Sunday, February 21, 2010

New trails in the city

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know that we've been having glorious sunny weather lately. Is it really still February? It certainly feels more like April or May. On Saturday, there was no doubt it was finally going to be a trail day. But instead of going to Forest Park, Marc and I decided to check out Powell Butte Nature Park. It's only a 15 minute drive from our house. For longer runs it's only 5-6 miles along the Springwater Corridor. But on Saturday I only needed 10 miles so we decided to drive.

There's been a fat ass run on Powell Butte the past few January's and I had read on the nw ultra list that you can make a loop of 6 miles. So we figured we'd just run around in circles a few times and call it good.

The main parking lot is closed for a construction project (the city is burying a new water reservoir), so we started at one of the neighborhood entrances on the north side of the park. Half of the park consists of forested hilly trails, and the other half is atop a meadow-ed butte with beautiful 360 degree views. We've been to Powell Butte many years ago but I only remember hiking around the top of the butte. We'd never explored some of the forested trails.

It was a cool 40 degrees when we started, but within a half hour we had shed our jackets and were comfortable in shorts and short sleeves. The first section of trail we ran was very runnable, mainly because we were mostly headed downhill! We wanted to explore all the trail heads so we did run out on the street and back into the park at another trailhead on the west side. In the heart of the park there are many intersecting trails. We had the map and the signage was pretty good so we mostly knew where we were. The first time around we stayed to the outer loop so kept veering right. Eventually we wound around to the south side of the park and hit some serious up hill sections. Finally at the top of the butte we were rewarded with crystal clear views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt St. Helens. The sky was so clear we likely could have seen Mt. Rainier too, but I think it was hiding behind Mt. St. Helens.

All pictures are from the City of Portland or Friends of Powell Butte websites.

We circled the butte and then headed back down into the forest for round two. This time we tried some of the inner trails. It was a low energy day for me so I was happy to flash the downhills and then power hike, walk and jog the uphills. I think continuous running on a flatter route would have killed me.

On the last loop we decided to back track and go down one of the trails that we had already run up. This was a shorter loop and back on top we also took the shorter butte loop around the old orchard.

Across the meadow we could see the trail that would lead us down to the spur trail to our van. I was ready to be done with the hills and climbing, but Marc convinced me that we should take a different trail that looked like it skirted the edge of the forest, but stayed mostly on the butte. It didn't take long to discover that no, this trail went back down into the forest! I whined, but only for a nanosecond, because soon we were headed up again and mostly north in the direction we wanted to go. However, this was definitely the steepest trail of them all. I could feel my hamstrings burning as we power-hiked up the last steep section. But we were soon back on the butte and then on our spur trail and finally back where we started.

I had my gps with me and despite it losing signal quite often when we were under the trees, I think it was fairly accurate. We finished in 2 hours 24 minutes for about 11.25 miles. That's a 12:46 pace, which I think is about right considering we walked and hiked a lot and stopped at many of the trail junctions to check the map. don't know how exciting it is to discover new trails. Or maybe you do. : ) And such awesome trails at that. A few times we both remarked that we felt like we were at an ultra in the middle of the wilderness. We will definitely be back!


Joe said...

New trails in familiar cool this sequence is for you two!!!

You are an honest person...I first thought those pix were your own!! Nice to give credit!!!

Enjoy your week!

Addy said...

Discovering new trails is so much fun! I just tried out some new ones this weekend, and now will definitely be revisiting them.

Sounds like you really found some keepers :)

Backofpack said...

Oh, another OR destination! Of course, I still haven't done Forest Park, or the Gorge, or Wildwood. I guess, really, I've only done the marathon...but I have dreams to check out all the others some day. Thanks for letting us know about this cool new spot!

Darrell said...

Waht a great discovering and so close to home. I suspect you'll be using it more often for your short easy days.