Heading West, A Trail Sampler Menu

Last June we took a trip to the West Coast of the United States, to Portland, Oregon to visit our friends (who are like family!) Deb and Dan; and then we flew down to San Ramon, California to visit our family (who are also friends!) Debbie and Jack. Instead of doing a spring race, we decided to have this vacation with, among other things, a lot of trail running in new and fun places.

We put together this ‘menu’ of the runs we did, from the seemingly endless options we had tempting us every day. From the Oregon Coast to the Columbia River Gorge; from admiring the volcanic mountains of the Cascade Range to getting up high in the Sierra Nevada; from the unique and beautiful jewel of the East Bay Area, Mount Diablo, to the cool redwoods of Oakland; we had a very satisfying overall experience to launch us into the rest of our year.

1) Just Add Water: Ecola State Park, OR With a heat wave hitting the state, we decided to go to the coast, though it ended up being just as crazy hot there. On the way, we were treated by Deb and Dan to a loop of the iconic Michael Johnson track for a warmup. After seeing videos of many former Olympian track runners doing workouts here, it was awesome to take a little jog around the oval. Then we proceeded to the trails of Ecola State Park, and although the sun was scorching, there was ample shade to take cover under. From the main parking lot to Indian Beach, Clatsop Loop trail to Tillamook Rock lighthouse observation point.

Distance: 8 km

Elevation Gain: 430 m

Tasting Notes:

  • Alternating beautiful ocean views and lush vegetation

  • Ups and downs as it follows the coast

  • Busy! Lots of friendly people out enjoying the trail and beach

Best Paired with: North Coast Red Ale, Seaside Brewing, Seaside, OR

2) The Magic of Self-Rising Power: Multnomah Falls to Larch Mountain, OR Surprisingly just a touch cooler along the Columbia River Gorge, we started at the base of the iconic Multnomah Falls, and went straight up to the top of Larch Mountain to Sherrard’s Point. The best thing about the heat was that the sky was clear and blue – great for views!

Distance: 22 km (round trip)

Elevation Gain: 1200 m

Tasting Notes:

  • Climb above the falls, hardly anyone up there

  • Beautiful, lush trail, pine needles, crosses creek on bridges

  • Rocky area scree field near the top, kind of like the Adirondacks

  • Reach the top with impressive panoramic view of Mt. Hood, Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Mt St. Helens

Best Paired With: Blonde IPA, Pfriem, Hood River, OR

3) Recover With Flat Pancakes: Trillium Lake Trail, OR Driving through orchards to the south side of Mount Hood, we relished a flatter recovery run on Trillium Lake Trail. The loop itself is about 3 km, but we added on a side trail to enjoy it a bit longer.

Distance: 5 km

Elevation Gain: 90 m

Tasting Notes:

  • Flat run around lake with views of Mt Hood

  • Lush vegetation surrounding the lake and lots of ducks in it.

Best Paired With: Slipknot IPA, Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, OR

4) Bike ‘n Brew Palate Cleanser: Cycle Portland Brewery Tour, Portland, OR Deb and Dan had extra bikes! They took us on a bike tour of Portland (aka Beervana) to sample some of the many, many, many brew pubs in the city. So. Much. Fun!!

Distance: 26 km

Elevation Gain: 120 m

Tasting Notes:

  • 96 breweries in Portland

  • So many within small area

  • 1.5 hr riding, 6.5 hr total time!

  • 5 breweries, lots of beer and food for fuel

  • So fun to do this on bikes, tour of a good chunk of the city in addition to the breweries and the wheeeee factor of doing it at night

Best Paired With: Black Bear XX Stout, Alameda Brewery

5) Bite of Wildwood: Forest Park, Portland, Oregon We had to get a run in the famous and huge urban Forest Park before we left the city, so we started from MacLeay Park and used the Lower Macleay Trail to access Wildwood Trail.

Distance: 10 km

Elevation Gain: 240 m

Tasting Notes:

  • Urban park, incredible options

  • Good climbs initially, then rolling

  • Beautiful trees made it shady and cool

Best Paired With: Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Deschutes Brewery

6) First Taste of Tahoe: Fallen Leaf Lake, South Tahoe, CA After a regroup night in San Ramon, where we borrowed camping gear and obtained local trail beta from Debbie and Jack, we decided from the many great options to head to Tahoe for a few days. After enjoying the drive there and finding a place to stay at the Fallen Leaf Campground in South Tahoe, we stumbled upon this trail right from the south end of the campground where we could enjoy some great views.

Distance: 4 km

Elevation Gain: 34 m

Tasting Notes:

  • Spectacular views of Fallen Leaf Lake and the surrounding mountains

  • Clear, dry air

  • Flat and easy for recovery, yet still beautiful

  • First time seeing huge Ponderosa Pine trees, jigsaw puzzle bark, amazing. Sara was a bit obsessed with them.

Best Paired With: Campfire sloppy joes by Chef Derrique