Uncharted is a new challenge series from Territory Run Co for the Greater Portland area that aims to get you out exploring new areas with pre-planned routes. While each area we highlight may not be new to you, we hope it inspires you to explore some lesser known areas.
HOW IT WORKS
1. Complete one of the listed routes below.
2. Log your run here. Once reviewed, you will receive an email with a merit badge. If you complete between the dates of February 1st - February 29th, this badge of completion awards you $10 in store credit for any Territory products.
3. For each challenge we will also offer a grand prize package. To be entered to win, complete the route between above dates, log it here, and tag us in a photo from your run on instagram.
4. To increase chances of winning grand prize you can also log that you visited post run locations listed below.
We will have Uncharted routes throughout the year and you will be able to collect merit badges from each.
Forest Park Background
For the month of February, we opted to explore to explore some trails a little closer to home.The north end of Forest Park is a true hidden gem. Seeing significantly less use than it's southern half, you can expect to encounter much better habitat with many fewer users. Elk, deer, porcupine, bobcat, bear, coyote, bald eagle, vultures, mountain lion and many more animals have been reportedly seen in this section of the park.
Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world with over 80 miles of trails and 5200 acres in size. Situated in the Tualatin Mountains west of Portland, the park serves as a vital greenway to the coast range, allowing for nearly contiguous habitat for wildlife.
Formally dedicated in 1948, Forest Park is actually a conglomerate of some smaller parks, land donations and delinquent tax foreclosures.
Much of the Tualatin Mountains' base is solidified lava from a series of Grand Ronde basalt flows about 16.5 million years ago. Wind-deposited silt later covered much of what is now Forest Park, creating unstable hillsides. This instability is the reason why much of Forest Park was never further developed and spawned many of the tax foreclosures that grew the parks size.
Human settlement in the area known as Forest Park is believed to date back 10,000 years. Forest Park rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River, creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area.
The North Unit of Forest Park is a relatively new addition and boasts some of the healthiest and pristine habitat in the entirety of the park. Although this section had been an unofficial and vital part of the park for years, it wasn't until 1999 that much of the land in this section of the park was officially acquired and protected.
In the late 1990's it was unveiled that there were plans to develop a large portion of this area. Concerned citizens in cooperation with Metro, Portland Parks and Friends of Forest Park (Now called Forest Park Conservancy) banded together to raise money to purchase what they called the "Hole in the Park". There is a plaque commemorating this important part of the parks history at the intersection of Firelane 12 and BPA Road.
The Forest Park Nasties are a series of strenuous and intentionally difficult routes throughout the park. North Nasty being the best, and most popular, of them all. For a thorough background on the Forest Park Nasties we recommend checking out this great article from our friends at NW Dirt Churners.
Want a taste for the North Nasty? Well, the Nasty Jr. packs a hefty punch. With about 2250 feet of gain in under 9 miles, this route is a front loaded sufferfest of the best kind. Park at the Leif Erickson Trailhead off of Germantown Road and cross to the gate reading "Firelane 9". Firelane 9 starts out gentle enough, but might be a sloppy mud pit if it's rained. Soon enough, though, it turns into a hefty descent- or more accurately, a (hopefully) controlled slide.
Soon enough it flattens out and after a few abrupt direction changes spits you out into a Linnton Neighborhood. You will take a left on Wilark Ave and take it all the way to its terminus. Off to the right is a staircase taking you down to a walking path situated above highway 30.
Descend the staircase and head left towards the Linnton Trailhead. Linnton Trail is one of my favorite trails in the park. It begins beside Linnton creek in a picturesque little canyon flanked with ferns. Gradually it begins to climb, crossing the creek on a concrete bridge before pitching up ever steeper into the hillside.
The trail continues to switchback over rooty footing. Continue climbing until you intersect Firelane 10. Here, you will continue straight, continuing your climb, just now on the firelane. Keep climbing all the way up, intersecting Wildwood and continuing straight until you reach the Newton Parking Lot. From the base of Highway 30 you've climbed roughly 800 feet.
Continue through the parking lot towards the gate on the far side of the lot. This is Newton Road. It starts flat, but eventually does a short, steep little climb before beginning its long descent. You will pass through the Wildwood Trail junction and continue your descent down, working your way down to highway 30.
Newton Road really is a great little part of the park. It's an old road bed lined with Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Cedar, Oregon Grape, Sword Ferns and Grand Fir.
As you get closer to highway 30, the road makes a sharp turn left and works its way around the hillside towards Newton Creek. Newton Creek can have a healthy flow in the winter time, but is generally a pretty simple rock hop across. Cross the creek and then follow it downstream before veering further left. As the trees overhead begin to open up to let more light in, be sure to stay on trail. This area has been slowly having more and more poison oak appear each year. In the winter time, it can be hard to recognize, so keep your guard up.
Soon enough you will connect with BPA Road, a power line easement owned by the Bonneville Power Administration. This is one of the burliest climbs in forest park. The lower part of BPA is loose gravel often rutted out by heavy winter rains. The road can be very steep in parts and then relent to a more gentle grade. There are a few spur roads here, but stay on the main road. At the top is the intersection with Firelane 13. Some people prefer to briefly head up here to the picnic tables at the highest point of the hill.
On a clear day, the views of the Willamette River, Columbia River, Sauvie Island, Mt St Helens and Mt Adams are stunning. Continue left on the gently rolling BPA road.
