Most Portland hikers are content with the 70 miles of developed trails in Forest Park. Not Jim Thayer. After five years of exploration, the 58-year-old BACKPACKER reader finished pioneering a 160-mile route from the park to the Pacific Ocean–without spending a contiguous mile on pavement.
It's a zigzag of logging roads, trails, and a bit of bushwhacking for good measure.
Over the course of 200 Saturday mornings, he thwacked his way through more than 30 small watersheds, then determined which roads yielded a passage to other walkable paths leading west. Over time, he learned a wise tactic: "I bring rose pruners, which are small and cut brambles far better than any machete or hatchet." Find more info at thayers.org.