Portland Trail

Date Hiked: 09-24-2016

Mileage: 3.5 mi; 1.5 hr

Head Count (how many other hikers I saw): 2 groups

__________

Barely rising above 9,000 feet, the Portland trail is the lowest in Ouray, and a good one for newcomers trying to acclimate to the altitude.

Driving into and out of Ouray, the Amphitheater forms the town’s remarkable eastern wall. During a heavy period of volcanism, Ouray and the surrounding mountains were saturated with pounds of ash and lava, which pooled in the valleys, filling crevices and leveled the area. Later, as the earth cooled, two glaciers set on a crash course towards each other collided beneath the Amphitheater, grinding and carving at the rubble of a mass landslide though to have given the landform its distinct face. The Portland trail circles the deep bowl-shaped cirque left behind.

The trail can be reached by a number of access points, but the easiest is probably from the small parking lot at the far southeast end of the Amphitheater Campground. From there, a short .2 mile stretch brings you to a crossroads between the Lower Cascade Falls trail and the Portland trail. Starting the loop counterclockwise, turn right onto the Portland Trail, where the route follows a wide ridge above a drainage before dropping towards its normally dry basin. Just on the other side, turn left at the next fork, half a mile from the trailhead. If the campground is closed, the trail to the right leads to another trailhead off of the Portland Mine Road.

0 (2).JPG

At the trailhead.

1 (2).JPG

The Portland Trail is to the right, and the Cascade Falls Trail is to the left.

2.1 (2).JPG

Heading counterclockwise, you’ll approach this intersection from the backside of the sign. Turn left (right looking at it from this direction) to continue onto the loop. The Portland Mine Road trailhead approaches from the opposite direction, downhill.

As the trail strains higher into the basin, easy switchbacks aim towards a ridge above Portland Creek. Keep an eye on the southern side of the trail for sporadic clearings in the thick curtain of pine and oak to open up with views of the Amphitheater and Hayden Mountain. When the trail reaches its high point of about 9,250 feet 2.2 miles in, a four way junction gives you a number of choices.

5(2).JPG

Portland Trail - Amphitheater (2).jpg

The Amphitheater.

5.0 (2).JPG

Looking southwest towards Hayden Mountain

13(2).JPG

While the Portland Trail never actually reaches the creek, the eastern route at this junction towards the Portland Trailhead does with just .3 miles of hiking one way. The remains of the Portland Mine sit near the headwaters.6 (2).JPG

portland-creek-waterfall-3

10 (2).JPG

Looking west, a billowing veil of fog keeps Whitehouse Mountain out of view.

12 (2).JPG

Portland Creek Mine.jpg

Portland Mine

The rest of the loop follows the Portland Trail to where the Upper and Lower Cascade Falls trails converge. Take Lower Cascade Falls west back to the trailhead.

14 (2).JPG16 (2).JPG

Map

0. Map.png

Directions

(From Ouray): Head south out of Ouray on Highway 550 and turn left onto Amphitheater Campground Road at the second switchback. Follow the road as it curves around the campsites and ends at a small parking lot after 1.1 miles.

2.1 miles; 7 min

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s