PDX Runs: Council Crest

Council Crest Park Trail Run Portland Oregon


This trail is for the runners who smile before tackling hills. The ones who like to grit their teeth, lean into the hill, and just think about bringing each knee up for one more stride.

From the Marquam Nature Park parking lot, it is about 2 miles and more than 800 feet of elevation gain to reach the top of Council Crest. This is believed to be the highest point in Portland at 1,073′.

Your efforts are rewarded with an astounding view of five Cascade volcanoes on a clear day: Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, and Mount Jefferson.

Park at the Marquam Nature Park off of SW Sam Jackson Park Road. If you take Terwilliger Boulevard from Duniway track, just continue straight past the Shell gas station and take the first “exit” to the right after the giant water tanks.

There are a few options at the trailhead, but if you take the Sunnyside Trail to the right, you won’t need to make any turns. Sunnyside runs into Marquam Trail, which will take you to the top of Council Crest. You will cross three roads on the way to the top, so watch out for cars and bikes. The surface is a single-track dirt trail that is somewhat rutted and criss-crossed with roots in places.

Council Crest first gained popularity in the early 1900s, when an amusement park opened in 1907. A trolley shuttled visitors to the park to enjoy its ferris wheel, scenic railway, dance hall, and amazing views. While there is no longer a dance hall waiting at the top, I insist on doing your own little hill climb celebration jig!

More interesting information about the park is online here.

-Allison Cook

Search our store