For the Nasty Jr. we are going to stay on BPA all the way until Wildwood Trail. Take a left on Wildwood heading south. This section of Wildwood is quiet with lots of beautiful vine maple creating little tunnels over the trail. Continue as it gently climbs up to the junction with Newton Road.
You will stay on Wildwood trail here and Wildwood will meander aimlessly through the forest. There will be tight switchbacks around a few drainages and finally you will reach Firelane 10. Take a left here and begin descending down Firelane 10.
Be certain to follow Firelane 10 as it curves to the right and not to accidentally continue downward onto Linnton Trail. Firelane 10 descends to a creek that has become increasingly flooded over the years as the culverts have failed. Cross the flooded creek and begin a moderate climb back up to Germantown road.
Once you've arrived at Germantown, take a left and head back down to your car.
The North Nasty is an absolutely iconic route for Portland trail runners. Regardless of the weather, you can count on Portland's hardy runners climbing and descending these steep and sloppy trails. Just like the Nasty Jr, begin at the Leif Erickson Trailhead on Germantown Road.
Descend the sloppy Firelane 9, turning into the neighborhood and finding the hidden stairwell at the end of Wilark Ave. Take a left on the pedestrian path and get to the Linnton Trailhead.
Climb the 800 feet all the way up Linnton and Firelane 10 until you're at the Newton parking lot, continuing to the far side to begin the Newton Road descent. Climb another 800 feet or so on BPA Road to the high point and continue on BPA until you reach Firelane 12 on your right.
At Firelane 12 you will see a plaque commemorating the dedication of "Hole in the Park", the section of Forest Park you are currently running that was almost lost to development in the 1990's. This is where the North Nasty diverges from the Nasty Jr. Firelane 12 is another very quiet section of the park. It's a gentle descent through deep woods. As it descends, you will see another road below you to your left. This is Firelane 15, our next segment.
When you reach the junction with Firelane 15, take a left, beginning to climb alongside a creek. The firelane quickly switches back and begins to climb more steeply. This is one of the few areas of the route where you will not have cellular service. Soon enough you will reach Wildwood Trail. Continue straight ahead on Firelane 15 as it pitches up even steeper than before. Don't worry though, this relents after a short climb. As it plateaus, the road turns right towards the power line corridor.
Keilhorn Meadows is a dead end trail to your left. Continue to the opening beneath the power pylons and enjoy the sweeping views of the converging Willamette and Columbia as well as Sauvie Island. From here Firelane 15 descends, then climbs, then descends then climbs until it spits you out on Skyline Boulevard.
Here we will be running briefly on the road. Those with dogs should be careful here as the shoulder is narrow and although line of sight is mostly good, there is one semi-blind corner. I actually really hate this section of the North Nasty. It's a slight uphill grade and feels deceptively hard. You will keep running on Skyline looking for the top of BPA road to your left.
Forest Park recently installed trailhead signs along the road that will help indicate your turn with a big arrow saying "Forest Park" on the opposite side of the road. Pass through the gate at the top of BPA and run the short distance until you reach Wildwood Trail. Be mindful that Wildwood doesn't perfectly intersect BPA here. We want to head South on Wildwood, heading to our right, which is a bit further down BPA than the Northbound Wildwood Trail.
At this point we are back to the route the Nasty Jr. utilizes. Run Wildwood all the way to Newton Road and continue on it until Firelane 10 where you will take a left. Descend Firelane 10, following it as it curves to the right and then climb back up to Germantown Road to finish the route.
The North Nastier is my own little twist on the classic North Nasty route. I've always hated the section of the North Nasty that runs on Skyline Blvd and Wildwood Trail. It feels antithetical to the spirit of the North Nasty.
The North Nastier is simple (in concept). Start the route just as you would the North Nasty. We will get all of the hilly goodness the North Nasty promises, and then some. Down Firelane 9, up Linnton and Firelane 10, down Newton Road, up BPA, down Firelane 12, up Firelane 15 to Skyline. Tag the gate and then we're going to turn right around and go back the way we came.
Every climb you just did is now a descent and every descent now a climb. Firelane 15 rolls through the forest with a few descents and a few climbs before it descends steeply to the junction with Firelane 12. We will climb up Firelane 12 and hang a left on BPA. At the junction with BPA and Firelane 13, stay right to begin the BPA descent.
This descent is a quad-buster. It's steep and sustained, growing steeper as you get closer to its end. Stay right at the bottom to connect with Newton Road. It's always interesting how much longer Newton Road feels when you have to climb up it. Take Newton all the way back up to the Newton parking lot and cross the parking lot to Firelane 10. Take Firelane 10 all the way down. Unlike the other routes, we will stay straight as the Firelane curves right and head onto Linnton trail to get even more nasty descending.
At the trailhead, take a right onto the pedestrian path. In a few hundred feet we will take the staircase on our right and head up to Wilark Ave. Take Wilark past Hoge Ave and then take the sharp right to head back to Firelane 9. Firelane 9, you will remember, is fairly mild at its base, but pitches up quite steeply. The good news is that this steep of a grade tends to shed water fast, so it's never too muddy at it's steepest section. After a 100 or so feet it briefly flattens and then begins to climb a bit more at a lower grade. This section has a higher tendency to be a slop fest. Finally Firelane 9 flattens as you are nearing the gate and the end of your run.
No adventure is complete without some celebratory food and drink. We've included a few of our favorite spots in the area to check out post-run.
|Cathedral Coffee (St. Johns)
|Skyline Restaurant (Skyline Blvd.)
|Urban German/Occidental (St. Johns)