The Marquam Trail is part of a larger network of trails that traverse the hills of Southwest Portland. Eventually, they connect into the trail networks that string through Washington Park, the Hoyt Arboretum and Forest Park. The Marquam Shelter, at the base of the Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) campus in downtown Portland, is a great access point for the trail. Provided at the shelter are maps of the Marquam Trail network, a guide to flora and fauna you might encounter on a hike up the trail, and the history of the Marquam Trail and Council Crest Park that dates back to the early 1900s.
The hike up Marquam Trail to Council Crest Park is a surprising respite from the noises and traffic of the city. Although you are never far from roads or houses, the mix of deciduous and fir trees lining the trail, which runs along the slope of a ravine, effectively removes most sounds of the city and make you feel like you've left the urban environment far behind. On a hot summer day, the shaded trail stays cool, making it a great hike during the peak of Portland's summer heat.
The trail tops out at Council Crest Park, the highest point in Portland. The views from Council Crest are a welcome treat after hiking through the woods all the way from downtown. From Council Crest you can return by the way you came back to Marquam Shelter or continue on the trails that link to Washington Park. The Marquam Trail is also part of the newly devised 4-T Trail. It's a loop system that incorporates use of a trail, tram, trolley, and train (respectively the Marquam Trail, the OHSU Tram, the Portland Streetcar and MAX Light Rail) to provide an interesting way to journey through the various parts of Southwest Portland.