I personally love cycling and handily Portland is a city famous for its love of cycling, and here you’ll find over 350 miles of bikeways/cycle routes. There’s also a massive variety of routes on offer, so from leisurely scenic rides to more of a strenuous cardio workout, here are some of my personal favorite bike and cycle trails around Portland, Oregon…
Top 3 Best Bike Trails in and around Portland
The Eastbank Esplanade is one of Portland’s most scenic routes for pedestrians and cyclists and it’s personally one of my favorite. The 1.5-mile-long walkway stretches along the Willamette River and offers some fantastic river views. I’d suggest even bringing your iPhone or camera and capturing a few Instagrammable moments along the way.
The esplanade starts at the Steel Bridge and ends at the Hawthorne Bridge, connecting to the Springwater Corridor and different neighborhoods on the east side of Portland.
For a scenic cycle along the river and a glimpse into urban renewal projects along the way, the Eastbank Esplanade is the route you should take. Stop along the way to take pictures of the river or check out the unique floating walkway—although you may want to walk your bike for that section.
Spectacular easy paved bicycle path
Eye-catching riverside views
Unique floating walkway
Beautiful urban renewal surroundings
Can get crowded at peak times
Urban area won’t suit all
Laurelhurst Park stretches over 26 acres in Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood. The park was designed according to the City Beautiful movement’s principles, which emphasized beauty’s importance in public works projects.
Laurelhurst Park features many trails for walking and cycling, including the Park Loop that takes you past the lake. The park is also a center for like-minded community members who enjoy cycling.
On the weekends, the Parks & Recreation department helps organize a Bike Gallery that assists with minor bike repairs and helps novices make the most of their machines.
Beautiful lake-centered Park Loop
Scenic cycle riding experience
Amazing bike galleries on weekends
Ideal for leisurely family rides
Entrance crowded at times
Skyline Boulevard in Forest Park is one of the best bike trails around Portland, Oregon. This bike route is not for the faint of heart as it involves a fairly steep incline, but if you are an experienced cyclist and have the energy, the views are more than worth it.
Getting to Skyline Boulevard starts with a steep cycle up through Portland’s famous Forest Park. Once you reach the boulevard, you’ll be rewarded with a gentle road that’s nice and shady, thanks to all the trees.
You can follow the boulevard into the Oregon countryside or take it as far as you need to get gorgeous city views.
However, a word of caution before you go: Skyline Boulevard is also an active, quiet road, so you will need to share the road with vehicles.
Steep incline for expert riders
Gorgeous views of the city
Fairly quaint charming surroundings
Surrounded by alluring shady trees
Can get busy
Viewpoints won’t suit all
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
The Banks-Vernonia State Trail combines trails and rails—the course goes alongside an abandoned railroad track. The trail follows 21 miles between Banks and Vernonia, two small towns about an hour outside Portland.
The trail, designed for cyclists, pedestrians, and horseback riders, takes you through scenic areas of the Oregon countryside.
Highlights along the way include several bridges, views of farmland, and the novelty of riding alongside the train tracks. Be sure to stop in either Banks or Vernonia at either end of the trail because both are picturesque small towns.
Beautifully paved bike trailing experience
Scenic Oregon countryside surroundings
Unique train tracks-sided riding experience
Trail is shared by logging vehicles
McKenzie River Trail
If you are passionate about mountain biking, you must visit McKenzie River Trail, even though it is a few hours’ drive outside Portla. This 25-mile trail through rugged terrain is a favorite for mountaineers and lovers of impressive scenery.
The McKenzie River Trail is not for the faint of heart or beginners. The first few miles are black-diamond rated as you must navigate through rock gardens.
You can also start at the middle of the trail, which is easier to navigate, and enjoy plenty of gorgeous scenery. Highlights include nearby Tamolitch Pool, waterfalls, and miles of old-growth forest.
Renowned for its 25-mile rugged terrain passage
Rock garden navigation for expert riders
Treat for lovers of impressive scenery
Not great for beginner-level bikers
Two and a half hours from central Portland
Fanno Creek Trail is located in the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District, just a few miles west of Portland proper. This trail is short but famous, thanks to its ADA accessibility, which makes it a good choice for cyclists and pedestrians of all abilities.
The trail follows Fanno Creek and takes you through several landscapes, including forests and wetlands. Stop at any point along the path to check out nearby parks, observe the birds, or take in the scenery.
If you are starting at the head of the trail, check out the Garden Home Recreation Center, which offers special programming for children.
ADA accessible smart infrastructure
Surrounded by proposessing wetlands
Renowned Garden Home Recreation Center
Can get flooded during the rainy season
The Springwater Corridor is another trail in the Portland area that follows an abandoned set of rail tracks. It is part of the 40-mile Loop, which will eventually connect many of Portland’s major parks and recreation areas.
The Springwater Corridor is worth a trip because of the diversity of its scenery. Part of the trail passes through Portland’s vibrant neighborhoods, but you also cycle through majestic natural vistas, including buttes and wetlands.
