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PDX Runs: Powell Butte

Powell Butte Nature Park

Like his nearby brothers Kelly Butte, Rocky Butte, and Mount Tabor, Powell Butte in southeast Portland is an extinct volcano, part of the chain of Boring Lava Buttes.

About 10 miles of trails crisscross this city park’s habitats. The park’s main entrance is on its northeast side, at SE 162nd and Powell Boulevard, where an access road takes you to a large parking area with a visitor center and restrooms.

Smaller trailheads are located on its western flank, while some runners and bikers choose to enter the park from the Springwater Corridor Trail, east of SE 145th Avenue. A detailed trail map showing access points can be found online by clicking here

Once used primarily for orchards, a dairy, and cattle grazing, today the park is in public ownership. Its 600 acres of forested slopes and open meadows at the summit now provide recreational opportunities for runners, hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and bird watchers.

The park supports abundant wildlife and affords great views of snowy cascade peaks. Those views were cherished by the Anderegg family, Swiss immigrants who farmed on the property for generations. The name Powell Butte was made official in the late 1960s, but most locals continued to refer to the property as “Anderegg Hill.” A summary of the butte’s agricultural past can be found here.

Powell Butte’s trails become quite muddy during the rainy season, so be sure to put the park on your destinations list for some great summer and fall trail running. Expect a lot of climbing and descending. The scenery will reward your efforts.

-Phil Orlowski