Nestled in the West Hills of Portland, Council Crest Park sits at an elevation of 1,073 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in the city the finish for a short, intense climb that can be easily reached from the heart of downtown (which sits at about 50 feet above sea level). The Council Crest Climb winds from Portland’s waterfront through the West Hills, passing numerous neighborhoods and providing great views of downtown and the Cascades. Gaining over 1,000 feet in less than four miles makes this ride a good warm up, or a good end to the workday. One of the best features of this ride is that it provides easy access to the West Hill rides in the area, avoiding the higher speed NW Cornell Road access point.
While the ride is easily accessible from downtown, navigating the twisting roads of Portland to get to the top can be difficult. Traffic is usually fairly moderate, but some of the roads are narrow enough to cause some anxiety. However, the speed limit(s) for most of the ride is low and most people are aware that cyclists frequent the area. The somewhat sketchy part of the ride is through downtown, which gets packed with cards during the rush hours;. generally the roads are wide enough to not be too much of a problem, but there is definitely some high traffic urban biking required.
Do it because: short, incredibly accessible and intense, the climb is a great quick workout or a solid warmup to longer rides in the Northwest Hills.
Distance: 3.75 miles from start to summit
Directions: From downtown Portland (SW Naito Parkway at SW Taylor Street) head west on SW Taylor (toward the hills), cross over the 405 Highway and then take a left on SW 15th Ave (PGE Park should be right in front of you), and then a right on SW Salmon St. Salmon Street climbs fairly steeply up a short hill (this is a narrow road, be careful here) before it deadends at SW King Ave. Take a right and then an immediate left onto SW Park Place, west 2 blocks and then a left onto SW Vista Ave. You are going to stay on Vista as it runs through an “S” curve and then climbs up a relatively steep hill. Near the top of this straight stretch you will come to a light (at Spring Street and Vista); continue straight where Vista will veer slightly right up another relatively steep hill (be careful staying on Vista at this point, there is a lot of traffic). Remain on Vista until you eventually wind to a stop sign (the interesction of Vista and SW Broadway Drive). Take a right at the stop sign, and then an immediate left onto SW Greenway Avenue (this is a sketchy intersection, lots of traffic, so be careful). SW Greenway will basically take you the rest of the way up to the park (it turns into SW Council Crest Drive right before the summit).
Wooo!! Lots of directions, but you only need to do it once or twice to get pretty comfortable with it. We typically take SW Greenway back down to SW Broadway which we take back to downtown.
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