Portland is home to more than 200 delightful parks of all sizes and styles — but only one is built atop a volcano. In fact, Portland is one of six American cities with an extinct volcano within its limits, thanks to the 636-foot-tall (194 m) Mount Tabor. Experience this novelty for yourself by exploring 191-acre (77 ha) Mt. Tabor Park, a century-old public space known for its open-air reservoirs, its annual Adult Soapbox Derby and, yes, its volcanic cinder cone.
Know Before You Go
Mt. Tabor Park offers ADA accessible picnic sites, restrooms and play areas, as well as paved paths up to the summit.
Mt. Tabor Park History
Named after an Israeli peak of the same name, Portland’s Mount Tabor became a city park in 1909. Parks superintendent Emanuel Tillman Mische consulted with famous landscape architect John C. Olmsted to create a design for the site, which included several walking trails, gently curving roads, long flights of stairs and plenty of space to showcase native plants.
A few years later, construction workers found volcanic cinders in the park, which were used to pave the park’s pathways. That’s right — you’re walking or rolling on ancient lava from Mount Tabor itself!
Mount Tabor Reservoirs
Between 1894–1911, Portland built four open reservoirs on the slopes of Mount Tabor. For decades, these structures supplied water to residents across the city. In 1990, the city sold one of the reservoirs to private developers; the other three reservoirs have since been decommissioned. These days, the enormous reservoirs, which were accepted to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, simply provide a scenic backdrop to your park activities.
Mount Tabor Summit
At the mountain’s summit, you’ll enjoy spectacular views across southeast Portland, with the city skyline and West Hills in the distance. Grab a seat on one of the benches here and watch a summer sunset. Nearby, stands a towering bronze statue of Portlander Harvey W. Scott, who edited The Oregonian newspaper for four decades. Dedicated in 1933, it was created by Gutzon Borglum, better known for creating South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore National Monument.
Mt. Tabor Park Trails
A mixture of footpaths and paved roads crisscross Mount Tabor, making it easy to start a hike (or stroll) from any point in the park. Need a bit more direction? Choose from among three official trails: the 1-mile (1.6 km) Red Trail, 1.7-mile (2.7 km) Green Trail, and 3-mile (4.8 km) Blue Trail. Find trail maps online.
PDX Adult Soapbox Derby
Built in 1956, Mount Tabor’s youth soapbox derby course had gone unused for decades until 1997, when Portlander Paul Zenk founded the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby. Every year, on the third Saturday in August, dozens of daring amateur racers zoom down Mount Tabor, competing to become the fastest (or most artistic or crowd-pleasing) derby car on the slope. The free event draws crowds of up to 10,000 cheering spectators; visit soapboxracer.com for more information and up-to-date event details.
Mt. Tabor Park Amenities
In addition to leafy trails and unique sights, Mt. Tabor Park offers visitors a wide array of amenities. Entertainment options include a basketball court, horseshoe pit, playground, volleyball and tennis courts, and an outdoor amphitheater. A fenced, off-leash dog park is also located at the base of the hill. ADA-accessible picnic areas, play areas and restrooms are available throughout the park.
Visiting Mt. Tabor Park
Mt. Tabor Park is open from 5 a.m. to midnight daily. The park is bordered by SE Division Street to the south, SE 60th Avenue to the west, Southeast Yamhill Street to the north, and Southeast Mountainview Drive to the east. Street parking and parking lot access is available, but limited; visitors can also opt to take TriMet bus 15, which stops at Southeast 60th Avenue and Belmont Street, only a few blocks northwest of the park.