Portland 4T Trail

Portland 4T Trail: Address, Portland 4T Trail Reviews: 4.5/5

Portland 4T Trail
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48 reviews
Very good

Portland, OR277 contributions
Aug 2018 • Friends
Just did the 4T trail today while we had visitors in town. It's a fun loop transitioning between the forest and the city, but if you just follow each leg of the trail, it's really just a long walk followed by various forms of transportation without much sightseeing. So we added a few T's... like Tavern and (food)Truck to the mix.

If you start at the zoo, you'll be immediately confused. 4T signs are pointing back towards each other because you can do the loop in either direction. So if you start at the zoo looking for the hiking trail, head straight across to the Childrens museum and follow signs from there that direct you across Hwy 26 to the trailhead. Everything is well marked from there UNTIL you get to the OHSU parking lot where there's nothing to guide you to the tram. Head down the hill to the main entrance of the hospital, go inside and then signs to the Tram are easy to follow. The tram ride is quick but impressive, with incredible views of the city!! At the base, you catch the streetcar just around the corner. The 4-sided 4T trail sign posts are actually very helpful with exact directions given for each portion of the "T" you are on. Read those to know where to exit the streetcar and where to find the next point on the loop. It's a bit of a scavenger hunt as you use these signs for clues. You get off the street car at the City Library exit and there you are, right by the iconic Portland food trucks. If that's not your scene, take time in the city to walk a few more blocks to the Pearl district (12th & Couch) and meander around for a good place to each or hit a tavern or have a taco, making it more of a 6T experience. Wander wherever, just remembering to get back at some point to the MAX train westbound which boards at 10th & Morrison to get you back to the zoo.

Overall, it's a very cool loop through Portland which encompasses beautiful forested walking trails and then boom -- you're in the heart of the city! But if you just do each segment without pause, you're not experiencing much except various modes of transportation. Also, the hiking portion is not terribly difficult, it can be challenging with many uphills at times. The first 1.2 miles from the zoo is entirely uphill. Wear sturdy shoes or sandals. After that uphill segment, it's ENTIRELY downhill for 1.7 miles, followed by a short uphill to OHSU. Do the math. I wouldn't want to do the 4T the other direction (OHSU back to the zoo) unless you want MORE major uphill hiking.

Allow 4-6 hours so you don't feel rushed.
Written August 21, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Rob M
San Antonio, TX59 contributions
Jul 2015 • Friends
First my beef... The "trolley" is not really a trolley (More like a european tram or a light rail) the "Tram" is the aerial tram, and the "Train" is a light rail (Not being self-powered)... but other than some semantics this is a really fun trip.

I started with my wife and sister downtown and took the Max/Train to the Zoo. The Portland Zoo is one of my favorites. Lions and cougars and bears oh my! The new elephant exhibit isn't open yet but looks awesome!!

Then we took the trail (It's a lot of up and down so be prepared, and it really is a 5mi hike). The views from the highest point in Portland are fantastic and on the hot day we went, the shade of the forest was well received. You pop up behind the medical center which is a beautiful hospital complex and then take the aerial tram down the hill. This aerial tram is not for the faint of heart. The last 100yards or so are a pretty steep decline and can be a little exciting (read as swinging). Then you pick up the "Trolley" which is really just another version of a light rail and it drops you off in downtown.

Recommendation: Do this version of the route and finish at Deschutes brewery or Rogue Brewery in downtown for a few beers and great food. They are very close to the "trolley lines. "

Cost: If you follow the route I suggested which is basically counter-clockwise (Coming Down the aerial tram, it's a free trip). If you go UP the aerial tram you have to pay. And then if you get an all-day pass for Max (Train/lightrail) it covers the Trolley too. And then of course the zoo costs but you don't HAVE to do the zoo to do the 4T... although I'd recommend it.

Cautions: This is a good all day trip. I logged 10mi of walking between the hike and the Zoo. Also in high winds the Aerial Tram can sometimes be shut-down so be aware of that in bad weather.
Written August 1, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Paul M
Dallas, TX139 contributions
Sep 2019
I chose to go counter clockwise and started downtown with the $5 MAX daily max pass that takes you to the zoo. The only issue, is that I had to keep the alltrails map open to find the trail once I got to the zoo, but once you are a 1/4mile in it's mostly easy to stay on the trail. going this direction has about 1500ft elevation change mostly up front. This is about a 3 hours hike. The trail through the hospital to get to the sky lift/tram is creative. The walk through the forested sections is cool even in the summer. Two hints, when you arrive at the zoo, the path is south and towards the entrance to the zoo, stay on the side walk, go past the entrance and down the hill, stay left when the main road turns at the bottom of hill and hike left over the bridge/highway, turn left on the service road for about 100 ft and main trail head is on the left. At the hospital parking lot when you exit the trail at the top of the hill, walk south through the parking lot and make a left on the main road, go about 200 ft and look for the white building on your right with a sign that say Tram. enter and follow the Tram signs though the building. At the bottom there are about a dozen restaurants should you be hungry.
Written September 15, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Doug S
Escondido, CA131 contributions
May 2018 • Solo
This hike is a great way to get moderate exercise, spend some time outdoors, and explore Portland's transit options.