The corridor connects several of Portland’s major parks, including the Leach Botanical Garden and Powell Butte Nature Park, so extend your trip with a visit to any of those.
Surrounded by Portland’s vibrant neighborhoods
Passage through the Leach Botanical Garden
Area may feel a little secluded in parts
22 minute drive from city center
Urban area issues
The Hawthorne Bridge stands out even in a city with as many bridges as Portland. This truss bridge is the country’s oldest bridge with a functioning vertical lift. Its distinctive green and red color makes it easily recognizable along Portland’s waterways.
Although Hawthorne Bridge is a busy vehicle crossing, it is also a popular cycling path for commuters and recreational cyclists. Cross the bridge to say you’ve gone over this iconic piece of Portland’s landscape.
Extend your journey after you cross the bridge by continuing along the Eastbank Esplanade.
Distinctive green and red color pattern
Quick access to Portland’s waterways
Safest for pedestrians and cyclists
Gets busy at times due to traffic
Terwilliger Trail is divided into two segments. One starts in downtown Portland and ends along I-5. The other segment has one endpoint on Terwilliger Boulevard and ends at scenic Lake Oswego after passing through Tryon Creek State Park.
Both sections of the trail offer excellent scenic views and plenty of tree cover while still feeling close to city life.
It is an easy route for cyclists of all levels, so this is an excellent option if you want to start taking your bike out on trails but don’t feel confident yet.
Beautifully paved scenic route
Passage through Tryon Creek State Park
Surrounded by magnificent tree covers
Scenic Lake Oswego nearby
Can get busy at times
Secluded at times
Row River Trail
The area around Portland used to be heavily industrialized, so many trails, including Row River Trail, follow abandoned railroad tracks.
Besides a railroad track, the Row River Trail is distinctive because it is part of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway. The trail takes you past the historic covered bridges of Lane County, which has the highest concentration on this side of the country.
However, the Row River Trail is not just important for its artificial landmarks. Check out the beautiful natural landmarks along the way, including the Cascades foothills and a scenic mountain lake.
Known for its man-made landmarks
Part of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway
Surrounded by the Cascades foothills
14-mile paved route
Passage through abandoned railway tracks
Some repairing needed
Burnt Bridge Creek Trail
Burnt Bridge Creek Trail, just over the state border in nearby Vancouver, Washington, is a popular destination for cyclists and nature lovers from the Portland area.
The trail takes you through a varied landscape that includes forests, grasslands, and even a few of Vancouver’s residential neighborhoods.
The trail is nice and flat, perfect for cyclists still building their endurance.
Surrounded by open prairie fields
Paved 8-mile route
Pleasant biking experience for nature enthusiasts
Flat trail ideal for beginner-level cyclists
Isolated in some areas
Some social issues so need be safety aware
Marine Drive Trail
Marine Drive Trail is located alongside the scenic Columbia River, which forms some of the most beautiful vistas in the Pacific Northwest.
The trail is wide and paved without much elevation changes, perfect for a leisurely cycle.
Marine Drive Trail takes you by the river in several sections, giving you uninterrupted water views. Different sections of the trail provide access to a beachfront area or take you through wetlands home to migrating bird species.
Scenic Columbia River nearby
Well-paved trail promotes leisurely cycling
Easy access to the beachfront
Some isolated areas so be safety aware
Leif Erikson Drive in Forest Park is a favorite destination for Portlanders looking to get in a workout without leaving their city. Cyclists have to share the trail with runners and pedestrians, but there is plenty of space for everyone on this 10-mile trail.
The trail is surrounded by trees, offering plenty of shade cover if you are trying to get away from the sun (or the drizzle).
The trail has many elevation changes, making it a bit more challenging, but technically, it is very well maintained.
Wildlife-centered beautiful forest park
Surrounded by shady tree covers
Well-maintained paved trail
Can be busy at peak times
Rocky Butte is one of the extinct volcanoes in Portland. Not many cities in the United States can boast of having one volcano, let alone several, but Portland has a few extinct cones and buttes within its city borders.
Rocky Butte is the best for visitors searching for great views of Portland. It is one of the highest and doesn’t have trees on top, offering clear views of the city and the famous peaks of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens.
Rocky Butte is extinct, so you don’t have to worry about lava when you go there, although your legs may feel as if they are burning—this is a pretty steep trail!
Renowned Mount St. Helens nearby
Spectacular views of the city
Perfect for nature-loving tourists
Shorter than average trail
Mount Tabor is another one of Portland’s extinct volcanoes. Unlike Rocky Butte, its slopes are covered in trees, which obscure the views somewhat but make for a more pleasant cycling experience.
Don’t forget to check out the picturesque reservoirs or go to the top of the mountain for a view of Mount Hood.
Shady slopes perfect for summer months
Surrounded by picturesque reservoirs
Eye-catching views of Mount Hood
Paved loop trail
Limited parking facilities
Some isolated areas
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Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.