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12 Hikes in Portland You Shouldn’t Miss

12 Hikes in Portland You Shouldn’t Miss

It goes without saying that Portland, Oregon, with its location between two mountain ranges and the Willamette River Valley, is ideal for breathtaking hiking.

Plus the view is absolutely stunning! So why not go for a hike if you’re in the area? 

Plan your adventures with our list of the city’s best hiking trails.

1. Mount Tabor Loop Trail

The Mount Tabor Loop Trail is a short walk around the park that includes a steep set of stairs and a partially shared path with cyclists. You’ll almost certainly run into other people while exploring.

The majority of the trail is estimated to be of moderate difficulty, but there are steeper sections at approximately 0.1, 0.7, 0.8, and 1.6 miles when traveling clockwise. If you get tired easily, don’t worry because there are benches and picnic tables along the route where you can rest.

This loop trail can easily be accessed. There are accessible parking spaces in the paved parking lot off Southeast Salmon Way at the trail’s northern end. 

Mount Tabor Park now has an off-leash area in the southeast section near Warner Pacific University for canine friends to run free. Other amenities include monuments and public art, as well as volleyball and tennis courts.

Est. Time: 40 minutes

Level: Easy

Distance: 1.9 miles

2. Hoyt Arboretum Trails

The Hoyt Arboretum Trails are a great option for an easy hike near the city. 

Set out on this 2.1-kilometer loop trail, which takes about 36 minutes to complete on average. It begins at the beginning of the Wildwood Trail, which spans the entire park and is 30.2 miles long.

If you’re not planning to own a new vehicle any time soon, you can get there by taking the #63 bus line, which stops right at the trailhead. Every day of the year, from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM, the grounds are open to the public (for free). 

However, parking will cost you $2 or $8 for the entire day. If you want to do something other than a hike, you should know that this area is also popular for birdwatching and running.

For a quick background, the arboretum has been open since 1928, so there is a good chance you’ll see many mature trees. It is also a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, which makes it beautiful at any time of year, whatever the season.

Est. Time: 36 minutes

Level: Easy

Distance: 4.7 miles

3. Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion

Consider exploring this 8.0-kilometer out-and-back trail from Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion, which is generally regarded as moderately difficult. In fact, it is one of Portland’s most iconic urban hikes. 

The five-mile round trip hike takes hikers from city streets into the forest and to an iconic landmark in Portland history. It’s a good mixture of sightseeing and physical exercise on a good weekend. 

The trail begins at the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead and leads to the deep wonders of Forest Park. The trail then connects with the Wildwood Trail before ascending to Upper Macleay Park, gaining approximately 900 feet of elevation along the way. 

Following that, you can take a detour along the 2.5-mile hike up to the Portland Audubon Society, and from a short distance away is the Pittock Mansion.

If you have time, you can learn more about Pittock’s history by taking a more in-depth guided tour of the mansion (only available by appointment). 

Pittock Mansion’s impressive facade and landscaped gardens make it a worthwhile hiking destination, as does the great view of the city from their backyard.

Est. Time: 2 hours and 24 minutes

Level: Moderate

Distance: 5.7 miles

Washington Park Loop Hike

4. Washington Park Loop Hike

Washington Park is regarded as Portland’s natural-space focal point. And this loop hike will certainly follow the most popular and beautiful trails in Washington Park, connecting hikers to all of the area’s major sites and attractions.

The hikes start at the monuments and take you through the old zoo’s landscape before ascending to the Wildwood Trail, a section of the Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Japanese Garden, and Portland’s renowned International Rose Test Garden. 

And even though the walk is only four miles long, it invites numerous stops and explorations, so you could easily spend an entire day taking in the sights.

Speaking of which, there are many cultural attractions along the Washington Park Loop trail that invite detours. This includes an archery range, a kids’ museum, and a variety of monuments and statues.

Quick reminder: they don’t allow biking on the trails, while dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas. Just make sure your dogs are well-trained before letting them take off!

Est. Time: 1 hour and 24 minutes

Level: Easy 

Distance: 3.9 miles

5. Marquam Trail to Council Crest

The Marquam Nature Park Shelter is the starting point of one of the most popular routes up to Council Crest (the park is actually a common jumping-off point for other hikes in the area). 

The three-mile hike to Council Crest from Marquam requires a continuous ascent of uphill terrain with an elevation gain of more than 1,100 feet.

Since it’s surrounded by only Oregon-native trees, the Council Crest trail also offers a steady, easy, and consistent ascent through the legendary West Hills. 

Try to go there before sunset for the best experience so you can take in the view it offers. It will reveal a rich horizon of Cascade Mountain peaks – the perfect backdrop for a breathtaking photograph!

And while it provides an excellent viewpoint since it’s one of Portland’s highest points, hiking to the top is far more rewarding. It’s truly nature’s great work of art you need to see!

Est. Time: 50 minutes

Level: Easy 

Distance: 3.3 miles

6. Tryon Creek Outer Loop Hike

Tryon Creek State Natural Area encompasses both Portland and Lake Oswego and features a complex network of popular hiking, biking, and horse trails.

For hikers, the park has over 8 miles of hiking trails to choose from that wind down to Tryon Creek, where they can see beavers and other wildlife such as coyotes, red foxes, deer, skunks, and salamanders.

The Outer Loop Trail, on the other hand, is also used by hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. Hikers may want to give the right of way to horses and bikes for safety reasons, while also keeping their dog on a leash. 

It should be noted that the Terry Riley Bridge was destroyed by a fallen tree in 2021, and the Lewis and Clark Trail is currently closed. To complete the Outer Loop Hike, take the North Horse Loop rather than the Lewis and Clark Trail.

