As a rule, running in Portland during the rainy season will require that you get muddy. Very very muddy. And since Portland’s rainy season is fairly extended, embracing the idea of getting covered in mud every time you hit a trail is the best way to start enjoying Portland’s abundant running options.
Our nominee for “Muddiest Place in Portland Where Hot Girls Like to Run” is Forest Park, located in the hills west of downtown. The park is the “largest forested natural area within city limits” in the United States, which translates to a huge variety of running trails and multiple points of access throughout the western edge of Portland’s downtown; allowing you to run from Portland’s city core, to a quiet, verdant forest in less than 10 minutes. Because of the dense forest, and Portland’s abundant rain, the trail system in Forest Park gets muddy and stays muddy for a while, making for rather messy jaunts. Working through the mud is well worth the effort, as the trails here are some of the best and most scenic in Portland. For the most part, nothing in the park becomes too impassable; foot placement and a towel in the car are the keys.
The trails within Forest Park are almost all single track, and wind throughout more than 5,000 acres, making learning the trails a fairly difficult task. We have often started a run only to find ourselves inadvertently looping back to the same spots. The key to figuring out the trails is the Wildwood Trail, a 30 mile trail that runs the entire North to South length of the park. Most trails branch off of the Wildwood, making it a good foundation for extended loops. Another good foundation is Leif Erickson Drive, which is a intermittently paved road that runs north 11.2 miles from the Thurman Street entrance to its terminus at Germantown Road, paralleling the Wildwood Trail for much of its length.
Unfortunately our mapping abilities fail us in the dense forests, so until we are up an running with a more GPS centric method, we leave you with links to maps (bad maps – again, we apologize). We have, however, outlined the general park area and have provided links for maps and various trailhead/park entry points. There are parking lots near the entry points, however, during peak times (morning, late afternoon) they fill up fast, so be prepared to park in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Friends of Forest Park Maps (very basic)
Topo Map (giant PDF file)