Portland Urban Hike: Day 0
As I write this, I’m on a plane from Denver to Portland to begin a 210+ mile urban hike of the city of Portland. The Rose City has been my home away from home (and the trail) for the past few years and people have been telling me pretty much from the moment I started urban hiking that I need to walk it. Starting tomorrow, I will begin a 210+ mile traverse of the city over 13 days.
The City’s reverence for the pedestrian (and cyclist) is legendary. I haven’t even started the urban thru, and I am already blown away from the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s incredibly detailed and thorough walk/bike maps (seen in photos below). These maps are free, in full color, and PBOT even paid the shipping to mail them to me in Denver for my planning (and I ordered them online without even having to talk to anyone!). I highly recommend them to anyone who lives in the city, is visiting, or works as a city planner or pedestrian advocate. For the Portland hike, I’m expecting safe walking, respectful drivers, and lots of fun hidden pedestrian paths.
Distinct from my urban stairway walks elsewhere, the Portland trip is designed to highlight more than stairs. This trip will include:
- 196 public stairways (plus a dozen more citizen-maintained stairways not on the list)
- 9 bridges
- 80 Benson Bubblers (Portland’s iconic street-corner drinking fountain)
- All 5 quadrants (yes, although “quad” means 4, Portland has an extra)
- Large portions of the Springwater Trail and Wildwood Trail (designated as a National Recreation Trail)
- All of the volcanoes (Mt. Tabor and Rocky Butte, as well Powell Butte and Kelly Butte—Portland is the most volcanic city in North America)
- All of Portland’s intersection murals
- All the public Fountains on the Fountain tour
- Most of the public art listed on the PDOT’s maps
- Numerous heritage trees
- Almost 2 dozen nights staying with supportive friends enthused in this walking experiment
- Two talks about my experience walking Portland at two Portland iconic gear stores. I speak at Next Adventure on March 14th and at the Mountain Shop on March 29th.
Also unlike my other urban hikes, this Portland hike is designed to be replicate-able for someone of relatively physical fitness interested in walking or biking in the city. Mileages for each day range from 8-18 miles per day (much more reasonable than the 35’s I pulled in Los Angeles). The goal is that each day could be replicated by other hikers using public transit to access the start and finish.
Similar to the urban hike of Seattle, I hope to post daily logs of my journey and what I find. Miguel “Virgo” Aguilar will be hiking with me and filming the experience, so we hope to also have video to inspires others to explore the city.
Liz "Snorkel" Thomas
Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States. While not on trail, Liz lives in Denver, Colorado.