Our Top Picks for Best Hiking Near Downtown Portland
April 12, 2021
It’s no secret that Portland is home to a plethora of green spaces, city parks, outdoor gear junkies, and hiking enthusiasts. Year round, Portlanders lace up their trail shoes and enjoy a vast network of hiking opportunities in beautiful forests right in their own backyards. While the local population certainly boasts a willingness to hike even in the soggiest of Portland winters, no one complains when warmer weather and springtime sunshine finally land in Bridge City!
There are a ton of options in Portland for hiking, ranging from quick, lunch-break jaunts to full length, (we are talking marathons here, people!) all day, your feet are killing you but you are “oh-so-happy” adventures. We thought we would list a few of our favorites, just to get you started:
- Wildwood Trail – Forest Park & Washington Park
This trail is by far one of the most well known and most heavily trafficked trails in Portland, and for good reason! Part of both the Washington & Forest Park trail systems, this trail is 30.2 miles long and as you might have guessed, was the inspiration for the Wildwood Adventures name. The trail is easily accessible from multiple points within Portland and can be completed comfortably in about 3 full days if you really need to check that off your list! Most folks simply hike short segments of the trail, and it is a fun project to slowly piece each segment of the trail together over time.
Highlights on the route include Portland’s Audubon Society, Hoyt Arboretum, and some spectacular city views from the gardens and grounds of the Pittock Mansion.
Learn more about the trail by checking out the Forest Park Conservancy website. If you are interested in checking out some of the great destinations along the Wildwood Trail with a guided tour, Wildwood Adventures offers a four-hour Portland City Tour that is available to the public, and can also organize private tours for a more customized experience.
- Mt. Tabor– Views from a volcano!
That’s right! Mt. Tabor is an extinct volcano turned city park! Its location in SE Portland makes Portland one of only 4 cities in the United States to boast having an extinct volcano within city limits. From various viewpoints of the city, Mt. Tabor, a cylinder covered in tall Douglas firs, can be seen dotted with cherry blossoms and dogwood flowers in the spring. Locals converge here to run the seemingly milelong staircase to the top in lieu of a day at the gym, to lounge in the shade of tall trees on hot summer days, or to enjoy a game of basketball or tennis on one of the courts. Here, in what feels like Portland’s back yard, you will also find a small but sweet trail system that merits putting on your hiking shoes!
There are several entrances into the park on various sides of the “mountain.” We recommend starting at the entrance on SE Salmon Street, which turns into SE Reservoir Loop Drive as it continues into the park. Street parking along this road is free and typically not too difficult to come by. From here, we recommend traveling south along the sand and gravel pathway that encircles one of the reservoirs. At this point, if your timing is right, you’ll see a long row of perfectly placed cherry trees whose blossoms make for a perfect photo backdrop. There are lots of trail options that will take you all the way to the top, and believe us, it’s worth the climb! Continue along on a trail of your choosing and make your way to the summit where your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views of Portland city center to the west and Mt. Hood (on a cloudless day) to the east. Pro-tip—these stunning views are EVEN MORE epic during sunrise (for you early birds) and at sunset.
- Tryon Creek State Park
Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Portland, Tryon Creek State Park is 658 acres of second-growth forests centered around (yes, you guessed it!) Tryon Creek. Tryon Creek State Park is Oregon’s only state park to lie within Metro limits and has 8 miles of trail for hikers to choose from – and 3.5 miles of trails accessible for equestrians on horseback! Trails are maintained year-round, but can get soggy during the winter, so make sure to plan accordingly with appropriate footwear.
There are several entrances to the park, but to give you the most options, we suggest starting at the main entrance located on Terwilliger Blvd. Parking is fairly plentiful but can fill up early on a sunny Saturday or Sunday. From the parking lot, you can start by making a short stop at the Visitor’s Center, where you can learn more about the trails, hiking options, and the native flora and fauna of the park.
Then from there, choose your own adventure! For bird enthusiasts, we recommend bringing along a pair of binoculars and a bird-identification book. The park is home to an array of native bird species, but some of our favorites are the elusive Barred Owls and the largest of the woodpeckers, the Pileated Woodpecker, which sticks out against the green foliage with its bright red feathers. For a full list of resident creatures, check out the pamphlet put out by Friends of Tryon Creek here. In the springtime, these shady trails are the perfect place to see blooming Trillium flowers blanketing the forest floor in shades of white, pink, and purple.
Wherever you end up going, we hope you have a wonderful time exploring the plentiful green spaces around the city!