In the heart of Portland, Oregon, lies a beginner's delight – the Leif Erikson Trail. Nestled within the lush expanses of Forest Park, this 12-mile journey, while not overly challenging, offers cyclists a rejuvenating escape from urban life. However, it's a route that promises some highs and lows, both topographically and in terms of rider experiences.
One of the most captivating features of the Leif Erikson Trail is its dense North-Western forest setting. Riding along the wide lanes, the green canopy and distant sounds of the city blend to give a surreal sensation of being far removed from civilization, yet being just moments away from the urban sprawl.However, those seeking technical challenges might be slightly disappointed. Much of the trail resembles a gravel road with very few technical features, making it less appealing to mountain biking (MTB) enthusiasts.
While the main trail is relatively placid, the real thrill lies in the Fire lanes. Fire lanes #1 and #3, although short, provide exhilarating downhill experiences. The savvy riders might even opt to shuttle them with the aid of a car or truck.Besides these, several other Fire lanes await discovery. Located past specific mile markers starting from Thurman St., these lanes offer a tantalizing mix of uphill challenges and scenic beauty. Particularly notable are those just past Mile markers 3, 4, and the intriguing one beyond Mile marker 6 at the crossroads of Salzman and Leif Erikson. However, precise navigation for some of these might require a bit of exploratory spirit.
A word of caution for trail enthusiasts: while the Fire lanes are open to bikers, some side trails are off-limits. The local community is particularly sensitive about bikers on these trails. Ensuring that you're on permitted paths not only preserves the peace but ensures a hassle-free riding experience.
For those new to Portland, accessing the trail is relatively straightforward. From downtown Portland, journey out on Burnside drive, take a right on NW 23rd st, followed by a left onto Thurman Rd. A short drive up the hill leads to Forest Park and the awaiting trails. All of this is conveniently located just about 3 miles from downtown Portland.
The Leif Erikson Trail, with its serene backdrop and easy terrains, makes for an ideal escape for beginners or those looking for a relaxed ride. However, always be respectful of local guidelines and enjoy this slice of nature amidst the urban setting of Portland, Oregon.