Steps outside of downtown Portland, Oregon are the remnants of what turns out to be neither a castle nor a witch's lair. It does however have a great backstory and an easy hike to get to.
History of Witch's Castle
Writing this post in October seems fittingly but it is with regret that I say no actual witches ever lived here. The story goes back to the mid 1800s when Danford Balch bought a large portion of property near developing Portland in nowadays Macleay Park.
Long story short (read more here at Atlas Obscura) Balch's daughter wanted to marry a man who lived on the property and Balch refused, countering with, if he ever did, he would kill him. The two ran away to be married and when they returned Balch made good on his promise by shooting the man in the face aboard the Stark Street Ferry.
This ultimately led to Danford Balch being the first legal execution in Oregon and the state seized his property.
The land became a park and around the mid 1930s the stone building was erected as a park ranger office and visitor bathroom facilities. The building became damaged in a 1962 storm and has been left abandoned since.
About The Hike
The castle can be reached a number of ways through the park pathways with the most direct being from the NW Cornell Road parking lot. This is the trailhead for the Wildwood Trail which when followed a half mile down into the park you will reach the castle.
The park has a surprisingly dense forest setting for it's location near downtown Portland. The trees are typical pacific northwest conifers covered with moss and lush ferns and ivy line the trailside.
The trail is a double-wide and graded pathway suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities. It's the style you would imagine of a city park but with the addition of a forest setting.
The Witch's Castle is directly on path of the Wildwood Trail making it easy accessible and easy to find.
Enjoy walking around the castle remains and stairs, you can continue along the pathways further once finished or head back the way you came in.
Getting There and Important Information
Recently as of September 2021 NW Cornell Road has been closed to thru-traffic for construction. Ignore these signs because you're headed to the parking lot and is located before the bridge being renovated. (This is if coming from the west, you may be unable to reach the parking from the east at this time)
The park is free to use and to park at, this is an urban environment so no camping or overnight parking are allowed here.
The trailhead parking area has portapotty bathroom facilities and garbage cans.
©Copyright 2020-2021 Secret Hike
Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map (embedgooglemap.net) and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.
This website is provided for entertainment purposes only, and is not meant to serve as an instructional guide, or present itself as an authority for any of the locations written about. The locations mentioned, written, and photographed herein are nothing more than my personal adventure archive. If you are interested in visiting any locations you should not depend on the information in this website to plan any excursions. You should research a wide variety of informational sources, websites, hiking guide books and maps found elsewhere. Many locations are dangerous and potentially illegal to access which can lead to fines, injury or death even when prepared. I do not encourage anyone to trespass or put themselves or others in way of harm. This website, and therefore its’ owner/author, cannot assume any responsibility for anything you may incur while hiking or exploring any of these locations or anywhere on planet earth. Thank you for viewing!