Wildwood Trail: Done in a Day!

Awakening at O’dark-thirty on Saturday morning (actually 4:30am), I set off to fulfill my goal to day hike the entire Wildwood trail in Portland, OR, totaling just a hair over 30 miles. Given that none of my family members could even be bothered with this quest, I set out on my own, driving to the “trail head” at Newberry Rd (actually the road side), plugging in my iPod and hittin’ the trail.

Wildwood mileage log

Calling this section “preparation” is probably not quite appropriate, given that this hike was actually nothing short of a whim. I started “planning” yesterday afternoon after I returned from work. The weather forecast indicated clear skies with a temperature of 92 degrees. The day would start cool and hit the peak around 5pm, giving me a window that I could use. Key items in my kit included:

  • Jam 2 pack
  • 1 3-liter water bladder (water is scarce and sketchy on the trail)
  • 2 1-liter platypus bottles for refilling my bladder later on the trail
  • Lumix LX-3 camera
  • Grub consisting of 3 Honey Stinger Energy Gels, 2 Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews, 1 Probar, 1 Mini Cliff Bar, and a package of GORP
  • Clothing worn consisted of a Patagonia Merino 2 shirt, REI Sahara Shorts, and Keen Newport H2 Sandals (w/merino socks–I know . . . LAME)

Total weight for this venture totaled 15 lbs, mostly of consumables. I figured that I could likely average 3 miles/hr on the trail given it’s relatively flat elevation profile (outside of the ~700 feet of elevation gain from the stone house to Pittock Mansion), getting me from start to finish in 10 hours.

The Hike:
Due to some navigational opportunities in the dark, I hit the trail @ 5:30am, after nearly heading to Cornelius Pass. Breakfast consisted of a blackberry fruit pie, now that I’ve completely shunned dry oatmeal (for obvious reasons).

This s**t was dark

Given that lack of light, I had to search for the 30-mile marker, not knowing it was above the first bridge on the trail. This afforded me with an opportunity to double-back a bit.

Kali-ma! The elusive 30-mile marker!

Fortunately the lighting improved greatly by 6am as I started my hike along Newton Rd on the way to the Germantown Rd trailhead. The trail here is extremely sheltered, affording beautiful views of the park/forest with only occasional fire lanes, BPA roads, etc.

A kewl tree along the trail, suitable for a hobbit

I reached Germantown Rd @ around 7:27am, knocking-off the first 6 miles in pretty rapid fashion. I encountered my first runner with a dog at this time (note: this would not be my last), exchanging a polite “hello.” This was an interesting PDX people study. Very few individuals (or groups) that I encountered on the trail said anything to me, which was kind of funny. It’s not really surprising as trail runners, at minimum, in PDX tend to be focused on themselves and not much else!

Sign @ Germantown Rd with a sad reminder of the missing Kyron Horman

Germantown road is one of the nicest trailheads at the park with ample parking and a big color sign with the slogan “Wildwood Trail at Germantown Road: Into the Wild.” Hopefully I would fare better than the protagonist of the novel of the same name; I would have to see.

This next section would take past several more fire lanes, gas and oil lanes, power lines, and various park trails including the Hardesty and Trillium. I passed “Saltzman Rd,” which was humorous as there was no signage nor indication of this being a road at all. On the phone with McLovin at the time, we pegged my progress @ 13 miles, not realizing until I hit the Koenig trail that I was, in actuality, nearly 16 miles in. I hit firelane 3 at 10:43am, bringing my total to 16.5 miles in just over 5 hours.

Firelane 3, whoop-dee-freaking-dee

At approximately 17 miles on the trail, it was time for a quick break for some foot maintenance not because I was particularly hating it, but because I would be travelling further than I’d ever hiked before in a single day (previous record was about 23 miles or so–Franken or McLovin can correct me here if I’ve misrepresented). I applied some Glide to my feet, grubbed a Probar and paused to capture a self-portrait on the trail. I hit the trail again at about 11am.

My feet are actually looking pretty good, albeit dirty

Hang loose, brah!

This next section would eventually take me to known areas of the trail, starting with the Wild Cherry trail where I’ve hiked with my son. That was a mere 5 miles away from my present location. I would pass firelane 2, the Chestnut and Nature trails, firelane 1, Alder trail, and Dogwood before reaching this location. By this point, I’d consumed 3 liters of water and stopped at the first trail bench in a long while to pour the contents of my Platipi into my bladder for easy access. I had travelled 22+ miles and grubbed nearly all of my food by this point, which was good. The time was approximately 12:30pm.

