4T Trail – exploring and painting Portland

Portland Trolley
Watercolor, pen and ink of the Portland Trolley

The 4T Trail was one of my ventures during a visit to Portland, providing a different way to see Portland.

From attending conventions in Portland, I’d already come to admire the city’s progressive transportation system. Using the train (MAX light rail), I traveled from the airport to my hotel and was able to travel by train to reach a range of locations – including the Portland Saturday Market, an outdoors arts and crafts market.

So when a Portland friend suggested doing the 4T Trail, I checked information about the Trail online, and then said Yes! (You can read about how the 4T Trail came to exist.)

The 4T Trail includes Trail, Tram, Trolley and Train and takes about a half day to complete. Of course, doing the 4T Trail can take longer, as it did for us, if you take time for exploring.

Trail: 4T Trail

We started with a ride on the train (MAX Light Rail) from the suburbs outside of Portland to the Portland Zoo. The train was clean, fast and efficient.

A train reaches every stop about every 15 minutes. An adult can ride for $2.50 for 2½ hours or $5 for a day pass. I’d suggest purchasing the day pass.

Watercolor, pen and ink of friends on the Marquam Trail
Watercolor, pen and ink of friends on the Marquam Trail

Trail: 4T Trail

From the zoo, we walked to the trailhead and began the 4.4-mile hike on the Marquam Trail and trails in the Marquam Nature Park. I really enjoyed the hike!

At Council Crest, we had a panorama view of Portland and could even see snow-capped Mount Hood in the distance.

A rock wall rings the summit, and by standing in the right location in relation to the wall, you can speak and hear an echo. Of course, I had to try out that acoustical effect with the branch flute I had taken with me. Beautiful.

Tram: 4T Trail

We arrived at “Pill Hill,” the upper campus for Oregon Health Services University. Within one of the hospitals is the Chemeffu (Tualitin for “on the mountain”) Station for the Portland Aerial Tram, connecting with the Chamanchal (“on the river”) Station at bottom of the hill.

Watercolor, pen and ink of the Portland Aerial Tram

The tram was built to provide timely connection between the hospital and medical facilities at the top of the hill and the OHSU classrooms and labs at the bottom of the hill. The project was completed in 2006 for a cost of $57 million.

The ride was fast and efficient. The tram zoomed down the mountainside in just four minutes but wasn’t a stomach-churning ride like, say, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride.

Lots of large windows in the tram meant everyone (the tram holds 79 people) had a good view of Portland during the ride.

The cost is $5.10 for roundtrip – or free if you just ride down, which is what we did.

Watercolor, pen and ink of water cistern at the pizza cafe
Watercolor, pen and ink of water cistern at the pizza café

Trolley: 4T Trail

From the station at the bottom of the tram, it was a short walk to the the the trolly.

We did make a side trip to explore the South Waterfront, finding a geocache and sitting outside at a pizza café for lunch.

The trolley is the Portland Streetcar with dozens of colorful trolleys.

My favorite was a purple and lime trolley. (You’ll see that trolley moving through the background of my Bubbler artwork.)

Watercolor, pen and ink of a flash of the Portland Trolley going by the Portland bubblers
Watercolor, pen and ink of a flash of the lime green and purple Portland Trolley going by the Portland bubblers

As we reached the downtown, the audio system in the trolley announced stops that were sponsored by Portland State University or area businesses. That’s a new marketing approach.

When we arrived in the downtown, we took a side trip to Pioneer Courthouse Square, called Portland’s Living Room. A special feature of the downtown area are Benson Bubblers, special bronze water fountains.

Electric bicycles and electric scooters also are part of Portland’s public transportation initiative – although not part of the 4T Trail. The scooters and bicycles are GPS aware and can be rented and activated through a phone app.

When visiting Barcelona, I’d been impressed with the city’s bicycle borrowing system – called BiCiNg. Throughout the city are racks of red and white bicycles that can be used by Barcelona residents with the use of a “Bicing” card. I had thought Europe was ahead of the times with innovative bicycle borrowing. But Portland has a similar system with electric bicycles and scooters.

Watercolor, pen and ink of a geocache on the Portland waterfront
Watercolor, pen and ink of a geocache on Portland’s South Waterfront

After walking through the Square, we walked to the light rail line and caught the MAX back to the suburb train station where the car was parked.

What a fun day!

The experience provided inspiration for several paintings.

And I now have a 4T Trail patch as recognition of the event.

One comment

  1. So interesting to read this, Judy! I’ve never been to the Portland area, but reading this makes me want to visit. Thanks for writing your blog. And, of course, your artwork is amazing.

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