Like many Portlanders, the dream of outdoor adventure is part of what attracted Henry Pittock to the Northwest. As a young man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he read an account of a rafting adventure on Idaho’s Snake River in his local newspaper and was inspired to head west. Over the decades, Henry approached the outdoors with as much passion and drive as he did his business pursuits. An avid hiker, climber, and bicycler, Henry loved the outdoors and encouraged his family and community to enjoy the outdoors as well.
Henry chose Pittock Mansion’s location because of its forested setting and outstanding view of the Cascade Range. He enjoyed exploring the forest behind the Mansion and clearing hiking trails. The mattock Henry used to clear brush is in the Pittock Mansion collection. James Skene, the Pittocks’ estate steward, said Henry also kept a small axe in the Cloak Room and would take it with him on walks to maintain the trails. Henry named one of his trails the Georgiana Trail in honor of his wife. The Georgiana Trail ran along the hillside north of the Mansion and Garage towards what is now Macleay Park.
Henry and his daughters Lucy and Kate were avid mountain climbers and belonged to the Mazamas mountaineering club. Henry was a part of the first authenticated climb to Mount Hood’s summit, and climbed other major peaks in the Northwest including Mount Rainer and Mount McLoughlin. Henry also financially supported expeditions when he was unable to join in the climb itself. He helped fund exploration on Alaska’s Mount McKinley in 1910 and in recognition, a ridge on the side of Mount McKinley was named “Pittock Ridge.”
In the late 1800s, the bicycle came into vogue and Henry helped start the Oregon Road Club, a cycling and road improvement organization. In a 1906 letter, Henry’s daughter Caroline wrote: “Father is as much of a wheel rider as ever takes a spin nearly every Sunday. Was out here over Sunday a week ago having ridden his wheel out and back to town–42 miles.”
Henry’s passion for the outdoors never waned. He climbed Larch Mountain, elevation 4,061 feet, in 1915 when he was 80 years old. When one of his younger companions suggested the group stop to rest, Henry demonstrated the determination that led him to his success in business by replying: “I’ve noticed that the fellow who stops to rest never gets anywhere.”