Heading to the zoo? Surprisingly the trail part of the 4T although going through in the middle of Portland goes mostly through quiet scenic woods away from dwellings and traffic. The trail goes up to Council Crest where you will have great views before descending to the zoo. You have a choice of routes. The following map shows the urban route; a map for the forest route is below.
The hike covers either 3.5 or 4.1 miles, and takes between an two and three hours, depending on if you take the Urban Route or the Forest Trail. Be prepared to climb between 600 feet (urban route) and 900 feet (forest route). Much of the hike is on trails through the woods which can be muddy in wet weather. Neither water nor restrooms are available on the trail. A part of the trail is along the shoulder of roads and although these roads are not heavily traveled, some parents with small children have been concerned.
OHSU to SW Gibbs and SW 9th
Exit the Tram and walk straight through the Kohler Pavilion to the stairs on the far end, about 300 feet. Restrooms are on the right just outside the Tram entrance, and coffee is available on your left near the far exit. Seniors get a significant discount for coffee.
Walk past the wall mounted interpretive sign at the bus stop and follow the brown 4T trail signs uphill on Sam Jackson Park Road to signs telling you to cross to the sidewalk other side.
Note that there are two different signs for the 4T: one is marked “4T trail”, while the other is denoted by numbered SW Trails signs plus the familiar 4T logo. Proceed up the street until you see the interpretive sign at 9th and Gibbs.
At this point choose the Forest Trail or on the Urban Route. The Forest Trail ascends the hill through a lush forest but is a half mile longer. Since the trail first goes down 300 feet in elevation through the Marquam Nature Park, you will have to climb regain this elevation to get to Council Crest.
The shorter and more direct Urban Route follows neighborhood streets with no sidewalks and involves less climbing. Some of the park is visible from these streets.
To take the strenuous 2.2 mile long Forest Route, take a right and follow SW 9th one block north to the entrance of the Connor Trail. Follow that trail down the hill to the Shelter Marquam trail. The Shelter trail is as large as a road. Turn right and proceed about 150 yards down to the Marquam interpretive shelter.
You will find a 4T interpretive sign at the Marquam Shelter. Proceed up the valley going west along the north-facing slope, following the green 4T signs. You will cross two streets on this segment of the trail, SW Sherwood and SW Fairmount .
Note that some homeowners adjacent to the park have eliminated non native invasive plants from their yards. Signs in their yards designate them as certified backyard habitats. It is very difficult to remove English Ivy from these natural areas, a concerted effort by homeowners and local land conservancy groups have collaborated to rid significant areas of this noxious invasive plant.
The Urban route travels 1.6 miles along paved residential streets, but there are no sidewalks so be cautious about traffic!
To take it, follow the brown 4T signs which continue ascending SW Gibbs, which becomes Marquam Hill Road as the road rounds a bend. Walk along Marquam Hill Road until it intersects with Fairmount Blvd. Turn right, following the signs for the 4T, almost all of which are SW Trails/4T signs.
SW Trails is a citizen-led organization that promotes pedestrian and bicycle facilities in hilly Southwest Portland. SW Trails has built seven Urban Trails in SW Portland and you will be walking on segments of three of these trails during this hike.
When you reach Fairmount Blvd., turn right and walk along the downhill side of the street as it is not safe to walk against traffic where there is no space.
After about .5 mile, you will come to the 4T interpretive sign that marks the junction where the Urban Route reconnects with the Forest Route.
At this point turn left and follow the green 4T signs up the Marquam Trail as it traverses the hillside. Along the way the trail crosses SW Greenway on its ascent to Council Crest at the summit.
On a clear day from Council Crest you can see Mt. Hood in one direction, Mt. St. Helens in another (with Mt. Rainer peeking over the edge of Mt. St. Helens), and Mt. Adams in a third direction. Council Crest was at one time reached by a cable car (a predecessor of the tram) and by trolley and was the site for an amusement park.
Council Crest to Marquam Hill Trail on SW Patton.
From the round plaza at the summit of Council Crest, exit from the gap at the north end and walk around the big green water tank. The paved path leads to a circular roadway with a sidewalk on the outer side.
Cross the roadway and follow that sidewalk to your left. There is a great view of the Tualatin Valley to the west.
Continue south until the green 4T signs point you onto a paved path leading downhill. Follow it until you come to the intersection of 5 streets. Proceed straight ahead (north) onto SW Talbot Road.
Talbot Road bends to the left and then swings right and intersects Patton Road, next to a gas station. If you need to use a lavatory, the gas station has facilities.
Marquam Trail down from SW Patton to Highway 26
Cross SW Patton and then turn east (right) crossing SW Humphrey and walk downhill on the north side of SW Patton about 100 feet.
Here you will encounter a small trail that descends from the shoulder of SW Patton into the forested hillside below. Look carefully as the start to this trail is somewhat hard to see.
Proceed down this lovely path for about a half mile until it emerges alongside an on- ramp to Highway 26.
Cross Highway 26 to the Zoo station for the Max
Turn left out of the woods onto the on-ramp and walk along it to the bridge that spans Highway 26. Take care crossing the on-ramp because cars here may not be expecting pedestrians.
Cross the bridge and continue along the sidewalk on the right side of the street following the brown 4T Trail signs. Follow the Marquam Trail up the hillside until you arrive at the lower end of a large parking lot.
After about 400 yards, you will come to the entrance to the Oregon Zoo on your right. There is a restaurant and bathrooms just inside the zoo entrance which can be used without paying a fee to enter the zoo.
Cross the parking lot to reach the sidewalk that circles the entire complex of buildings and parking lots. Follow this sidewalk along the western (left) side of this parking lot.
After passing the Forest Discovery Museum and the big black locomotive, you will see a squat stone structure at the upper end of the parking.
Zoo Train station
This is the Les Aucoin Plaza and the Max Washington Park/Zoo Station. Follow the signs up to the entrance to the elevators.
There are bathrooms located at the east end of the Aucoin Plaza, near the elevators.
The next leg of the 4T is taking the MAX train to downtown Portland.