BOOK: Portland Hill Walks (new edition)

If anyone out there owns a copy of Laura Foster‘s Portland Hill Walks: Twenty Explorations in Parks and Neighborhoods (2005), it’s time to update. Last spring, she published a new addition, adding several new walks and updates throughout:

Laura O. Foster, Portland Hill Walks: 24 Explorations in Parks and Neighborhoods (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2013), 298 pp.

Portland’s love affair with Laura Foster’s entertaining, enlightening, and always fun hill walks began with a book the Salem Statesman Journal called “a treasure of information, one of the best guidebooks in many years.” Now a sparkling new edition offers five new walks in addition to the well-loved classics, with all new contemporary photos, more historical images, and easier-to-follow directions. But it’s the vintage Foster observations – the hidden histories revealed – that will open your eyes to adventures where others see only dead ends.

Portland hill walks are mini-vacations with views, street-corner discoveries, poetically decrepit stairways, leafy byways, urban forest explorations, and, always, places to sit, eat, and soak in the local scene. These 24 walks are meticulously mapped yet full of options. Whether you feel like meandering through old streetcar neighborhoods or climbing a lava dome, there is a hill walk for every mood. New walks take you up to Willamette Stone State Park, across the St. Johns Bridge, down to the South Waterfront (with a ride on the aerial tram), along a stream in Gresham, and up Mounts Talbert and Scott.

I am happy to add this book to our resources for exploring in Portland (we did not have a copy of the first edition), and while we have indeed walked along many of the routes Foster describes, we’ll use Portland Hill Walks to explore new places and enrich our understanding of the various neighborhoods and sites thanks to her knowledge of Portland history. “I think of myself and people who like my books as forensic pedestrians,” Foster writes, “really looking at and trying to figure out what it was that shaped the landscape and our neighborhoods, why it happened, and when.” More than just a walking guide, Portland Hill Walks is a guide to living in Portland, and it seems like bringing this book along on walks will be like having one’s own personal tour guide.

Laura Foster is also the author of Portland City Walks: Twenty Explorations In and Around Town, The Portland Stairs Book, and Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver. On September 12, she will lead a Southwest Portland walk for the City of Portland’s Ten Toe Express. Details can be found here. Be sure to check out her blog, Portland Walks & Urban Hikes!

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