(NW Thurman St. at NW Lief Erikson Dr.)
Lief Erikson Trail is an 11.2 mile up-and-back running trail that is buried in the heart of Forest Park. The trail winds on a cliff and one can look down hundreds of feet of trees, moss, ferns, and vines of all different colors of green. It feels as if you are running on a different planet and you and nature are the only things that exist. The surface is soft and there isn't any pavement besides a small bit that is easily overseen. On a clear day, there is a beautiful view of the city through the trees. There are also white posts located every 1/4 mile on the trail.
The trail also is composed of several other trails that go up the mountain from Lief Erikson road, so it is perfect for hiking as well. Dogs are allowed on the trail, it is kid-friendly, and you will perhaps see a mountain biker on your route. The trail is wide enough to accompany everyone.
There are two entrances to the trail. The first entrance is found through the alphabet district on 23rd street. When heading north on 23rd, make a left at Thurman Rd. Follow Thurman all the way up through the houses until you hit a dead end which will bring you to the trailhead of Lief Erikson. There is limited parking by the trailhead, so you will probably have to turn around and park on the side of the road and walk a short distance to the start of the trail. When starting on this trailhead, the first mile and a half is slightly uphill and then it evens out to a more even surface. On the plus side, the way back is always faster!
The second entrance is on Germantown Road. This can be found from multiple directions depending on where you are heading. It can be accessed by Skyline Rd. or just above the St. John's Bridge. Either way is a very beautiful, scenic drive. The parking is a dirt parking lot on the left side of the road if you are coming from the St. Johns Bridge or on the right side of the road if you are coming down from Skyline. There are less people who access the trail from this direction if you want more solitude and a slight decline at the start of your run/hike/ride. However, take caution that because the parking lot is somewhat secluded off of the road, there are people who take advantage of that and break into your car. So, don't leave anything valuable in your car and get on the trailhead on a more popular time of the day when more people are present.
(NW Couch St., at NW 12th Ave., Lululemon)
Start from Lululemon, Lucy, or the Adidas Originals store on Couch Street in the Pearl district, look at clothes, get inspired, and head out to the Waterfront of Portland! Parking can be difficult in the Pearl, and it costs money to park every day except Saturday. However, if you want to get a feel for the city, this is the run for you!
From any of these stores, head east on Couch all the way down until you get to the Waterfront. The first half-mile is through the streets of Portland, so just take it easy and use it as a warm-up. There can be some creepy people out, so stay alert, and run in the daylight. Once you see the water, cross over the final street and head to the concrete trail. Turn left and parallel the water on your right hand side. (On this loop, the water should always be on your right) Cross over the steel bridge, turn right again, and head south on the trail. Follow the trail and other runners until you get to the Hawthorne Bridge until you turn right again and cross over the bridge. The final right will lead you to the final stretch of the trail until you are back to Couch St, where you turn left and follow the slight uphill back home.
The run gives awesome views of the city's beautiful architecture, Willamette River, and magnificent bridges. If you are looking for other runners or group runs, go talk to the Lululemon staff! They have a great running community in Portland!
(Multiple Entrances - See Map)
Wildwood Trail encompasses 30.2 miles of Forest Park. It is a single-track trail with multiple entrances and trailheads. The trail is a serene environment, and it boasts some of the most beautiful greenery in the United States. The trail goes for 30.2 miles from point to point if you are going to start at the trailhead that leads you to Pittock Mansion. However, there are multiple trailheads that you can begin your run, and the mileage is unlimited and based on your preference. Look at the trees when you run - they are painted with 1/2 mile markers! Single girls should be cautioned because the trail is extremely isolated, and it can be dangerous for people without a running partner or a dog as a companion.
The hardest part of the trail is from the entrance on Barnes Rd. It is all steep uphill until you reach Pittock Mansion, and it is all steep downhill from there. It is a good route if you want to feel the burn. Recover. And then feel the burn again.
The most popular entrance is from Germantown Rd. The parking is on the left hand side when heading west on Germantown, and the trailhead is directly above the dirt parking lot. The trail is slightly uphill on the way out and slightly downhill on the way back. You can run 20 miles up and back from this point.