A social distance cycling adventure to Powell Butte: 16 July 2020

It’s been awhile since I’ve ridden a bicycle with someone that isn’t part of my family. The risk didn’t seem worth it. While the risk has definitely not abated, I’m feeling a bit more comfortable hanging out with someone else. So I got a hold of my friend Steve, rode to his house off of SE Foster Road, and went on a bike ride.

We initially had loftier ambitions, maybe hitting one of those far-off Gresham Buttes. But we were already in the heat of the day, and the clarion call of Powell Butte called us. As I’ve mentioned before, I love coming up to Powell Butte, but don’t go there as often as I should. The last time I was up there was September, and my chain broke on the Bantam on the ride back. I hadn’t been up there since. Interacting with people during the pandemic put me on edge.

But even on this beautiful summer Thursday, there wasn’t many people on the butte. Heck, there never is. It’s a big, sprawling space, so it’s easy to avoid folks. We climbed to the top by my usual route: the shaded Old Holgate Trail, featuring a steady 6% grade, then up through the meadow to the top.

The big focal point of the top of Powell Butte is the mountain finder. But that’s in the open. Instead, we embarked on a brand-new (and not finished) trail that led into the heart of the old orchard adjacent to the viewfinder. There’s one good clearing aside the trail, so we hung out there quite a bit, safely shaded.

We still hit up the viewfinder. The mountains were all out on this clear day. All four snow-capped volcanoes visible from this vantage were prominent: Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson.* Stuff like this makes me love living in Portland.

We descended my preferred route: down Elderberry Trail to Cedar Grove Trail. The meadow transitions into deep, mature forest. We like to call it the “Ewok Trail” as it resembles that landscape from Return of the Jedi. The forest is so deep here, little natural light makes its way down to the floor. It’s quiet and still. We roll down the trail and get on the Springwater Corridor, then head westward toward home.

It was a great little adventure. I rode about twenty miles total. Summer’s not over yet, so there’s more chances to get up to Powell Butte while it’s nice out. I need to not sit on it.

Powell Butte with Steve M. 14 July 2020
Photos of the ride.

*Helens and Hood are the most prominent. The peaks of Adams and Jefferson could be seen rising above the foothills. Mount Rainier isn’t visible from Powell Butte, you have to be a bit further west in town to catch a glimpse of that one.

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