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PDX Runs: Whipple Creek

Grist Mill Whipple Creek Park Vancouver Washington Trail Runs Portland Running Company

Whipple Creek Regional Park
 is a 300+ acre second-growth forest that is easy to get to and better yet, easy to run in. It has 4.3 miles of beginner-friendly trails that can be navigated in different ways to make your own adventure, long or short.

This runner likes figure eights of the Stone Mill and South Ridge loops. Be creative and you can keep the scenery fresh.

A few years ago this park wasn’t a running destination. Trails in disrepair were too muddy for anyone except horseback riders. A lack of signs made it hard to find your way around…or out! Here is the story of the good people who have restored the park and continue to care for it.

Today the major trails are well marked, graded, and surfaced with gravel. They’re frankly easy to follow and clearly differentiated from the primitive trails that are seasonally off-limits (again, due to mud, which makes them treacherous and damage-prone).

Some points of interest in the park include an abandoned grist mill and a chimney from an old homestead. Mossy, fern-covered slopes and ridges stay cool and damp beneath the canopy of cedar, fir, and gnarly big-leaf maples. The eponymous creek burbles through the brush on the south side of the park.

Whipple Creek Park feels primordial—far away in space and time from the nearby city.

A point of caution: There are equestrian users on these trails. If you encounter horses coming toward you, stop, step aside (downslope is best), and let them pass before you resume running. If you come up behind horses, slow down, swing wide so the horse can see you, and call out to the rider. State your intention to pass and wait for them to acknowledge and waive you by. It’s neighborly, and you get to keep your teeth.

I probably wouldn’t bring a dog because of the horses. If you do, the dog must be leashed. Also, horse manure is a feature here, so tread carefully.

Directions: Whipple Creek Park is just west of the Clark County Fairgrounds-Event Center-Amphitheater complex. Go north on I-5 and exit at 179th Street. Turn left on NE 179th. After about 1.5 miles, turn left on NW 21st Ave. Arrive.

Here’s a great map of the trail system in the park. Park use is free. Whipple Creek Park is open from 7 AM until dusk. If you’d like to help maintain this park, join the restoration committee.

-Ryan Heal


Gravel Trail Run Whipple Creek Park Vancouver Washington