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PDX Runs: Reed College Trails

Reed Lake, Reed College Canyon

Thank you, Reed College, for providing public access to two gems tucked into inner SE Portland. On the north side of campus are two distinct off-pavement opportunities: a short looping trail through Crystal Springs canyon, and a nearby gravel path about one quarter mile in length that encircles the soccer field.

Crystal Springs emerges from the bluff below SE 39th Avenue and forms a small lake surrounded by woods. It has been a nature refuge since 1913 and is the oldest natural lake in Portland.

A level trail takes a quiet meander around the lake before it branches into short segments on both sides of the canyon below. Wildlife abounds in the canyon, and this 28-acre patch of nature provides field study for Reed students. A recent trip revealed evidence of beaver activity.


The entire length of the trail is less than two miles, and it can serve as a nice warm-up before heading over to the gravel path for more intense efforts.

The gravel path is located on a grassy hillside, with short, flatter sections connecting longer uphill/downhill sections. The topography and surface provide ready-made, “just-add-runner” opportunities for intervals/speed work or easy recovery jogs.

Some locals call this the college’s track. It has amazing views of Portland's west hills at sunset.

Directions: The gravel path and canyon trail are most easily accessed anywhere along SE Steele Street, between SE 30th and 33rd Avenues, with plenty of on-street parking. For more information on the canyon and Reed Lake, visit this section of Reed’s website

-Phil Orlowski