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PDX Runs: Fairmount Loop

Peekaboo views await on the Fairmount Loop.

The Fairmount loop
 [MAP] is 3.5 miles nearly uninterrupted on Fairmount Boulevard in the southwest hills above Portland. It has some rolling inclines, some great views of the city and mountains, and some very unique houses to ogle. 

Fairmount loop has become a mainstay of serious Portland runners, especially those doing extended workouts in preparation for a marathon or other long race. Here's PRC-owner and frequent Fairmount runner Dave Harkin on why:

The loop is almost exactly 3.5 miles so whether your GPS is working or not, you know how far you have run. The loop rolls but is gentle enough to do uptempo work, traffic is light, and very pedestrian friendly. Fairmount is a great place to prepare for the rolling hills of the Boston Marathon.

I ran the route loop three times (for a total of 10.2, being just shy of 3.5 each lap, perhaps because we switched directions, missing 100 yards or so). Both directions—counter-clockwise and clockwise—had many runners, walkers, bikers, and skaters. There weren’t too many cars on the roads. 

I enjoyed running both directions because they offered different views of houses and hills. The route is pavement, mostly tree-covered, with some gravel shoulders and some sunlit areas. There aren’t always wide shoulders for runners. This route would be best with smaller groups or groups that don’t run more than two or three abreast because of the narrow shoulders.

Rumor has it this is a great tempo route for hilly marathons. There are no stop lights or crossings, a lot of other athletes for motivation and camaraderie, relative shade, and some light hills. Because it is not completely flat, it may not be as fast as a tempo on Springwater Corridor, but it does add more variety than Springwater tempos.

Your only intersection on the loop, above.

The loop follows Fairmount Road, except for a short stint at the start on SW Talbot Road. If you’re running clockwise, SW Talbot dead-ends into Fairmount; take a right to stay on the loop. If you’re running counter-clockwise, Fairmount turns into Talbot, and you’ll take a left onto Talbot rather than continuing straight.

There is one Porta-Potty on the loop. Other than that, nearest amenities are at Council Crest Park

How to get there: 

From downtown, take SW Broadway south and head uphill. SW Broadway turns into SW Patton. Turn left on SW Talbot at the four-way stop sign. Shortly after, there’s a three-way intersection with parking on the shoulder. Be cautious about leaving valuables in your car, as many people park and leave their cars unattended for a few hours. There have been some break-ins here.

Another option is to drive up to Council Crest and walk or run down the path to start at the intersection of Talbot and Fairmount.



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