Friends of Marquam Nature Park – Protecting Portland’s Scenic Beauty

For those who don’t know, Marquam Nature Park is a beautiful, natural wooded area, away from the bustle of city life, and yet it is within the city of Portland itself.  

We mention Marquam Nature Park in our article, Best Walking Trails in Portland, Oregon.

It’s hard not to love Marquam Nature Park.  There are a number of trails suitable for hiking, biking, running, and walking. Along the way, you’ll see all varieties of natural beauty including all manner of trees (bigleaf maple, Douglas fir, red cedar and western hemlock) and wildlife (mainly deer and other smaller critters).

The trails can be considered somewhat difficult (as they can get hilly), depending on your level of mobility, and yet they are tread upon by thousands per year who enjoy being surrounded by natural splendour.  Those who manage the hills are rewarded with some really nice views!

Marquam Nature Park is a perfect series of trails for kids because walks can be kept brief and there are enough trash cans and signs to keep you from feeling lost or weighed down by candy bar wrappers. 🙂

Here is a view of one of the trails, thanks to beardedfatloss.

Here is a map showing where Marquam Nature Park is located.

As you can see from the above map, the park is located south-west of downtown Portland, but well within city limits.

The park is owned by Portland Park and Recreation, who purchased the park in 1989 from Friends of Marquam Nature Park, who recognized the value of this tract of beautiful natural land in 1968, as a large urban development threatened to move in and bulldoze the entire area.

Since 1968, the Friends of Marquam have been the spiritual stewards of this land, which contains over 200 acres of raw natural beauty and 7 miles of trails for the community to enjoy.

Here is a view of the park on a rain day, courtesy of the Oregonian.

We found it fascinating that the Marquam Nature Park exists today due to the efforts of the Friends of Marquam, and we decided to do some investigating to see how things came to be, as this tract of land could easily be condos or additional roadways today.

Instead, the land has been preserved and maintained through community efforts.  We truly appreciate all of this because we here at this website are huge advocates for walking, hiking, and mobility in general.

Here is a map of Marquam Nature Park so you can get an idea of the scope of the trails and where they lead.

Image source:

So how were the Marquam Nature Park able to be preserved over the decades, in the face of ever-present urban development?  

In the beginning, it was 6 women who were neighbours living in south west Portland, who were environmentally conscious, and, in the spirit of the times, resistant to the idea that urban sprawl was simply an inevitability which could not be stopped, especially when it came to the Marquam Nature Park. 

One of these women was Barbara Farrow Walker, who was also responsible for several other important greenspace initiatives, including the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Springwater Corridor, and the 4T system.

Here is Barbara leading a group along the trails.

Image source: The Outdoor Project

Marquam Nature Park is known as the third largest park in Portland, and it is a welcome escape to those who live in the city and need to get back to nature.  This was the initial goal of the Friends of Marquam, and it remains the goal currently and for the foreseeable future.  

According to the FMNP (Friends of Marquam Nature Park) website, one of the main goals of the park at the outset was accessibility to the community by adding strategic trailheads that were easy to access for everyone, from cars, to bikes, to on-foot traffic.  If one scrutinizes the trail map posted above (and on, we would say this dream of accessibility for all was achieved nicely.

Another goal made by FMNP was to connect the trail to the trails first envisioned by New York’s Central Park creators, the Olmstead Brothers, called the 40-Mile Loop.

Accolades should be given to the Friends of Marquam Nature Park for their relentless fight to keep this natural oasis for the people of the city.