Many years ago on a local news station, a TV weatherman provided the forecast of the following day’s weather by saying “It will be
cloudy and rainy with temperatures in the 50°s. And, for those of you who have just moved to Portland, it could be the weather forecast for any day of the year.” I was thinking about his observation while hiking in early October. There were low-lying clouds and drizzle with skein after skein of noisy geese flying overhead on their way south. Not to be deterred, I decided to hike in Forest Park.
The Park is the premier urban forest in the nation, covering over seven square-miles of semi-natural forest. It is
located on the northeast side of the ridge that runs beside the Willamette River as it leaves the Portland downtown heading for the Columbia
River. For the curious, the Willamette River is the twelfth largest river in the continental United States and the Columbia River is number two.
Parking at the end of NW Thurman Street, the southern edge of Forest Park, I began a loop hike heading north. The first leg followed the well-graded Leif Erickson Drive
(closed to vehicles) for a short distance before turning up the ridge on the Wild Cherry Trail for one-half mile. The Wildwood Trail became the next leg of the loop for 3 1/2 miles, mainly meandering in and out of canyons through an understory of ferns and an overstory of alders, maples and a few cedars and Doug firs. The Nature Trail was the next segment, leading down the ridge along Rockingchair Creek before reaching Leif Erickson Drive for the return to the Trailhead. The loop makes for a nice hike with a distance of 8.6 miles with 700 feet of elevation gain.