A few other trails have little elevation gain, but most require some climbing. There’s a picnic area right at the Nature Center if you want to stop by for a quick rest.

Est. Time: 2 hours

Level: Moderate

Distance: 5.7-mile loop

Mountain View and Wild Horse Trails Loop, Powell Butte Nature Park

7. Mountain View and Wild Horse Trails Loop, Powell Butte Nature Park

Powell Butte is an extinct cinder cone volcano in Portland surrounded by numerous hiking trails. The area is open to hikers, cyclists, and horse riders and is generally regarded as an easy route.

The Mountain View Trail, which connects with the Wild Horse Trail to form a 1.3-mile loop, is one of the best trails for exploring Powell Butte’s scenic attractions. Mountain View, on the other hand, connects to the park’s vast network of multi-use trails for a more extensive adventure.

Such scenic attractions include Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, and, most notably, Mount Hood. 

The best months to visit this trail are April through September, and make sure to choose a clear day to hike on so you can enjoy the many great vantage points overlooking the surrounding Cascade peaks.

Est. Time: 34 minutes

Level: Easy

Distance: 2.3-km loop

8. Wildwood Trail and Leif Erickson Drive Trail Loop, Forest Park

Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., boasting over 80 miles of trails. This park follows a section of the Wildwood Trail, a 30-mile natural surface hiking trail that spans the length of the park. 

One section of this hike is the Leif Erickson Drive, which shares the trail with cyclists, so be sure to keep your dog on a leash and your kids close by because riders can get going quite fast as they make their long descent.

A Wildwood Trail and Leif Erickson Drive Trail loop will be considered a moderately challenging route, making a total of 4.3 miles.

It’s even more difficult during the rainy season when the trail can become too muddy. That is why it is advised to wear high-quality footwear during this time.

Est. Time: 1 hour 47 minutes

Level: Easy-Moderate

Distance: 4.3 miles

9. Oaks Bottom Loop Hike

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge can provide you with a pleasant walk through a bird-filled wetland with a return trip along the Willamette River. 

Begin your hike at the Sellwood Park trailhead and proceed down a steep, often muddy embankment to Oaks Bottom for a more thrilling experience.

From there, follow the flat Bluff Trail past the refuge’s centerpiece to Wapato Marsh, which is home to a variety of ducks. 

The trail then loops around Tadpole Pond, and for a brief section, hikers will walk along the bicycle-friendly Springwater Corridor Trail (which makes a 40-mile loop around Portland) before returning to the starting point.

The Oaks Bottom Loop is a great urban hike that showcases the best of Portland’s natural environment. That and its easy location in the heart of the city.

Est. Time: 90 minutes

Level: Easy

Distance: 3.8 miles

Warrior Point (Sauvie Island)

10. Warrior Point (Sauvie Island)

Although you have to drive to the (almost) end of this long island to get to Sauvie Island from Portland, it is technically considered to be part of the city, so you can still consider hiking there. 

You must then hike the remaining 3.5 miles from where you park (a parking pass is required) to “Warrior Point,” the island’s actual tip. You will undoubtedly be astounded by the view that the Warrior Rock Lighthouse offers from there.

If you want to hike alone, this might be the ideal location for you because it’s a little further away and therefore less crowded. If you feel like swimming after the hike, go back the way you came and take a dip at Collins Beach.

Tip – although this hike can be done year-round, spring and fall are the best times to see newly blooming flowers in the area. There are also a ton of farms, so you can add some berry picking to your day’s activities there.

Est. Time: 1 hour 53 minutes

Level: Moderate (but only due to length)

Distance: 7 miles

11. Four T Trail

The Four T Trail is a distinctive, self-guided hike that takes you past some of Portland’s most notable attractions. To complete its loop, the route makes use of the train, trolley, tram, and hiking trails.

The Pioneer Courthouse Square serves as the trail’s official starting point. 

Followers can then take the MAX light rail to the Oregon Zoo and spend some time walking around the area. The next leg of the journey entails climbing the Marquam Trail for 1.3 miles to Council Crest.

4T signs point the way to the campus of Oregon Health and Science University from Council Crest. After that, you can take the Portland Aerial Tram from the campus so you can appreciate the beauty of the Willamette River more. 

Users board a Portland streetcar to complete the loop back to Pioneer Square at the tram’s endpoint.

Always remember to purchase a Tri-Met pass to ride the MAX Light Rail train and the Portland StreetCar trolley before beginning your hike. The tram that runs from OHSU to the South Waterfront also requires a ticket.

Est. Time: 4 hours 32 minutes

Level: Moderate

Distance: 10 miles, 4.2 miles (the hiking portion of the trail)

12. Forest Park Ridge Trail

You’ll be looking for a set of concrete stairs that mark the beginning of this hike. 

If you’re coming from the bridge, cross Bridge Avenue and turn left. If you’re coming from the parking lot, take Bridge Road up until you reach the stairs.

The breathtaking view of the St. Johns Bridge can be found along the first quarter-mile of the Forest Park Ridge Trail. 

Walking across what is regarded as Portland’s best bridge is actually quite an experience. From there, you will ascend through Forest Park’s closely spaced trees until you reach a road that serves as the turnaround.

All things considered, if you ever decide to hike this trail, just be mindful of the length of Forest Park, which stretches from Southwest Portland up into North Portland. 

The good news is that this is one of the best hikes in Portland if you want to avoid crowds because the trails at the north end aren’t that busy.

Est. Time: 4 hours 32 minutes

Level: Moderate

Distance: 5.5 miles

Have you ever been on a hike to one of these trails in Portland? If not, this is your sign to add it to your bucket list!

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