Portland’s 4T Trail

Trail, Tram, Trolley and Train! Portland’s 4T Trail is one of the best ways to get to know the city, via three modes of public transportation […]

Trail, Tram, Trolley and Train! Portland’s 4T Trail is one of the best ways to get to know the city, via three modes of public transportation [OHSU aerial tramway/gondola, Portland streetcar (trolley), the TriMet MAX light rail (train)], and your own feet (trail).

We take advantage of a particularly gorgeous May day to do the route a second time, nearly a year after first completing the trail on our wedding anniversary. While the weather and trail conditions are nearly identical to last June, something is quite different this time around.

The trail is a loop, so you can start/end at any point. Since we’re hoofing it from home, we’re starting in Goose Hollow today. But not before a quick breakfast stop.

We like to take this shaded alley from King’s Hill down into Goose Hollow, which dumps you out a block away from the Goose Hollow Inn.

We grab a breakfast burrito (and I get a cold brew) at Fehrenbacher Hof, a neighborhood favorite for coffee and stuff.

After enjoying our breakfast al fresco, we walk across the street to catch the MAX, Portland’s light rail and the “Train” portion of the four Ts.

We actually skipped this first step last year, which ended up making the “Trail” part of our day nine miles instead of four. By the time we completed the loop, our feet were protesting pretty loudly. So this time, we thought we’d try and stick closer to the spirit of the activity and do all four Ts.

For some reason, I always forget to take pictures of the crucial transportation components of this hike, so I’ve included some stock photos of the MAX, and later on the Portland street car, for those many of you who have never been here.

Photo credit: Finetooth (wikimedia commons).

We take the MAX one stop from Goose Hollow to the Washington Park (Portland Zoo) station. At 260 feet underground, it is the deepest transit station in North America and one of the deepest in the world. While the elevator ride takes 25 seconds, the distance in geological time is about 16 million years.

After leaving the Washington Park station, we use the overpass to cross Highway 26 and hook on to the Marquam Trail about half way down the eastbound onramp. From here, it’s about a four mile hike to the upper tram terminal at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) via Council Crest park.

We stop for about twenty minutes at Council Crest to enjoy the view of downtown and the Cascade mountain range. At this point, we’ve gained about 1,000 feet from our apartment. From here, you can see Mt. Rainier, St. Helens, Adams and Hood. Below, you can barely see Mt. Adams peaking out in the center of the photo.

Built-in cupholder!

Mt. St. Helens off to the north.

Hood off to the east.

One year ago. Notice anything different?

How about now?

Yep! You’re absolutely right, quite a bit more snow on the mountain this year. Very observant!

Now, if you were standing here a hundred year ago, this is what Council Crest would have looked like:

Just slightly different.

And here’s a banana slug. Our visitors love these guys. We’ve seen ones longer than Lori’s foot. Lori’s feet are pretty small, but still, those are huge slugs!


We like to do the route counter-clockwise because we save on tram fare. It’s technically $4.50 for a roundtrip ticket, but there are only ticket machines at the bottom station. I guess they (rightly) assume who goes up must come down — that is, unless you are doing the 4T. So going down ends up being free.

From Council Crest we hook back onto the trail and follow the signs to Marquam Shelter.



A random (and functioning) old bubbler greets hikers along the way.




The Marquam trail dumps you on the OHSU campus, where you must wind your way through one of the hospital buildings to the upper tram terminal. Not a bad view to greet the end of your workday at OHSU.

Here we go!

Next stop: South Waterfront.

Lower tram terminal with the upper tram terminal viewable in the distance.

Now becoming a tradition, we stop at Little Big Burger in the South Waterfront neighborhood. Love them burgers, truffle fries and special sauce. And who can’t resist a fast-food burger joint that sells beer!

That smile doesn’t lie — we are excited and HUNGRY. Well, I am, at least. Crazy stuff you learn as a father-to-be — #164: Pregnant women aren’t always hungry! In fact, sometimes they eat even less than they did pre-pregnancy. Or at least this is true for Lori right now. Baby’s all crowded up in her stomach, apparently. That’ll change when baby drops, I’m sure, but for now, she’s 100% content with the granola bar she ate about 30 minutes ago, a half bag of truffle fries, and a Root Beer float. And I’m very happy about my burger, fries and beer.




Yep, we’re definitely in Portland…

To complete the 4T, the next step after the tram ride is hopping on to the streetcar (trolley) in South Waterfront.

Photo credit: Steve Morgan (wikimedia commons).

Today, however, we’re both feeling good and decide to skip the streetcar and walk it back home — an additional 2.5 miles from South Waterfront back up to King’s Hill/ Goose Hollow.

There’s something always very satisfying about passing cars stuck on the freeway during rush hour with your own two feet.


We made it!

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