I strongly recommend viewing an online map first, so you know you're on-course. There is signage, but you have to look for it.

I started from the zoo. This is one of the more confusing trail segments. When the sidewalk ends, walk across the road and the highway overpass. Take a left turn, and walk down the shoulder of the highway on-ramp. Have faith, you're on course! You'll see the trailhead ascend from the right side of the on-ramp.

The first part of the trail is moderately steep, but is nicely forested. It ascends to a short segment on the road, before the trail continues to an urban park with a nice view of downtown. Then you have to search for another trail marker to continue downhill. Follow the trail signage when you cross a road, unless you want to walk along a narrow shoulder.

The last half-mile to OHSU is pretty steep, but doable. Finding the tram entrance is a little confusing, but there's a large map of the hospital campus you can use to orient yourself. There are a couple of small cafes inside the hospital, if you need food / drink.

After you take the tram downhill, check the street names to make sure you find the right trolley stop. There are two nearby stops - only one of them goes directy downtown - the other loops slightly away from downtown before turning around. From downtown, you can take the light rail back to the zoo, if you parked there.

You can complete the hike in a couple of hours, or take longer if you spend time at the viewpoint.

Overall, it's a nice urban hike.
Written May 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Denver, CO201 contributions
Aug 2016 • Couples
Surprised by all these great reviews. As a couple we travel and explore and are very outdoorsy. The 4t is embarrassingly bad.

The train offers nothing to see.

The zoo we did not participate in so it is not part of this review.

The trails are broken up and poorly marked in some areas. Using several maps (one picked up at visitors center near the zoo) and our own app still managed to get us lost once. The trails are very wooded with no views.

Council Crest Park has significantly obstructed views rendering the 360 degree vantage point more like a 40 degree vantage point.

The tram is poorly marked and in the middle of a HOSPITAL complex. Getting to the tram involved navigating our way through hospital wings. Talk about odd.

We opted not to take the trolley and walked back to pioneer square.

We both looked at each other and said well that was a waste of 1/2 a day.
Written August 17, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

David G
Portland, OR83 contributions
Jul 2016 • Family
We did the 4T Trail this weekend, which includes a 4.5 mile hike (Trail), a ride on the Ariel Tram, a ride on the streetcar (or Trolley), and a ride on the Max Train. The whole thing makes a big loop and take 4+ hours. Most of the time involved is for the hike, which is a little challenging. I recommend parking at the zoo and starting the 4T with the hike, then you can enjoy the rides for the rest of the trip. We also took time to get some food and do a little shopping along the way so our trip took 4 1/2 hours.

We really had fun with this and if you're looking for a half day activity in Portland, this is it. Or make a full day of it--you can do what we did and take time to look around at the end of each leg. For example, you could include a visit to the zoo or Childrens Museum near the zoo, you can shop downtown, you can relax at the top of the hike and enjoy the view.
Written July 24, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Oklahoma City, OK80 contributions
Aug 2015 • Solo
Saw an article online about things to do when visiting Portland and it had the 4T listed on it. Saving it for last I hoped to knock it out fast before dark and this was a mistake. The trail is a great way to experience Portland and its many modes of travel as well as its urban wilderness. Consisting of Portland's tram, train, trolley and (hiking) trails (which the 4T takes its name from) this half day trip starts easy with a ride on the MAX up to the Zoo and from there gets a bit tough. While not a terrible technical climb, the amount of elevation you will gain twice as you visit Council Summit and make your way to the tram will require you to at least be in shape.

Once you have made the hike up to the top of Council Crest you will get to enjoy the best scenic vista of Portland the area has available. Views of Mt. Saint Helen, Adams, and Hood are also present even on a hazy day. Once done atop the hill be ready for another hike back down and up the side of the hill to the OHSU campus where you will take the tram down to the city below. For those afraid of heights this is a point in your trek you will have to avoid as the cable car not only is far above the ground, but also sways dramatically after crossing the cable's midway support mast.

