, Ridge Trail, Forest Park (bobcat)
Pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), Tolinda Trail (bobcat)
Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii), Tolinda Trail (bobcat)
Frosty sword fern frond, Wildwood Trail (bobcat)
Old foundation, Ridge Trail (bobcat)
The loop route into Forest Park using the Tolinda Trail (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation
  • Start point: Tolinda TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Hardesty Trail-Firelane 7 Junction
  • Hike type: Loop
  • Distance: 5.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1685 feet
  • High point: 1,045 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: On the Wildwood Trail and Leif Erickson Drive only


Hike Description

This is an unusual entrance to Forest Park and takes you on a complete loop on some of the least traveled trails in the park's central section. Begin on the Tolinda Trail, which is named after a Camp Fire shelter that burned down in 1976. You will be rising up the Tualatin Hills almost to the crest and then descending to the St. John's Bridge using the Ridge Trail. (A well-photographed viewpoint of the bridge is on the lower reaches of this trail.) As usual, the Wildwood Trail features prominently in the outing. Note that the lowest section of the Ridge Trail has, at times, become a conduit for transients who set up camp in the woods above the bridge. A half-mile road section ties up the loop.

Walk up past a green gate on an ivy-covered roadway in Douglas-fir, cedar, hemlock, grand fir, alder woods with a sword fern and ivy carpet. A creek runs down to the left. The trail winds to the right, passing below an old house foundation that has also served current-day campers. You'll pass through a clearing with cedar plantings and then head up the ridge among red alders. There are a few short, steep sections as you head out of the invasive ivy zone to where sword fern, Oregon grape and salal make up the understory. Woodpeckers, including the large pileated woodpecker, are often active in this section. On a bench was the site of Camp Tolinda, now obscured by the undergrowth. The road bed now becomes a path, which drops down into Douglas-fir/hemlock forest and then undulates along the ridge under big-leaf maples and some larger Douglas-firs to Leif Erickson Drive.

Go left for 50 yards and head up the Waterline Trail, passing an old gate. The trail rises steeply and then gently up an old road bed. When you come to the four-way junction with the Wildwood Trail, go left on the Wildwood and head into a gully to cross a creek. The Wildwood generally follows a level contour and winds in and out of gullies. The trail in this area can become quite slick and muddy with use. Reach the junction with Springville Road. The Wildwood resumes 20 yards downhill and continues on a generally level line under alders, maples and Douglas-firs. When you arrive at the Wildwood-Hardesty Trail Junction, bear right up the Hardesty Trail.

There are a few steps at the beginning and then you switchback up the side of a ridge to reach the ridge crest and the Hardesty Trail-Firelane 7 Junction near the high point of this loop. Here, bear left down Firelane 7 under alders, maples, and cedars. Pass the junction with the Trillium Trail and reach the junction with the Ridge Trail.

Go left on the Ridge Trail and head along the ridge crest under alders, maples, grand firs, and Douglas-firs with a sword fern and Oregon grape understory. The trail drops down to a junction with the Wildwood Trail, which is not signed for the Ridge Trail. Cross the Wildwood and wind and switchback down the ridge to reach Leif Erikson Drive. Go left for 35 yards and resume the Ridge Trail. The trail winds down and crosses footbridges to reach a junction as you hear the traffic noise drifting up from below. For the best viewpoint of the St. John's Bridge, go right here on lumpy tread to a viewing platform. At its dedication in 1931, the St. John's was the longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi. Both Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier are visible from the viewpoint on a clear day.

For the Tolinda Trailhead, make a left at the junction and head down steps to cross an old foundation, a remnant of one of the few homes that used to dot what is now Forest Park. You may also begin to encounter side trails in this area that lead to transient camps. The path switchbacks three times and heads down a former driveway to pass another old foundation. Reach Bridge Avenue and cross it to go left on the sidewalk along a bridge. Descend to Germantown Road, passing the junction with Springville Road. From here, it’s 0.4 miles up Germantown, which really doesn’t have a shoulder, to your car.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Share firelanes with mountain bikers
  • Park hours 5:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

Parts of this loop are described in the following guidebooks:

  • Forest Park: Exploring Portland's Natural Sanctuary by Marcy Cottrell Houle
  • One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park by Marcy Cottrell Houle
  • PDX Hiking 365 by Matt Reeder
  • Portland Forest Hikes by James D. Thayer
  • Portland Hill Walks by Laura O. Foster

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.

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