Mt. Tabor is a dormant cinder cone volcano within Portland city limits. The area includes hiking trails, a few memorials to Oregon settlers and to the geological history of the volcano, a public park, and a dog park. The area does have bathrooms and water fountains scattered throughout the park, and also a few pavilions for gatherings. The short hiking trails are accessible for all skill levels and ages, but can feature quick, steep elevation gains. The area is very popular and used by hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and often longboarders.
There is a parking lot at the main visitor center, but parking fills up quickly. This is especially true when there are special events going on at Mount Tabor. One of the more unique events is the park’s annual Portland’s Adult Soap Box Derby, taking advantage of the area's long downhill road to race homemade, gravity-driven derby cars.
Walking to the top of Mt. Tabor can be as easy as just following whichever road you pull up into. The area has fairly limited paths, making it easy to navigate. There are three official hiking loops: the Red Trail, Green Trail, and Blue Trail. They all start and end at the kiosk next to the main parking area in the northwest area of the park. The Red and Green Trails are the easier, shorter of the three. The 3-mile Blue Trail is a loop offering a more intensive exploration of Mount Tabor. The trails aren’t always marked the best, but you can download a map or print this one here: http://media.wix.com/ugd/91bb26_a0da0c0eccc84fd6880aa9bf2dc4692e.pdf.
The Blue Trail takes you around all three reservoirs in the area. Once beyond Reservoir 1, the trail becomes steep as it approaches the summit of Mount Tabor. The summit loop, while listed as optional on the map, is well worth the easy 0.31 miles. The summit includes a statue of Northwest pioneer Harvey W. Scott, also a long-time editor of The Oregonian. There is also an old, Tudor-style bathroom building that is now closed.
The easier 1.7-mile Green loop and 1-mile Red loop are not only shorter, but feature almost no elevation gain by not summiting Mount Tabor. The entire Red loop and parts of Green loop are paved and multi-use, so be aware of fast-descending bicyclists or skateboarders! The Green loop runs next to the dog park for those with furry friends needing a play area.
Mount Tabor is part of the Boring Lava Field--a network of cinder cones and small shield volcanoes spanning from Boring, Oregon up to southwest Washington. Volcanic activity from 2.4 to 2.6 million years ago created the lava field from dispersed lava flows. Mount Tabor is one of four dormant cinder cones from the Boring Lava Field within Portland’s city limits. The other three are Rocky Butte, Powell Butte, and Kelly Butte. This makes Portland just one of four cities in the United States that has extinct volcanoes within its boundaries.
The volcanic nature of Mount Tabor wasn’t known until 1912. At this point the city had already placed its reservoirs and a public park there. The mount was named by Plympton Kelly, son of Oregon City pioneer. Mount Tabor was named after Mount Tabor, Israel. All existing Boring Volcanic centers are currently extinct, and eruption is unlikely.