I learned about Portland’s 4T’s urban adventure loop last year from my sister, who took my mom in June. You can start anywhere along the route and by the time you’re done you’ll have ridden the MAX train, hopped on the Portland streetcar (trolley), enjoyed the view from the OHSU sky tram, and hiked part of the Marquam Trail.
It sounded awesome! Something the Chaos Team would definitely be up for–but how? It’s not easy to do a four-hour adventure loop with a toddler and a baby. We take way longer than posted times for everything. And we travel like the 6 train up the East Side–stopping at every block.
But my husband’s family was coming to town and they’re up for pretty much anything, so we thought with four extra adults this could surely be accomplished. And if we had nice weather, I could continue my you-should-move-to-Portland propaganda, because the loop shows off some great views of the city and gives a full sense of Portland’s enchanted terrain.
I’m here to say the 4T’s with kids is definitely doable! You really only need one adult per child going, but more is great. And if you have kids who can handle walking 4.5 miles without being picked up, then the sky is your limit.
Tips for doing Portland’s 4T’s with young kids:
Pray for lovely weather. (And to be clear, lovely weather includes clouds, a fine mist, scattered showers–pretty much anything besides unabating rain mixed with torrential downpours and thick fog. This is Oregon, people.)
Definitely say a few prayers to the weather gods before you go, even if the forecast says sun. The morning we went was drizzly but manageable. Still, we decided to save the “trail” for the end in hopes the morning fog in the hills would let up–and it did!
Have a rain plan (I know, right now it’s lovely weather, but any day the rain will return!). Die-hard Oregonians won’t have a problem doing the whole shebang in any weather, but if conditions are too much for your crew, simply cut out the trail.
Start on the MAX train, take the street car to the aerial tram, ride it up the hill, and then retrace your steps. It will take about the same amount of time. To spice it up, you can always take a bus back. Or a pedi-cab?? Or a long board, or an electric car, or a unicycle… Be creative: Oregon is all about alternative transportation.
Pack snacks and water, but not lunch. What’s more fun than sampling a few things from the food carts next to The Galleria on 9th Ave and Alder? Or taking out-of-towners to the original Old Spaghetti Factory on Bancroft Street at the South Waterfront? Or getting all nostalgic and heading to Jake’s Famous Crawfish?
Regroup near a good bathroom. Pioneer Courthouse Square is a great place rest and regroup. The visitors center on the west side of the plaza has bathrooms, the step/seats are always plentiful, and if you’re in the square at noon, you can see the weather vane change and play its music.
Kids love watching the trains and buses pass by, and visitors can play I Spy to find the quintessential Portland markers: the statue of the man with the umbrella, the permanent glass umbrellas (notice a theme?), the global destinations signpost, and the “fallen” column. The Square is located between Broadway and 6th Avenue, and Morrison and Yamhill.
If it’s too rainy to rest and regroup outside, try finding some shelter in the Anne Hughes Coffee Room at Powell’s or at The Galleria.
Bring an extra back pack. If you’re like us, you won’t be able to resist a book or two at Powell’s or a bag of Chili 3000 at Penzey’s Spices. You could probably stuff your extra swag into the diaper bag or hiking back pack you brought along (you did bring it along, right?), but it’s nice to have multiple small packs so that everyone in the group can carry a little, rather than one sherpa carrying the whole load.
Ditch the stroller, and bring packs for the kids. Baby Woww was obviously in a carrier, but K-Pants usually walks or rides at this point. However, his little legs weren’t going to hold up very well over four miles.
Let us know how it goes and what thoughts and tips you would add for others!