Down on the ground level you walking is over and its time to relax on a ride on the trolley back to your starting point where you first boarded the MAX train. Along this route you will pass a number of shops and cafes just as you did on the start of your ride with the MAX and if you have a day pass you can get on and off as you please.

PRO TIP: Walking the trail in reverse will only cut a fraction of the effort away from hiking. When doing the trail in reverse be prepared for far less signs and it can be easy to get lost. When lost you will find that just about every local will have no idea what the 4T is when you ask for directions back to it. This happened to me. Be sure to Google for a copy of the free pdf map of the route and have it on your smartphone.

FOR THOSE WITH SMALL KIDS OR STROLLERS: The 4T involves a long hike up stairs and dirt paths and along very busy roads, if you are traveling with your kids you need to skip the hiking portion of the 4T and just drive up to Council Crest.

COST: The hiking is free, fare for the tram is 4 dollars, a day pass for both the trolley and train is about 9 dollars, and the zoo's admission varies. While not necessary to visit the Zoo to complete the 4T it is worth a stop.

HIKING PORTION NOTE: Be sure to bring water with you and be ready on hot days to get sweaty. I recommend doing the 4T early in the day and get ready for it to take 4+ hours. The longer you take the more rewarding it is as the scenery is very pretty. Do watch for banana slugs on the trail as they cause a slippery hazard.
Written August 30, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

San Francisco34 contributions
May 2018 • Friends
This trail and it's lookout from Council Crest reminds me of the hike through San Francisco's Sutro Forest, above UCSF down to the Haight, and Telegraph Hill's summit at the base of Coit Tower. Like the first one, while being a lot greener in early May, the 4T Trail from the zoo is rather monotonous---a lot of the same, going up, and then going down, and it takes about 3.5 hours to get to the Tram. At Council Crest, Portland's high point, the view is mostly blocked by Trees, as it is at the top of Telegraph Hill---although they've helpfully chopped down the two bunches that together would otherwise block the view of four mountains. Sadly for us, the clouds blocked the view of all but Mt. St. Helens. Yet, had it been clear, it would likely have been a lot warmer and that would not have been an improvement. The 360 degree view would not be all that breathtaking but having it blocked by the wrong trees homeowners have planted in the wrong location is an annoyance, as it is on Telegraph Hill.

It is the only hike I've ever done, including Sutro Forest, that actually wends through an working hospital---not quite the attraction it sounds, but it's different. The tram ride is impressive, but you could do it without the hike and still have time to ride a train somewhere truly interesting, like perhaps Milwaukee. Or take a Lyft to St. Johns, which is very interesting. As it was, we took MAX up the hill to the zoo (not our first time on MAX or the Portland Streetcar, the Trolley in the 4T) without any intention of visiting the animal prison, and MAX's route was not a particularly scenic in and of itself.

To my mind, this trail, like the one here in Sutro Forest, is more for locals, to give locals a break from the urbanity without having to leave the City. I can't see how this would be of any real interest to any but the most frequent visitor who has done everything else more than twice. And to those who actually do include hikes, this is a lot of effort for very little reward other than the exercise itself.

The Tram I recommend, and MAX has its own attraction and utility as does the Portland Streetcar but the 4T Trail is to me a waste of time.
Written May 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Oregon City, OR63 contributions
May 2018 • Friends
I've done this hike/experience 3 times now. Each time I took a different path for the hike. Finally got it right the 3rd time. Once you get to Council Crest park wind around to the signage a the top. Following the correct path make it a 4.2 mile trek. If you go off the trail at the park and just head towards OHSU you can do it in 3.2 miles but some of hte urban walking is on very narrow shoulders of the road.
Written May 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nancy A
Portland, OR58 contributions
Aug 2017 • Friends
I walked the 4-T trail with friends who will soon be doing the Camino in Spain. It's a great conditioning hike -- and all 4 of us aged 68 to 75 really enjoyed it. A very easy light rail stop to the zoo, down hill to cross over Hwy 26 -- and then straight up the hill to Council Crest. Be sure to go inside the stone circle and stand on top of the metal circle. Your voice echos. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood and St. Helens. Then cross the street to the Marquam Trail and trek through forest to the OHSU (aka Medical School). Get a bite to eat (or an iced coffee) and go outside before taking the tram down. Then take a trolley for a sightseeing trip through Portland. A great workout. Beautiful lush ravines. An excellent trip for anyone who likes a fitness challenge. A unique way to see our city.
Written August 5, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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