Forest Park Portland

The Wildwood Trail of Forest Park

 

(Click on the photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Fall is a lovely time to go for a run or hike in Forest Park, in Portland, Oregon. The park is one of the nation’s largest urban forests. Visitors will find more than 100 species of birds and an extensive trail system, including the more than 30 miles that make up the Wildwood Trail.

I photographed the Wildwood Trail last weekend, one of many times I have captured it in different seasons.

As a photographer, I love preparing for a shot in nature. You have to pause, set up your tripod, and think the process through. That makes you enjoy the moment better. But as a trail runner and walker, I hate carrying gear and do not want to be bogged down. This short series attempted to do both. In the end, I brought the wrong tripod and did not get a great walk. That is probably the reason I only got a few good shots.

They have no particular meaning other than my impressions of the sights and visitors I encountered. I never have had a bad time in Forest Park.

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Two of my favorite parks in the world: Forest Park

 

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

By pure coincidence, I have lived in two great cities with two great parks named Forest Park. Both are national treasures. Both make both their home cities livable. Both parks improve residents’ quality of life by incalculable measures. They also are loved dearly by their communities. And both are incredible places to go for a long run.

I grew up in University City, next to St. Louis and its storied Forest Park. The 1,300-acre park is home to the free and world-class St. Louis Zoo and the free and the world-class St. Louis Art Museum. It has a public golf course, lagoons, and a fabulous running and biking trail that navigates its edge for about six and half miles. Nearly everyone who lives in the St. Louis area visits the park because it has something for everyone. The City of St. Louis reports the park gets 12 million (that’s right, 12 million) visitors a year! During every trip I take back to University City to see my family, I come here to run, walk, and enjoy its cultural treasures.

I now live in Portland. That city’s premier park also is called Forest Park. Unlike its cousin in St. Louis, Forest Park in Portland is a wooded natural area comprising 5,100 wooded acres. According to the City of Portland, the park boasts 112 bird and 62 mammal species. It features the 30-mile Wildwood Trail and a 12-mile long closed and dirt service road called Leif Erikson Drive. Together, they make for one of the best places for trail running and hiking near any major U.S. city. I have literally done hundreds of miles of trail running here since I moved back to Portland in 2014.

As a runner who has run in parks and on trails throughout the world, these two parks rank as some of my favorite places. If I could have access to no national park or wild place the rest of my life and only had one of these parks to enjoy, I think I could die a happy person.

If you are in either city, visit either park. Both have conservancies that now provide a lot of the back-end financing and volunteer work to keep the parks accessible year-round. Remember, it costs money to run a park and they deserve your support.

Forest Park, when the last leaves fall

I was unable to run last weekend, so I took a walk instead in my favorite place to enjoy trails: Portland’s Forest Park. Most of the seasonal color was already gone. A few remaining maples and other trees had some remaining leaves hanging, like forlorn orphans. The place looks more wide open now. You can see through the canopy. Today, when I did a run, nearly all of the leaves had fallen. It is a nice time of year and a great time to be in this park.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

A warm winter walk in Forest Park

On most weekends, I can be found running or walking the Wildwood Trail of Forest Park, the best public park in a major city on the West Coast, if you ask me. On Sunday, it was freakishly warm, which brought out everyone and their dogs. You could hear the sound of spring in the bird calls echoing in the forest. You cannot have a bad day in this park, even in the rain. But it can be totally awesome when the sun comes out.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

Random fall candids in Portland

The leaves are now falling en masse and the glory that is autumn is drawing to a close. I took a couple of shots over the past few weeks and decided to post them without any particular message, other than I enjoy sharing the season’s colors. I took two of these shots with a GoPro and one with my FujiPro, in really bad lighting without a tripod. But I still like the outcome.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

The benefits of Shinrin-yoku

The Japanese have a term that describes taking in the atmosphere of the forest. It is called Shinrin-yoku. The expression does not exist in English, but the concept is not unique to the Japanese, and the idea of clearing one’s mind by walking in the woods is very old and trans-cultural. It turns out some scientific studies measuring cortisol (the stress hormone associated with chronic disease and so many other ailments), heart rate, blood pressure and other health indicators found improvements in those measurements of people who walked in forests. I have known this all my life. I always feel better after a walk or run in the woods. If you are living near some woods, if you can, remember to get out for even a short walk.

Click on the picture to see a larger photo on a separate picture page.

Portland’s most scenic drive, Northwest Cornell Road

Northwest Cornell Road climbs up the city’s West Hills more than a thousand feet, with trails intersecting the two-lane thoroughfare. It is one of the city’s most popular bike rides, and hikers and trail runners access world-class Forest Park from here too. Two tunnels were carved out here during the Great Depression, as a Works Project Administration project. They have both that sturdy quality of craftsmanship and utliitarian functionality that typify the great building projects of this era of American history. They are, in fact, timeless in their beauty, and I like them. Here are a few shots of one, and the side path bikers taken to avoid tunnel traffic. I think I will be seeing these tunnel a lot in the months to come. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)