Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Portland 4T Trail

Mark and I enjoyed our October "play day" today. We had seen signs for the "4T Trail" in Portland, so today was our adventure! (This site has excellent directions.)

The Ts stand for:

The 4T Trail makes a wonderful scenic loop all through Portland. About 6 miles of it is a hiking trail. There is a section on the MAX train, and another section on the Portland Trolley. Perhaps the most thrilling section is a ride on the aerial tram that goes from the Willamette River up to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) hospital.

The great thing about the 4T Trail is that you can do it any time the public transportation and the tram are operating, and you can start at any point along the loop. Mark and I started at the bottom of the tram. Then we did our hiking, followed by a MAX train ride. Finally, we took the trolley back to the parking area at the base of the tram.

The entire trail is VERY well signed. At every intersection along the way, and at every place we might have thought it was an intersection (but it wasn't), there was a 4T marker to guide us. We didn't have any difficulty at all. We did print out the directions from one of the websites, and that was very helpful.

It took us about 4 1/2 hours to do the whole loop, but we had a couple of extra stops along the way, as you'll see in the photos below.

 Boarding the aerial tram. Mark is ready for the adventure!

 Looking up the wires. We're headed for that big building (OHSU) along the far skyline.

 Looking out over the view of Portland.

 Here comes the other tram! There are 2, so one is always going up while the other one comes down. They pass each other in the middle, of course.

 There's OHSU above us - almost to our destination.

 Heading for the terminal at the top.

 One last photo looking down. Those are the wires our tram took to come up to the top of the hill. Mark said it felt like riding on an elevator, but sideways.

 After we disembarked from the tram, we hiked through the hospital campus to a nearby trailhead.  Suddenly we were in a lush forest!

 Maidenhair fern

Sunlight through cedar boughs

 After four miles of steady hiking - mostly uphill - we came to a lovely park at the top of Portland. Council Crest is the highest point in the city.

 We stopped to catch our breath and enjoy a snack and some water.

And we snapped a photo of Portland below us on this beautiful autumn day. Then we headed back into the woods, heading north toward the Oregon Zoo.

 The happy hikers, pretty green-gold autumn foliage

 Fungus on the forest floor

 The BIGGEST, juiciest caterpillar I have ever seen. He was huge! We put our boots into the photo to give a sense of scale. After the photo, we moved him off the trail so he wouldn't get stepped on. But I'll bet some bird would love to find this fellow.

 Six miles and two hours of hiking after we started, we reached the overpass over Highway 26, leading to the Oregon Zoo.
We stopped to eat a sandwich and cup of soup at the zoo restaurant...then we made friends with this big guy.

From the zoo, we could look south and see the tower on the top of Council Crest, 2 miles away. That's where we just hiked from!

Leaving the zoo, we headed for the MAX train. The zoo MAX station is deep underground, in a 3-mile-long tunnel.

We detoured a bit on the MAX train. Instead of getting off at the trolley stop, we continued on to the Saturday Market in Portland. So many fun things to see and do there!

A little street music...

While we were there, we shopped for my dad's birthday gift. He'll be 79 next week. We found a lovely gift for him, but of course I can't reveal it here...he reads this blog... (Don't worry, Dad--I'll get it in the mail right away!)

We backtracked on the MAX to the trolley intersection, which we rode all the way back to the south waterfront and the tram station. Our Metro tickets were good for two hours, and we had time to spare, even with our detour to Saturday Market.

An awe-inspiring view of the tram tower, just before we headed into the parking garage to retrieve the car. 

If you go on this outing, here are a couple of tips to know about.

1. The tram costs $4 for a round-trip ticket. They sell the tickets at the bottom of the tram, and then when you get back on at the top (assuming you want to do the round trip), it's free. But if you're only going one way as part of the 4T Trail, and you want to ride the tram for free, then go counter-clockwise on the 4T Trail, so that you're going down on the tram.

2. For the hiking part, the section between the tram/OHSU and Council Crest is about 4 miles of uphill trail. From Council Crest to the zoo, it's about 2 miles downhill. Determine which direction you want to go based on whether you'd rather do more uphill or downhill hiking. Believe it or not, Mark and I prefer uphill hiking. It's so much easier on our knees than downhill! Even though we paid $4 each for the tram, we are really glad that we chose to go on the 4T Trail loop in a clockwise direction.


ken said...

What a great way to spend some fun time together. Thanks for choosing transit as it helps keep me employed. You two certainly know how to choose the adventures.

Dorothy said...

You lucked out and had such a beautiful day for your adventure! It sure looks like fun.! :)

Sarah said...

That's awesome! How did I not know about the 4T? Driving in Portland was always so awful, so I hardly went. Great photos. I especially love the sunlight on cedars one. Gorgeous! Also the one of you two in front of the green-gold leaves. You look so happy!
Great playlist btw!

Michael Koponick said...

I took mass transit the majority of the time I lived there, and when I worked downtown. I actually miss the bus where I am at now.

The one thing I always enjoyed about Portland, is you can be in the city one minute, and the next in the forest. Such a wonderful place.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [09 Oct 09:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Katie said...

1. Oooh, the tram. How futuristic. Maybe someday when I visit I'll actually ride it. (Though I can't imagine any great excuse for me to do so.)

2. I haven't been to Saturday Market in so long. Perhaps sometime we'll visit during the right season and get to go again.

Hillary said...

Wow! This in an awesome post! I love how the forest is intermingled with Oregon life. Wonderful pics too! Miss ya guys! Love - Josh and Fam

Josh said...

Wow! This in an awesome post! I love how the forest is intermingled with Oregon life. Wonderful pics too! Miss ya guys! Love - Josh and Fam