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Cannon Trail – Forest Park
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What’s to Love: Cannon Trail is a *relatively* new trail in the Forest Park trail system. In my opinion, building this trail was very smart. The building of Cannon Trail helped eliminate the need to use many existing, rogue trails that cut through sensitive areas on a steep hillside. The trailhead is located off Germantown road either at Leif Erickson or the Wildwood trail parking lots.  If you’re looking for a hike with a bit less traffic, this hike fits the bill. 

My wife an I used to trail-run here quite often. We’d start up on the Wildwood and use some of these unsanctioned/unmarked trails to create loops down to Leif Erickson.  Then, we’d head back up to the Wildwood parking area without having to use Germantown road. Apparently, enough people were using these unmarked trails to catch the attention of trail builders – who saw a need to create a legitimate trail connecting the Wildwood and Leif Erickson parking area to parking area.

The Cannon Trail is a delightful connector with a very easy grade. Due to this connection, there is a now a legitimate loop hike from either trailhead on Germantown road.  Here is a short video clip…

Caveats: Be careful on Germantown road. There are blind curves, and people often pull out into traffic (very suddenly) from trailheads. Parking may be an issue on a beautiful, weekend afternoon. The worst part about this hike is having to walk down Leif Erickson Road, but as you can see in the photo, even that was a pleasant experience.

Website: Forest Park Trails

This is the “Friends of Forest Park” website, which provides an abundance of useful information about Forest Park, hikes, mountain biking, trail access issues, etc.

This isn’t the “official site,” but it does give a good description of the hike.

Distance from Portland: This is about a 10 mile drive out highway 30 toward Sauvie Island and the St. John’s Bridge access ramp.

Recommended Ages: All ages. Under age 2 will probably need a carrier of some kind (see Family Tips), but toddlers will probably enjoy rambling along the trail, especially the Wildwood (mostly flat). Older kids won’t mind this hike, because it’s short enough to keep the boredom away.

Parental Stress Factor: Low Stress! Your close to your car in case of an accident. You will not see many people compared to other parts of Forest Park.

Physical Difficulty: Low to Medium – this is a pretty easy little hike. There are some steep parts, but they are very short.

Family Fun Factor: Medium to High depending on how much your kids like to hike.  This is a great little loop hike in a beautiful part of Forest Park. Even though the trailhead was packed with cars we didn’t see anyone on the trails.

Pet Friendly: Yes! Forest Park, in general, is a great place for dogs. Since this is a bit off the beaten path, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to let your dog run.  (Editorial NOTE 4/16/2012)  I originally meant it was a good place to run with your dog.  My original statement implies that it’s okay to let your dog run around off-leash.  According to the rules, dogs need to be on leashes at all times!

Weather Considerations: Year round, but watch for muddy conditions in the winter! While I recommend a jogger, it’s not a good idea in wet, muddy conditions. Besides the danger of slipping, the jogger will where ruts in the trail while going through muddy sections.

Insider Info: We parked at the trailhead for the Wildwood trail. If you’re driving up Germantown from the St. John’s Bridge, it will be the 2nd parking area on your left. The first or lower parking area is for Leif Erickson Road. For a very casual, after-dinner stroll, hike the Wildwood Trail no more than 3/4 miles to “Fire Line” trail, which cuts a switch-back to the left. Take this for 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile to Leif Erickson Road. You’ll go around a metal gate, and you’ll see the fire extinguisher in the picture here.

Take a left on Leif Erickson and head back 1 mile to the Leif Erickson parking area. Keep left and walk almost all the way to Germantown road, and you’ll see the sign for Cannon Trail. Take Cannon Trail 1/2 to 1/3 of a mile back to the Wildwood parking area. A really nice hike for kids. There is just enough up and down to keep them interested.

Family Tips: We used a Bob Jogger on this trip, because our son didn’t feel like hiking that afternoon. There are some spots where we had to be very careful (steep!); however, these spots were short-lived, and it worked fine for the most part.  Please make sure to securely fasten the safety strap to your wrist when you’re heading down any steep hill.

A backpack would probably work better, but we don’t like backpacks on short trips, because inevitably our son wants to get down and walk a bit – then, changes his mind – then, changes his mind again. It’s so much easier with a jogger! Plus, joggers are great due to the fact you can usually store jackets, snacks and anything else you might need during the hike. If you’re lucky, you won’t even need to carry a backpack at all on this short hike.

Technorati Tags: cannon trail, forest park, hiking, kids, loop-hikes, Leif Erikson, Wildwood Trail

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3 Comments


  1. " Since this is a bit off the beaten path, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to let your dog run…"

    Unfortunately, this is a common attitude in Forest Park, beaten path or not. According to the Forest Park Conservancy, this poses a threat to birds, fish, and other wildlife. Please do not use Forest Park as an area to let your dog run. There are off leash areas throughout the city where you can do this, but Forest Park should never be one of them.

    • Patrick,

      Thanks for the comment, and I share your sentiments. Nowhere in this article (or any other) do I advocate letting dogs run off-leash, if it's against the rules. What I meant here is that you can run with your dog (on leash) without running into as many people. "Let your dog run…" was not meant to mean off-leash.

  2. Ashley Blincow

    Thanks man! Exact info I was looking for to see if it was good to take my kid on

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