On the Run

Exploring Portland’s Forest Park

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Finding myself in Oregon’s Portland with a morning free of commitments, I decided to explore. My nearly new copy of One City’s Wilderness: Portland’s Forest Park was warped from earmarks I’d folded over the last couple of days. Each tag advocating a trail worthy of running.

I always turn to running when it comes to getting to know a place. Shoes are easy to pack and placing one foot in front of the other allows a slowed-down view of the scenery in front of me. Today’s exploration was no different: I was enticed by the description of a loop beginning where Leif Erikson Drive crosses Germantown Road in Forest Park’s north east end. The payoff: six miles of dirt and almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

The slow ascent of Leif Erikson gave me a chance to settle in; it’s wide track was busy with walkers and mountain bikers. But at mile three I took a hard right onto the Ridge Trail and found myself completely alone. It was here the forest canopy began to shed its moisture and a second later I recognized the steady plop of watery drops hitting the leaves. I welcomed the rain – it cooled my efforts as I climbed to Wildwood Trail. One hundred year old pines towered above as I cruised the slick dirt path in the direction I had come. My route traced the ridge-line, diving in and out of deeply, fissured canyons with such consistency I turned my focus forward and paused only to capture a few images with my iPhone.

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