PDX running filter: help me find the safest, prettiest 10 mile route in NE Portland?
October 9, 2012 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Portland, OR for a wedding this weekend. I need to complete a ten mile run to keep up with training for a half marathon. I'll be staying on the NE side of Portland. I'm a lady running solo. Are there streets/areas I should avoid?

I usually do my long runs with my sister so I'm a little nervous about 10 miles alone already, but since I'll be in an unfamiliar city I want to make sure I don't take any stupid turns. We're staying on NE 10th between Prescott and Mason and I was planning to head over to North Vancouver Ave, run north to NE Ainsworth, then zig zag south down NE33rd with long stretches on NE Killingsworth, NE Alberta and NE Fremont.

I've visited PDX before (and I'm so excited to go back!) but I stayed in the city center last time, so: Anything stand out as neighborhood/ streets I should avoid? Or can you suggest a prettier spot? I'm willing to run a mile or two to get to a park where I can do the middle miles and then run home if you can think of something that fits the bill, but I'd like to start and end near our rental house. I'm using mapmyrun.com to try and plan, and will also have the app running as I...run. Heh.

My usual running precautions: I carry ID, phone, $20 for a cab if I need it, and water, of course. Thanks in advance for your help :)
posted by hungrybruno to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
10 miles will get you to Mt. Tabor and back, which could take you through some scenic neighborhoods and up and down an active volcano. I'm sure we'll have some portland runners along soon enough to suggest specific routes, but the Neighborhood Greenways and Bike Boulevards website has maps of low/no-car-traffic streets to run on.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:06 AM on October 9, 2012

The itinerary above covers a range of socioeconomic ground, for whatever that's worth. Some people feel more nervous on the western/northern part of your proposed route than I, as a short non-imposing white female, ever have, but YMMV. I've been here 12 years and never experienced a real "omg I made the wrong turn and now I'm in trouble" moment anywhere in this city. Personally I think you'd be fine, but I also like the suggestion of Mt. Tabor just because it's scenic and a good workout. Grant Park and Laurelhurst Park are smaller but are also nice and could kind of be on your way over to Tabor.
posted by treblemaker at 11:10 AM on October 9, 2012

Oh, also, Rose City Park has an attached golf course with a trail running above it, so there's that.
posted by treblemaker at 11:13 AM on October 9, 2012

You are going to want to bring rain gear and a reflective vest for this weekend - first rain of fall is going to hit and there are some weather warnings out about it.

That route will take you through the Missisippi district (a bit), N Vanvouver is a bike boulevard and heavily travelled at all times of the day - so safe enough. Ainsworth is a major thoroughfare - if you get down to 23rd and Ainsworth you will be right at Alberta Park which has a running track around it and a fire station in one corner of the park and is pretty busy during the day with moms and kids/etc out in it.

At 33rd and Prescott is Wilshire park, also with plenty of running trails with a bonus of being lit up at night. Personally I'd stay off of Killingsworth, not because there is likely to be a problem, but because it's just kinda of meh in parts - closer to MLK near the police sub station.

I'd bounce between 15th and 33rd for most of the run south, but heading over closer to MLK is fine, often the houses aren't as scenic but nothing to be afraid of.

I can tell you up at 33rd and Killingsworth my wife and I run at night without any real worries and have done so in all weathers and times. We hit all the major parks up here - Fernhill, Wilshire and Alberta.
posted by iamabot at 11:29 AM on October 9, 2012

Oh yeah if you get stuck out in the rain up near 33rd and Killingsworth there are plenty of places to duck in to until it passes (Kennedy School/all of Alberta Street, etc).
posted by iamabot at 11:31 AM on October 9, 2012

Mt Tabor also contains a 5K and 10K course, in addition to being very pretty. It is a mountain mind you and has some serious hills.
posted by French Fry at 11:42 AM on October 9, 2012

NE Alberta between 15th and 33rd is jam packed with people (and cars in the street) so I'd avoid that. NE Going is a bicycle boulevard (between Prescott and Alberta), so the car traffic is lower and I see people running on the street all the time.
posted by vespabelle at 11:48 AM on October 9, 2012

That's a lot of traffic on your route.

I'd run along Willamette Boulevard (along the top of the bluff) from Killingsworth& Greeley(ish) all the way over to St. Johns, adjusting for your mileage requirement. It's pretty flat, sidewalks and the road are wide enough to be safe for running, apparently popular with runners, and on the marathon route. You'll have nice views for most of the way.
posted by janell at 12:49 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

According to my (totally ROCKIN') 1979 book Running Around Portland, your best bet is the #1 Grant Park/Mt. Tabor loop.

10.8 mile distance
8/10 difficulty. Steady hill climb to about 600 feet elevation at Mt Tabor
Grant park-> 36th ave -> NE Alameda -> NE 62nd -> NE Sacramento around and through the Rose City golf course -> over I-84 -> NE 73rd -> SE 72nd-> SE 71st -> SE Yamhill -> up and around the most awesome extinct volano -> SE Salmon -> SE 49th -> SE Stark -> use an alley to get to Laurelhurst park -> SE Ankeny ->SE 28th and turn on NE US Grant place to get back to grant park.

Pros: this gives you some totally great sites to see on a run

Cons: it starts at Grant Park and you will have to look at a map pretty closely to recreate these vague directions/suggestions.

However, this is a run that can shave off some parts, just plan your crossings over I-84 and could start where you are staying. Also, it approaches Mt. Tabor from the east side and you could maybe save some time coming at it from the west side.

Your original question about safety: Portland is very safe and if you run during daylight/early evening hours there should be no problems. I would avoid Killingsworth for reasons that it is a busy road, with little foot traffic, and is not scenic for your run.

Hope it's fun!
posted by artdesk at 5:07 PM on October 9, 2012

This is the neighborhood where I live in Portland. I'm a white woman and run here by myself at night without real concern. So I think you'll be fine.

The only thing I might say -- some of these roads are busier, and if you go a block in either direction, you might find it more enjoyable to run along a neighborhood street instead of a more commercial street.

Have fun!
posted by bluedaisy at 10:28 PM on October 9, 2012

Thanks, everyone. I took a look at some of the greenway/bike routes and it sounds like I'll find streets that are friendly to foot traffic. Appreciate the tips on streets being busy/boring; it's hard to tell from a map :)
posted by hungrybruno at 7:10 AM on October 10, 2012

Hey, Vancouver and Ainsworth are right in my neighborhood also. I don't know much about running, but the park that is near there: Peninsula Park, is beautiful and also has a "track" that loops around the perimeter, I see lot's of folks using that to do their running as well.
posted by dipolemoment at 12:52 PM on October 10, 2012

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