You might not think that a short trail system located only six miles from downtown Portland would offer good riding, but you’d be dead wrong. Tryon Creek State Park may be an urban “bridle path” kind of place, but Portland-area riders appreciate the beautiful forest surroundings, the graveled trails that offer non-slip footing even after heavy winter rains, and the tree canopy that in summer offers an oasis of shade.
Tryon Creek State Park, located near Lewis and Clark College in Portland’s West Hills, is situated in the deep ravine carved by Tryon Creek.
The creek flows through the middle of the park, and both of the horse trail loops run down to Tryon Creek. The two loop trails meet at the Big Bridge, creating a three-mile figure eight. Two additional out-and-back trails lead to nearby neighborhoods, so they don’t offer destinations but they do provide additional mileage. The trails each feature about 200 feet of elevation gain/loss, so while the ride is short your pony will get a bit of a workout.
You’ll be sharing the trails at Tryon Creek with hikers and dog walkers, who vastly outnumber the horseback riders and who are probably not familiar with horses.
You will be an ambassador for the entire horse community when you ride, so be friendly and accommodating to your fellow trail users. And before you go you’ll need to desensitize your horse to urban “trail challenges” like strollers, umbrellas, and on-leash dogs.
To create a 5-mile ride, follow one side of the North Horse Loop, cross the High Bridge, ride the entire West Horse Loop with detours on the out-and-back Boones Ferry and Englewood Trails, re-cross the High Bridge, and return to the trailhead via the other side of the North Horse Loop.
The footing is great, even in wet weather, so your biggest hazard will be the people, dogs, and strollers you share the trail with.
Local equestrians have worked hard to retain equestrian access to the park and ensure that trailer parking is available. As you ride, you can mentally thank these hard-working volunteers for the opportunity to ride in such a pretty place. Please clean up after your horse at the trailhead so equestrians can stay in the good graces of the park’s other users.
Ride Statistics: 4 miles of easy horse trails, with several possible loop options. Elevations are 110 to 350 feet. Stock water is available at the trailhead. The trails are graveled, so hoof protection is recommended. You can find a map of the trails by Googling “Tryon Creek State Park map.”
Getting to the Trailheads: Located 6 miles south of downtown Portland. From the north, drive south on I-5 and take Exit 297 toward Terwilliger Blvd. Merge onto SW Barbur Blvd., and in 0.1 mile turn right on SW Terwilliger Blvd. Go 1.6 miles and at the traffic circle take the second exit to stay on Terwilliger Blvd. The park is 0.8 mile ahead on the right. From the south, take Exit 297 (Terwilliger Blvd.) Turn right on Terwilliger and go 1.5 miles, then at the traffic circle take the second exit to stay on Terwilliger Blvd. The park is 0.8 mile ahead on the right.
Trailhead Facilities: Toilet, stock water, hitching posts, handicapped-access loading ramp. If hikers’ cars haven’t filled up the equestrian parking area, you’ll find room for 4 or 5 trailers. If you are planning to bring three or more trailers to the park, call 503-636-9886 ext. 222 to make prior arrangements.
More Information: The Tryon Creek trails are covered in the Tryon Creek State Park chapter of Riding Northwest Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2013).