As things heat up in Portland in the spring and summer get a reward out of beating the heat and try a sunrise run to Pittock mansion.
This difficult 8.2-mile route with 1,332 feet of climbing will bring you to one of the best views in Portland, but you have to earn it. See below for options to make things shorter.
Even if you don’t get up in time to catch the sunrise, this run provides beautiful views and cooler temps than most. Bonus: If you go early you will get some of the most popular Forest Park trails all to yourself.
Park at the Leif Erikson Trailhead at the end of NW Thurman Street. Start by running down Thurman Street and taking the first right onto NW Aspen Avenue. Run down a small lane lined with exquisite houses.
After 0.4 miles you will reach the Aspen trail. Take a right and leave civilization behind as you get a taste of the ample climbing to come. Turn left when you reach Wildwood Trail and enjoy slightly rolling and then downhill well-groomed single track. You will follow Wildwood from the junction with Aspen trail to the turnaround point at Pittock mansion.
In the second mile look out for the stone house in Lower Macleay Park, and prepare yourself mentally for the sustained uphill. Just before mile 2 cross a wooden bridge over Balch creek and begin the big up.
Run past several parking areas and be careful crossing Northwest Cornell Road. Then switchback your way up for what seems like forever. Finally reach a sloped parking lot and continue straight to the mansion at mile 3.3.
Stop on the far side of the elegant home to enjoy downtown Portland spread out below you. In the distance Mt. Hood rises majestically. This is the iconic Portland view on all the postcards.
Retrace your steps on Wildwood. If you haven’t had enough, instead of taking Aspen trail, continue on Wildwood to Wild Cherry Trail. This tacks on another 1.6 miles of gorgeous trail. At the bottom of Wild Cherry are several porta potties. Follow Leif Erikson Drive for 0.25 miles back to where you parked.
Afterwards indulge yourself with a bagel at Kenny and Zukes (meeting point for our Sunday run), a croissant and espresso from St. Honore Bakery, or a smoothie from the smelly-runner-friendly outdoor window at Dragonfly Coffee.
For a 5.2-mile-total round trip park at Lower MacLeay Park trailhead and run up Lower MacLeay trail to where it joins Wildwood. Then proceed to follow Wildwood to Pittock mansion by continuing on straight at the stone house.
Disclaimer: Trail running can be dangerous. Make sure that you know the route before attempting it, especially in the early morning. Pick up a map, headlamp, and other pre-dawn running gear from Portland Running Company.