One thing new parents have to become very good at very quickly is multitasking. Breastfeeding while cooking dinner and wrangling your two-year old? No problem. Watching tv while folding laundry and talking on the phone? Sure, why not. Doing a yoga video while playing with your children? Well that one’s a bit harder – unless you like to add the weight of your children to your child’s pose.
Enter: the jogging stroller. With the stroller, you can fit in your dose of exercise while your children are safely strapped in with their coloring books and snacks.
Below we’ve gathered seven of our favorite Portland-area stroller-friendly jogs, from easy to more challenging. They give you the right amount of scenery, variety and people watching, while giving your kids a smooth paved ride. Win-win.
Willamette Greenway Trail (SW Macadam Ave.). This trail travels along the west side of the Waterfront, stopping and starting back up again at numerous points. One of the loveliest and quietest is the stretch around Willamette Park. From Willamette Park (which is pay to park), head north for about 1.4 miles, until you get to the back end of the Rosswood restaurant. Along the way you’ll see up-close views of the river, with bridges and the skyline in the distance, and even a beaver statue (often in costume). You can continue past the restaurant, but the trail breaks up just a bit further down at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and goes to city streets before coming back to paved trail before the Hawthorne Bridge.
Laurelhurst Park (SE Oak and SE 39th Ave.). If you haven’t been to Laurelhurst Park in a while, you may be surprised at how big it is. Across the street from the playground area of the park is a second park, full of grassy fields, great climbing trees and a lovely duck pond – complete with turtles. The paved path that goes around the park is just under a mile – perfect for those just getting back into exercising – or you can add on by veering off onto various smaller paths.
Gabriel Park (SW 45th Ave an SW Vermont). 87-acre Gabriel Park has both paved and soft surface trails to get your jog on. A loop around the interior paved trail is about a mile, with some gentle elevation gains. You’ll be treated to views of two creeks, tall trees and lots and lots of dogs – great entertainment for your little passenger.
Springwater Corridor by Oaks Park (enter by SE Spokane). The Springwater Corridor is a portion of the 40-mile loop, extending along the east side of the Willamette River beginning just north of the Ross Island Bridge. While there are about 12 miles of paved trail making up the Springwater (with plans to eventually have 21 miles of paved path), some portions are decidedly safer than others. One of the safer segments is the stretch that parallels the Brooklyn, Westmoreland and Sellwood neighborhoods. You can park at Sellwood Park and jog toward the river down Spokane. You’ll hit the trail just after the 3.5 mile marker. You can jog all the way down to OMSI for a flat, 7 mile-ish out and back, or turn around anywhere along the way. The mile markers make for a great way to test your speed and endurance.
Waterfront Bridges Loop (park near OMSI). The traditional loop – from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge – is just about 2.5 miles. The loop is relatively flat, though you do get some elevation gain on the bridges and on portions of the east side – especially when the tide is low. A great run for losing track of the running bit as you people watch, bridge gaze and take in views of the Willamette. You can extend this run by going from the Steel Bridge all the way over to the Tilikum Bridge – this will add about two miles, but it will also put you on streets for a portion of the run. Beware — that Tillikum Bridge hill is rough!
Mt Tabor (SE Salmon Dr. and SE North Tabor Dr.). If you’re ready for an intense, hill-heavy workout, Mt Tabor is a great option. Much of Mt. Tabor is paved, making it stroller accessible. But true to its name, Mt Tabor is also, well, mountainous. Park at the visitors’ center (near the basketball courts) and head up toward the caldera for some great views. From the visitors center around the caldera once and back down is about 1.2 miles. Each trip around the caldera is an additional .3. You can make the workout truly intense by breaking off to the left on your way back down to the visitor center. Follow the path around to the bottom of the reservoir and back up (up up up) to get you back to where you started. The total distance for that one is about 2.2 sweat-inducing miles. Note: The park is closed to cars on Wednesdays – which makes for a quieter jog but also not quite as close parking.
Marine Drive. (Various entry points, depending on your route.) Although the entire Marine Drive path covers over 12 miles, it is divided by I-5, which makes running the whole trail a bit tricky. (Though perhaps that’s a good thing?!) Both the east and west portions are great options. The east side, which is about 7.5 miles out and back, gives you great views of the Columbia. And – added bonus for the kiddos in the stroller – even better views of nearby landing planes. You can park at Broughton Beach, but be sure to bring money for parking ($5). This portion of the trail is not shaded, and can get windy, so be prepared. The west side is less urban, beginning at Kelly Point Park and continuing to the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area and just beyond I-5. A totally different experience. Up to the I-5 break is about 5.5 miles.
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