Portland’s Forest Park is known for its Nasty trail running routes using trails, firelanes, and NW Portland streets to get as much elevation gain as possible in a ten to 15-mile run. How about a Nastyish route using the OHSU campus, trails, streets, and parks in SW Portland?
The Pill Hill Pavement Pounder Nasty is a 13.5-mile route with 2400′ of ascent. A springtime bluebird day is a perfect time to do this run because of the Portland Metro area’s visibility, the Coastal Mountain Range, and the Cascade Mountains from Mt. Ranier to Mt Jefferson. It starts and finishes at the Duniway Track on Barber Blvd. near the Portland State Campus.
At the track’s starting line, start the run in lane 8 to the path after the first corner. Head up the path to the corner of SW Sheridan and 6th. Turn right on 6th for two blocks and turn right again on Sherman. Continue past Broadway and up a wooden staircase. Turn right at the top of the stairs and continue at the end of the street on a path and the first of many stunning downtown Portland views. Stay right at the end of the path. In a few blocks is College Street Hill, a short but steep incline popular for hill repeats. Mt. St. Helens comes into view halfway up the hill. Take caution as this is a narrow street with one-way traffic is coming down the hill.
Turn left on SW 16th at the top to run by some of Portland’s most valuable homes. At the end of SW 16th, turn right on SW Davenport and then right again for a brief stint on SW Broadway. Stay on the left “shoulder” and turn left on Broadway Trail to enter Marquam Nature Park. Turn right in a quarter-mile on Marquam Trail for a 1.3-mile climb to Council Crest Park.
At the center of Council Crest Park is a small amphitheater with views of Mt. Hood to the east and Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens to the North. Follow the street SW around the park to see the Chehalem Mountains’ views to the Trolley Trail stairs. Follow the trail back to the Marquam Trail. Turn left on the asphalt path for a brief moment to the junction of Talbot and Fairmount Blvd.
Turn left for two miles on Fairmount for a pleasant descent that curls around the southern end of Council Crest. This street is popular for walkers and bikers because of the views of the Tualatin Valley and Coastal Mountains on the west end and Mt. Hood on the east end. Shortly after the Mt. Hood vista is the Warbler Trail that leads back into Marquam Nature Park. Head down Warbler for .3 miles and then turn right on Flicker Trail for another .3 miles to the Marquam Trail junction. Turn right to follow the directions to Terwilliger Blvd.
Cross the street at Terwilliger and head right up the bicycle path that follows the road. Stay on Terwilliger past the viewpoint and follow it down to where it crosses Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Look for the trail just after this intersection for the unmarked George Himes Trail on the right. Keep straight down a steep section and follow the stairs underneath I-5 and Barber Blvd. for a half-mile to Iowa St. In one block, turn left on South Corbett. Follow Corbett uphill over 1-5 for a half-mile to S. Hamilton. Turn left on Hamilton and continue through the SW Barber intersection. Stay on Hamilton back to Terwilliger.
Turn right on the Terwilliger bike path. Look for the Veterans Hospital sign and look for a crosswalk to the stairs on the left up to what Portlanders call “Pill Hill.” Climb two flights of stairs to the Veterans Hospital Rd. bus stop. Turn right on the road and follow it through the VA hospital. After the hospital on the left is a shortcut path to Gaines St through some OHSU buildings. Continue on Gaines St. and turn left on SW 12th St. and the Flicker Trail that again leads into the Marquam Nature Center.
Continue of Flicker across the bridge and turn right on Towhee Trail. Follow Towhee Trail over Marquam Hill Rd. for a mile to Marquam Trail. Turn left on Marquam for a half-mile to Shadyside Trail. Turn right on Shadyside Trail for another half-mile past the Marquam Shelter and onto Sam Jackson Parkway. Continue down the hill on Sam Jackson to the Terwilliger stoplight to the Duniway Lilac Garden. Turn right on the wood chip path around the garden to a path that leads down to Duniway Track and the finish.