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Trail Profile: Leif Erikson Drive (South) at Thurman Street

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This page contains trail facts and information for the beginning segment of Leif Erikson Drive in Forest Park.
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Trail Facts at a Glance

Name: Leif Erikson Drive (South) at Thurman Street

Location: The closest address for the start of Leif Erikson Drive is just past 4015 NW Thurman Street, Portland OR 97210.

Hours: 5:00 am—10:00pm

Public transit: TriMet 26bus.

To access the trailhead via the 26 bus, exit the bus at NW Thurman Street and Gordon Street (stop ID: 5824). From this location, park visitors should travel uphill along NW Thurman Street approximately 1,400ft to the trailhead, which is marked by a small parking area, gate, and interpretive sign. Note that this route requires travel along a residential road with a significant grade. Both sides of the road along this route have adjacent sidewalk until the parking area, when the sidewalk ends. At this point, park visitors need to travel in the road through the parking area to the trailhead gate. Traffic along this stretch of road varies depending on the time of day and weather, but can be heavy for a residential street during times when there are many visitors to the trailhead.  

Length: proposed hike is ~.7 miles round trip

Permitted activities include pedestrian use on all trails; cycling and equestrian use on designated trails, including Leif Erikson Drive (although horses are very seldom seen on this stretch of the park road). Motorized mobility devices allowed for people with disabilities. Dogs on-leash only.

Prohibited activities include off-leash dogs, fires, drones, motorized vehicles, camping, fireworks, hunting and fishing, and possession of firearms.

Date of assessment: May 5, 2023
 

Summary Description

Leif Erikson Drive is an approximately 11-mile road that traverses much of Forest Park. In general, the road has a gentle grade and is relatively wide. It is a popular route for hiking, running, and cycling that connects to many different connector trails over the course of its length. The beginning of Leif Erikson Drive is located at a park gate off of NW Thurman Street, a residential street that dead-ends at this entrance to Forest Park. See more information about the rest of Forest Park on the Forest Park webpage.

The closest public transit is TriMet bus 26.  To access the trailhead from the closest stop at NW Thurman Street and NW Gordon Street (stop ID: 5824), the total travel distance is approximately 1,400 feet and the maximum grade is greater than 10%. There is sidewalk or paved residential street intersections the entire way.

Around the Leif Erikson / Thurman Street trailhead, there is a bench, a water fountain, bicycle parking, and an interpretive sign. There are no restrooms at the trailhead (although porta-potties are located about .3 miles up the trail) and there is no designated ADA parking. Leif Erikson Drive is 14-20 ft wide, with a firm rock and gravel surface; the road has gentle grades, with an average grade of 3.5% and a maximum grade of 7.8% for less than 50 linear feet. There are numerous rock obstacles protruding in places, especially at the first turn in the road, but obstacles larger than 2” can be avoided by staying to the outside/uphill side of the turn. The first .35 miles of the road are characterized by a few turns in the road, seasonal springs and a stream crossing, and significant shade at most times of year, with some short stretches of sun exposure.

Vehicle access is restricted to the parking areas close to the trailhead, and parking is quite limited. There is space for approximately 9 vehicles in a parking area adjacent to the last residence on NW Thurman Street before the trailhead; however, this parking area does not contain marked stalls and there are no ADA stalls. There is also parking along the nearby residential streets; note that this tends to get quite busy during times of high use.

This is a very popular trailhead and is used by runners, hikers with dogs, cyclists, and families. Use is highest on the weekends and during the warmer, drier months, but the trailhead can get busy at all times of year. Note that this trailhead is very popular with park visitors with dogs, which are required to be leashed within the park. Compliance with this park rule tends to be highest closest to the trailhead where there are more park visitors.

Location and Arrival

The closest address for the start of Leif Erikson Drive at NW Thurman Street is just past 4015 NW Thurman Street, Portland OR 97210.   

Vehicle access is restricted to the parking areas close to the trailhead (not beyond the gate), and parking is quite limited. There is space for approximately 9 vehicles in angled parking adjacent to the last residence on NW Thurman Street before the trailhead; however this parking area does not contain marked stalls and there are no ADA stalls. There is also parking along the nearby residential streets; note that this tends to get quite busy during times of high use.

A wide gravel road bordered by logs, trees, and other green vegetation on both sides, leads to a trailhead gate in the distance.
A view of the trailhead gate from the parking area.

TriMet bus line 26 provides access to the Leif Erikson / Thurman Street trailhead. You can plan your trip with TriMet using the TriMet trip planner. You can also access the trailhead using TriMet Paratransit services. The trailhead is also served by Portland WAV services which you can call at 503-865-4928.

How to access the trailhead via the 26 bus

To access the trailhead via the 26 bus, exit the bus at NW Thurman Street and Gordon Street (stop ID: 5824). From this location, park visitors should travel uphill along NW Thurman Street approximately 1,400ft to the trailhead, which is marked by a small parking area, gate, and interpretive sign. Note that this route requires travel along a residential road with a significant grade. Both sides of the road along this route have adjacent sidewalk. Traffic along this stretch of road varies depending on the time of day and weather, but can be heavy for a residential street during times when there are many visitors to the trailhead.  

