There are only four words to describe the 4T Trail — tranquil, thrilling, triumphant, and terrific.
Well, we suppose trolley, train, trail and tram would work too, since those are the modes of transportation you take on this unique circuit around Portland.
Since its official ribbon-cutting in 2009, traversing the 4T has been a bucket list achievement for local hikers — one worthy of souvenir patches.
Before you go
You can start your adventure anywhere on the loop and travel in either direction. Allow three to five hours for the trip, depending on your pace, coffee breaks, and the public transportation schedule. Bathrooms and drinking fountains are located at various points along the way, and parking fees will vary depending on where you start. And as always, dress for the weather.
Head to the South Waterfront’s OHSU Plaza streetcar station, purchase a $5 TriMet day pass, and catch the North/South Line to ride into downtown. Hop off at the Central Library station and walk one block to the Galleria/Southwest 10th Avenue MAX Light Rail station.
From there, take either the Red or Blue line west to Washington Park, which happens to be the deepest transit station in the western hemisphere at 260 ft below the surface. Don’t worry about your legs — there’s an elevator.
From the Oregon Zoo, you can walk over US Route 26 to get on the Marquam Trail, which climbs up through woods and neighborhoods to reach Council Crest Park, the highest point in the city. From there, it’s literally all downhill, as the path winds to Oregon Health & Science University. Follow the 4T signs — routes can vary from 3.95 to 4.5 miles.
There are no one-way tickets available here, so a ride will cost you $5.65, but the phenomenal vista of Mount Hood is your reward. Make sure to check the operating hours (it’s closed Sundays).
At the end, odds are you’ll be tired with a capital T.