PDX Runs: Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park is a 232-acre reserve on the outskirts of Beaverton with dirt and gravel paths and gorgeous views. The park is open dawn 'til dusk and the trails are rarely crowded.
Cooper Mountain is maintained by Metro and Tualatin Hills Parks & Rec. District. Within the park boundaries are forests, woodlands, and meadows; vistas include the Tualatin River Valley and nearby Chehalem Mountains.
The main entrance has free parking, water, restrooms, picnic tables, and a natural playground area. No dogs (nature reserve) and no going off the path (poison oak warning signs).
The entrance is at the top of the mountain. Running the perimeter trail is about 2.8 miles, a simple path with one keyhole loop. The loop includes over 400 feet of elevation change, affirming the reserve and its surrounding neighborhood are aptly named.
About the first third of your run is a downhill, followed by about a third mostly-flat, and the remaining third will be a pretty steep uphill, no matter which direction you choose at the start.
There are a few connector trails in the park, too, and it is hard to get lost. If you do manage to get lost, remember that your car is always in the direction of “up.”
Cooper Mountain is perfect for workouts or building up hill strength. I have run there before with cross country teams and found the terrain presents a good opportunity for hill sprints or time-based fartleks.
If you want to add on outside of the park, there are consistent and well-maintained sidewalks heading east from the park that connect to a bike highway (and more sidewalks) on SW 175th.
Take Farmington Road exit from 217 (OR-10) and turn left (south) on 185th. 185th turns into Gassner Road. Follow Gassner and turn left onto 190th. Road curves and becomes Kemmer Road. Cooper Mountain Nature Park is located just beyond the curve on your right.
You’ll like this run for its:
- view from the top;
- hill practice;
- easy parking and facilities.
Julie Baker is a former collegiate swimmer who runs for the Portland Running Company Race Team. She lives in Portland with her husband and two small children. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.