Trailhead Amenities

The Leif Erikson Drive / Thurman Street trailhead features a park gate, a water fountain that can be used by people using wheelchairs, a wooden bench, an interpretive sign, and bicycle parking. There is also a doggie bag dispenser and a garbage can. There are no restrooms at the trailhead, however there are porta-potties approximately .3 miles up Leif Erikson Drive.  

A trailhead area, with a green gate and fencing, two individuals using wheelchairs behind the gate, and three individuals standing behind the fence, all surrounded by trees and other vegetation.
Some of the trailhead amenities, including the gate, bicycle parking, garbage can, and interpretive sign.
A green fence surrounds a concrete water fountain and plaque base, next to a wooden bench with a wet park road surface underneath and with trees, green vegetation, and some cars in the background.
Water fountain, bench, and plaque at the trailhead.

Description of Trail

Leif Erikson Drive begins at the park gate, at the end of NW Thurman Street. The width of the gate opening is 44 inches.

Two people in the foreground look at the surface of a park road, which is hard-packed, keyed-in gravel with one side wet and muddy, with people on the road in the distance, surrounded by trees and other green vegetation.
Typical conditions on Leif Erikson Drive during a wet spring.

Traversing the park road from its beginning, park users will encounter road surface characterized by worn cobblestones embedded in hard-packed dirt, with occasional pieces of asphalt protruding from the road surface that can be avoided. There are also some slight depressions in the road surface due to water puddling. The road is quite wide, with an average grade of 3.5% and a maximum grade of 7.8% for less than 50 linear feet.

There is a steep drop-off to the side of the road on the downhill slope for much of the length of the road described in this profile. There is no fence between the road and the drop-off. Along some sections of the road, the drop-off flattens out a bit. There is considerable ivy and other vegetation covering the terrain as it drops off.

About 450 feet from the beginning of the park road, park visitors will encounter a seasonal spring that can create a wet surface on the side of the road and on parts of the road itself as the water crosses the road.

At the first switchback turn, park users may hear the sound of a creek running under the road with an outlet on the inside of the turn. At this location, there is loose gravel wash with exposed rock. Park visitors are advised to stay to the outside or uphill side of the road at this point, where the grade is approximately 2% higher. For the additional switchback turns before the ¼ mile marker, park visitors may choose to stay to the outside or uphill side of each turn for the smoothest terrain.

Just after this first switchback turn, approximately 900 feet from the beginning of the park road, there is a section of slightly more rough, uneven terrain with an increase in grade – maximum 7%, for approximately 150 linear feet.

Cobblestones protrude slightly and sporadically from a park road that is hard-packed surface of keyed-in gravel, with green vegetation on either side of the road.
An example of the more uneven terrain of Leif Erikson Drive.

Just after the ¼ mile marker, approximately 1,400 feet from the beginning of the road, the road surface transitions from cobble in hard-packed dirt to a paved hard surface. Park visitors may prefer to stay to the left or outside of the road at this terrain transition.

Two people walk along a wet park road at a point where the surface of the road turns from paved to hard-packed, keyed-in gravel. The road is surrounded by trees and vegetation on either side.
The change in surface terrain from hard-packed, keyed-in gravel and cobble stones to paved surface along Leif Erikson Drive just before the intersection with the Wild Cherry Trail.

Approximately 250 feet after this transition, park visitors will encounter a junction with the Wild Cherry Trail, as well as bicycle parking, a garbage can, and porta-potties. There is not currently a bench at this area. This is a fine place to turnaround for a short hike, or park visitors may continue up Leif Erikson Drive or connect to dirt trail using one of the connector trails accessed from this popular park road.

Two people are standing and one sitting in a wheelchair on a wide paved road, with three porta-potties, a garbage can, and bicycle staples in the distance, surrounded by trees and other green vegetation.
The suggested turnaround location, with wide paved surface, porta-potties, garbage can, and bicycle parking at the junction with the Wild Cherry Trail.

Signage and Wayfinding

A wooden structure displays signs in green and yellow describing Forest Park’s ecology and the history of Leif Erikson Drive, next to a dog bag dispenser, with trees and green vegetation in the background.
Interpretive signs at the Leif Erikson Drive trailhead.

Operations and Maintenance

Portland Parks & Recreation strives to maintain the trailhead, trailhead amenities, trails, and surrounding natural area to provide a safe experience for all users.

Be aware that wind, rain, and high water can leave trails and roads a bit of a mess with hazards like downed trees, landslides, and flooding. Portland Parks & Recreation addresses weather-related impacts as soon as resources allow. Visit Trail Closures and Delays for current information. 


For information about PP&R's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Title II, visit the Portland Parks & Recreation Civil Rights protections webpage.