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High Peaks

From City to Forest

From City to Forest

By Dennis McNabb

Looking to go for a hike but craving something a little different? If you don’t mind hitting the pavement, Portland’s 4T Trail offers a wholly unique and worthwhile experience. It’s not a quick one. Completing the loop can take a solid 3 to 4 hours, but it’s a terrific way to observe the city from some unusual views and try out different means of mass transit.

The 4Ts of the Loop refer to: Trail, Tram, Trolley, and Train. The Trail portion of the trip is roughly 4 miles long and runs from Council Crest (which at 1, 073 feet is the highest point in the city) down to OHSU. At OHSU, you will catch the Portland Aerial Tram (which travels 3,300 linear feet downhill to the waterfront in only 3 minutes). From there, you will hop on the Trolley (The Portland Streetcar) and take that into downtown Portland where you can eat and shop to your heart’s content. Finally, the MAX (light rail train) will shuttle you back to where you started.

There is no right or wrong way to do the loop! You can start at either end or anywhere in between and of course there are no rules stating that you have to complete the loop at all. There is a shorter urban trail option that cuts some of the distance off the hike if that’s a concern, or if it’s a greater challenge you seek, you can travel the loop in the reverse direction (hiking up the hill from OHSU to the top of Council
Crest). The possibilities are endless, but regardless of how you approach it, there is something for everyone along the way. If you only like remote hikes where running into others is a rarity, this may not be for you. But for everyone else, this is a fantastic alternative to the norm.

During the winter months, the Tram does not run on Sundays or national holidays. So make sure to keep that in mind. It’s also a good idea to confirm if the trail is open by checking the “Trail Closures and Delays” page under Parks & Recreation on the website: This is a good rule of thumb any time you go hiking since mudslides have been known to occasionally close down even some of the most popular trails. Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail, but not on the Train, Trolley, or Tram unless kept in a carrier.

Check their website: for more details regarding exact routes, places to park, where to find restrooms, etc.

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