Last night I learned the buttes overlooking east Portland are full of hidden gems that are much easier to appreciate with an experienced guide.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but in the 15 years I’ve in Portland, I’ve only ridden Powell Butte once or twice. And I’ve never ventured into lesser-known Clatsop Butte or the string of other parks and natural areas southeast of downtown Lents. That’s why I’ve always wanted to join one of the weeknight adventures led by Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) known as the East Buttes. Last night I finally got my chance.
After meeting up at Gates Park (SE 136th and Holgate), a group of about 10 of us rolled east up into Powell Butte. It was a perfect night. Warm and dry, yet the ground was moist from recent rains and the air had a humid, earthy feel to it. After cresting our first butte, we crossed the Springwater Path and headed south into Pleasant Valley and then looped back west through Happy Valley and ultimately through Mt. Scott before dropping back into Lents.
I was giddy from start to finish following ride leader Ryan Francesconi (remember him?) on a magical mystery route that I still think must have been a dream. Somehow we just kept connecting trails and paths from one to the next. Every few miles we’d pop out into a subdivision of new homes or a park where people were walking dogs, then we’d make a sharp turn, bunny-hop a curb and drop back into another forested fantasyland. As darkness fell and our headlights blinked on, the trails got narrower and the stoke got stronger.
Turns out Portland is full of great off-road trails, you’ve just got to know where to look.
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