A beautiful section of trail along this portion

"The maples are too lofty and grab up all our light"

I set my sights on the Stone House at this point, which was ~3 miles from my present location and only 5.5 miles from the Zoo. This is a popular trail destination from Macleay park. I reached this location at 1:22pm, giving me 1.5 hours to reach my rendezvous location at the zoo at 2:45. I was feeling, at this point, rather worn to say the least and knew that I would have to really suck it up to be able to maintain my pace on the hilliest section of the Wildwood.

Not a single Trog joined me at the Stone House

I pushed up the ~700ft elevation from Stone House to Pittock Mansion, passing a huge number of hikers and their pets on the trail. The temperature at this time was in the high eighties, so I broke a nice sweat as I climbed the switchbacks leading to the top. I took zero time to pause at the parking lot which was unsurprisingly full of cars, and sped down the other side, reaching Burnside Rd. which I found to be the busiest road on the entire trail. I hit a crease perfectly, running across to reach the Arboretum.

Given that this section of the trail has been covered nearly weekly this year on our Friday hikes, I won’t go into great detail here other than to say that the weather, although hot, was perfect affording great views of the surrounding area.

Splendid views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier

All things said, I arrived at the Wildwood trail sign at the zoo @ 2:43pm. My total time on trail was 9 hours 14 minutes for 30+ miles.

Photographic evidence of my arrival time!

Total mileage of 33.58 miles as per my watch (approximately 3.3 miles overstated)

Final Observations:

  • I finished this hike @ 3.33 miles/hour or 18 minute miles
  • Although not really clear from other sources on the web, it’s easy to park at Newbury Rd as long as you arrive early. There’s easily space for 10 cars at the “trailhead.”
  • This is a beautiful trail and a must-do for anyone who wants to see the beauty of unspoiled forests from within the city limits
  • I brought about the perfect mix of gear, food and water for this hike in warm weather
  • I’m now a firm believer in sandal hiking. For 30 miles on the trail my feet ended up in great shape. This will likely be my footwear of choice for the Wonderland Trail in September.
  • The Merino 2 tee is killer, keeping me cool and rather stink free!

Here’s a great source for topographic maps on the web, courtesy of the Art of Geography.

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7 Responses to Wildwood Trail: Done in a Day!

  1. McLovin says:

    Not only a great accomplishment, but a high quality post my friend. You pimped it for sure! I’m inspired to investigate sandal hiking myself, probably not prior to the WLT but certainly thereafter…until frozen feet season sets in! Looking forward to rocking this with you next year; would enjoy a section hike in unexplored territory but it appears our usual route provides the key vertical. Congrats Ploss: thruhiker!

  2. mariko says:

    Congrats on doing the whole route! I happened upon the post while googling for information on the WW trailhead access from Newberry Rd. I’m planning to run out there this weekend but have shamefully never been out to that end of Wildwood. Can you tell me how far up Newberry from Hwy 30 I have to drive to access the trailhead? Is it confusing? I am not finding any helpful maps. Thanks!

    • ploss says:


      Totally agree. It was brutal finding any directions to the trailhead on NW Newbury Rd. It’s about 2/3 of the length of NW Newbury Rd (probably 2 miles or so) — per google maps, it’s right around 13886 NW Newbury Rd. If you bring it up on street view, you’ll see a bunch of cars parked on the side.

      Enjoy. That’s a beautiful section of the park!

  3. Do you have a Runkeeper or Map My Run profile of this hike? My friend and I are considering doing it this summer. I did the Sandia Mountains hike in Albuquerque last summer which is 26.5 miles. Oregon’s trails are a lot better kept so I think I’d like to try this one. I want to know what the elevation profile looks like so I can appropriately prepare. Thanks!

  4. There are all kinds of options for loops if you do not have a person to pick you up

    Nice trip report

  5. Don B says:

    I just hiked the 30 miles of Wildwood alone on 7-25-15 and were surprised to find no benches to sit down on for almost 15 miles. From the bench .4 miles north of Germantown Rd. to Firelane 1 (almost 15 miles) there are no benches. Just to let folks know, so they are prepared. When I started, I thought there would be benches the whole way. (I know there are a lot at the south end of the trail) I hit the first bench @ Firelane 15 and the second .4 before Germantown… then no benches for almost 15 miles. I left Newberry Rd. @ 6:00 and got to the zoo @ 11:00 (17 hours). Now I know what to expect. Great hike. I am going to do this hike again this Saturday 8-22-15 with a friend.

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