By Joann Goodsell
Are you looking for a local area to hike that is very beautiful; can be challenging (but not too challenging); and also has picnic areas, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts?
I rediscovered Mt. Tabor Park earlier this year while preparing a field trip for a class I teach.
The park has numerous trails, many interconnected and range in difficulty from easy to moderate to difficult. Some trails are paved and some are not. The park is mostly forested, but offers beautiful views of Portland from the summit.
Some of the trails are marked to indicate the difficulty of the terrain. Red is for easy; green is moderate; and blue indicates difficult terrain. There is an organized hike for each color or you can create your own route mixing the difficulties. The hike for the red trail is 1 mile; the green is 1.7 miles, and the blue is 3 miles long. Bikes can use the red and blue trails. The park includes an off-leash area for dogs.
Mt. Tabor Park dates back to 1894 when the City of Portland built two open water reservoirs as part of the City’s water system. While the park had four open water reservoirs at one time, there are currently only three open and an additional underground tank with a capacity of 200,000 gallons of water. Mt Tabor is situated on an extinct volcanic butte (cinder cone). A bronze statue of Harvey W. Scott (editor of The Oregonian from 1865-1872 and from 1877 until his death in 1910) is at the summit of the park. It was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum who also sculpted Mt. Rusmore. The park and reservoirs have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An easy entry to the park is from SE 60th and Salmon. The park is closed to motor vehicles all day every Wednesday. A brochure outlining the three organized trails can be picked up from the main parking area near the picnic tables and playground.