Council Crest Park has several trails and elevates hikers to the highest point within Portland’s city limits at 1,073 feet above sea level. Hikers and history buffs alike will appreciate visiting Council Crest, where one of the nation’s oldest tram lines once ran from the city up to Council Crest Amusement Park. The park shut down in 1929, though the Ferris wheel, observation tower and other amusement park attractions remained until 1950; tram service had stopped running up Council Crest the year before.
Council Crest is best accessed from Southwest Vista Drive if coming from Downtown or Northwest Portland. Southwest Council Crest Drive also runs from Southwest Portland through the park and west to Cedar Hills.
Council Crest Amusement Park is no more, but the modern Council Crest Park still offers visitors splendid views of the city and on a clear day, hikers will be treated to a eastern view of mountain ranges, forest land and all of Portland. Council Crest’s elevation means increased exposure to precipitation and colder air—dress appropriately before trekking nearly a quarter-mile above Portland, especially on a rainy day.
Council Crest features plenty of park area, including places that allow for dogs off the leash as long as owners clean up after their canines. Kids are sure to enjoy the sights from such a height, and there are various public art works and picnic areas throughout Council Crest. There is also a wedding area that may be reserved for ceremonies; Council Crest is the perfect romantic spot for Portland’s nature-loving couples!
Several trails exist in and around Council Crest, with multiple starting points for hikes to the summit. The area features plenty of incline and the natural canopy of the forest provides decent rain shelter. This, however, makes the hiking zones dark earlier than the rest of the area, especially in the winter months; be certain to prepare accordingly when taking to this sprawling hike, as getting lost is easy whereas finding the main roads and paths again is not.
Overall, Council Crest is sure to appeal to hikers in the Northwest Portland who don’t mind a short commute through Portland. The reward—majestic views of the Columbia Gorge, the Willamette River, Portland and so much more—make the trek to the summit worthwhile, and the exercise isn’t too shabby either.