America's Largest City Forest
Forest Park

Hiking the Forest Park Wildwood Trail

Forest Park is just 15 minutes away from our apartment and is one of the largest natural forested parks in America with 80 miles of trails throughout 5200 acres. It stretches for more than 7 miles along the slopes of the Tualatin Mountains. We already hiked some of the trails at Forest Park and often noticed the Wildwood Trail marker at the crossings, whether close to Portland or quite some distance away. In hindsight, not a surprise. 

The Forest Park Wildwood Trail is America’s longest forested urban trail – it is a whopping 30.2 miles long – and it is meandering through the park starting at in Portland near the Portland Zoo and ending at Wildwood Newberry Trailhead.

Wildwood Newberry Trailhead - NW Newton Road Crossing

Saturday, March 30, 2019 – We started at the end-point, the Wildwood Newberry Trailhead, for our first leg. We turned back at the Wild Wood Trail crossing with NW Newton Road (3.75 miles). This northern part of the trail offers a look “at an authentic western coniferous forest.” It is quiet since there are not many hikers here. This part of the path has some beautiful but steep climbs.

NW Germantown Road - NW Newton Road Crossing – Ridge Trail Crossing

We parked at NW Germantown Road and walked to the crossing we turned last time (1.75 miles). Back at the parking lot, we read it was possible to make a 5.8 miles loop following other trails while still walking the last part of the hike on Wildwood Trail back to the parking lot. We probably missed a sign for the Hardesty rail and had to turn back on NW Leif Erikson Drive. We took the Ridge Trail to connect, after a very steep climb with the Wild Wood Trail. This little detour added an extra two miles to our hike. No problem, since the trail was cool and shady and we had enough water with us. Another beautiful and peaceful hike on well-maintained trails!

NW Saltzman Rd - Ridge Trail Crossing

We were early birds this beautiful Sunday morning, looking forward to being back to Wildwood’s serenity and silence. This time we parked at NW Saltzman Rd and Fireline 5 and followed NW Saltzman Road for a mile to turn left onto the Wildwood Trail. We followed the trail to Ridge Trail Crossing, and this time we descended the Ridge Trail continuing south on the busy with hikers, cyclists, runners, and fellow walkers NW Leif Erikson Drive. At fire-lane 5, we knew we had a steep climb ahead to cross the ridge again to get back to our car.

NW 53rd Drive - Saltzman Rd/Wildwood Trail crossing

The closer to Portland, the busier the Wildwood trail gets with runners! This morning we were lucky to able to park at the only spot available just across the entrance of the Wildwood trail on NW 53rd Drive. Again, this was a beautiful part of the Wildwood trail! And early in the morning, the sunlight gives the forest a magical touch with its softer light. We found the trail steeper and some parts not as well maintained. We almost stepped on the “snail on the trail”! It was undertaking its long journey to cross the other side of the path. 

After about 7 miles, we reached our turning point, the Saltzman Rd/Wildwood Trail crossing. We then followed Saltzman Road to NW Leif Erikson Drive and turned left. We could see the Willamette River in the distance through the trees! We also could smell the petrochemical production plants located along the river. After about 5 miles, we climbed the Alder trail to return to the Wildwood Trail. 4 hours, 15 minutes, and 13.8 miles later, we were back at the entrance!

SW Fairview Blvd - Barbara Walking Crossing

We parked at the same parking lot and continued to follow the Wildwood trail where we left off last time. The last part of today’s leg was familiar, we already hiked the more busy part of the trail from the Witches Castle to the Pittock Mansion. We turned before the future Barbara Walking crossing – this bridge will be installed in October 2019. This part of the trail is again beautiful but steep, and our legs and feet were challenged the last few miles. Since we took the Wild Cherry trail back to the car, we made a shortcut of one mile to the parking lot. It was kind of symbolic my phone battery died shortly before returning to the car. I felt the same. One leg to wrap up this trail! We will wait another month though to be sure that we can cross the new bridge!

SW Fairview Blvd - Starting Point Wildwood Trail

All things must come to an end! Today, we came to hike the last part of the Wildwood trail. We parked at SW Fairview Blvd and walked to the starting point of the Wildwood Trail close to the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial (which is worth a visit by itself ). Until today we had always hiked the Forest Park Wildwood Trail in the early morning. The late afternoon sunlight gave the forest a more open and warmer character. We detoured to see if the Portland Japanese had opened its doors to make a quick visit. It was, but we decided to go another day. Finally, we crossed the Barbara Walker bridge and walked to our self-made turning point marker. The last half mile, we hiked the beautiful Redwood Trail with its special beautiful giants.

Back in the car driving home, we wondered if we would hike together in Forest Park and the Wild Wood trail again. We have been here so many times. However, we still want to see so much of Portland before we move to a different state in 2020. I have so enjoyed the 60 miles we hiked here – even the accidentally made detours. At least hubby will still go to Forest Park regularly to volunteer, maintaining the trails.

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