Mr. Blue Sky had finally returned to town for a few hours, so we headed downtown for an urban hike. Portland has been ranked as one of the most walkable city in the country, so there are plenty of urban trails crisscrossing the city. However, it isn’t exactly easy to find these trails or information. I manged to find a loop designed by some of the hikers that connected two parks, George Himes in the Tualatin Mountains and Willamette by the Willamette River, with two trails that are designated as SW3 and SW4. SW probably stands for Southwestern Portland, where we were heading.
George Himes is a city park located in an extremely well to do neighborhood. Named after one of the pioneers that traveled across the country on the Oregon Trail, his family managed to make it and settled down near Olympia, Washington. Later on, he worked as a printer/publisher in the Portland area, and his collection of diaries detailed the lives of non-native people who lived in Portland in the 19th century. As a result, they named this tiny ass 35 acres land after him. Today, it is a steep narrow park that is kind of dangerous to run or hike due to the muddy trail after days of snow and rain. I’m sure the locals enjoy this place, and I doubt anyone who isn’t in the neighborhood would visit, and it does not seem to be special.
We headed east, going down the slope towards the river, going under two highways via the Marquam Trail (SW3 trail). The Pacific Highway is completely wooden, whereas the I-5 is concrete. I much prefer the design of the wooden bridge but I wonder the stability of it with the heavy tonnage on the road these days. The I-5 isn’t complete eye-sore, as there are nice graffiti sprayed all over the edge. Whoever these daredevils are, their art deserve to stay up there for a long time. Then, it is a straight shot towards the riverfront through another neighborhood, these are more modest in appearance, but equally expensive compared to the ones on the hill. It started to rain so we got our morning coffee at the Starbucks along the way.
Willamette Park is located on the banks of the same named river. The clouds parted ways again, giving us a little bit of sunshine and blue skies. The grass are neatly trimmed and the paths are paved, There is even a dog park. Everything is great.. except for the sound level. For some odd reasons, there are hundreds of ravens crying on the trees. It made the place extremely lively, and there is no way out except to walk out of the park. South of the park lies even more greenery and a few cemeteries that have hiking trails, and if that’s not enough to cleanse your palette, one can hike across the river via the Sellwood and continue on more hiking trails on the east side of the river. For today, we decided to follow the trail guide and head back up the Tualatin Mountains via SW4 trail.
For some odd reasons, there is a nice pedestrian only stairs to go up the steep hill, hidden between houses. This seem to be a thing, as we have noticed it on the east side as well. Great urban planning! After those stairs, we took another bridge across the busy I-5, and walked around another smaller Fulton Park. This seems like a community center but there is also a French immersion program, not sure how that came about. We continue the hike up the neighborhood, but now we are able to spot the city as we are high enough in elevation. On a good day, we should be able to see the grand Mt. Hood. However, today is a shy day for the big giant. After more mazes around the neighborhoods, we found George Himes Park and our cars – no more hiking upwards! There is a sign near the end, reminding all that the only reason this park was created in the first place, is for the observation of the local Sasquatch.