Top 15 of the Best Hikes in or near Portland

Portlanders seemingly can’t get enough of nature and the great outdoors and handily Oregon is home to some of the best scenery in the United States. So when you want to escape some of the city and breathe in as much fresh your lungs can handle, here are some of the best hikes in or near Portland, Oregon to suit all abilities…

1. Marquam Nature Park – a beautiful natural reserve for scenic forest hikes 

Marquam Nature Park - Oregon

Marquam Nature Park is a wooded oasis located within the boundaries of the city of Portland itself. The park is the perfect place to get away from the city and reconnect with nature. It has many acres of wooded areas, including native plants and trees. Be sure to check out the spectacular Douglas fir and red cedar groves.

Marquam Nature Park has several trails for people of all abilities, but the most famous is the Marquam Trail, which is part of Portland’s 40-Mile Loop. You can do only the section of the trail that falls within the boundaries of the park proper or continue along the rest of the loop, which ties together some of Portland’s best parks.

2. Forest Park – one of Portland’s most picturesque trail spots for hikers

Forest Park Trail - Oregon

Forest Park, on the northwestern side of Portland, is another spectacularly wooded area that is hard to believe is still inside of a city. This large wooded park also covers part of the Tualatin Mountains. With over 5,000 acres of wooded land and 80 miles of trails, there are plenty of routes for experienced and novice hikers to check out.

One of the most popular trails is the Wildwood Trail, which has been designated a National Recreation Trail. This trail stretches 30 miles and stops at popular Portland destinations, including Pittock Mansion and Balch Creek Canyon.

3. Flicker Trail – a peaceful wooded park with easy hiking trails and flora

Flicker Trail - Oregon

The Flicker Trail is a relatively short loop that covers 1.8 miles of forest. However, it packs plenty of beautiful scenery within a relatively short length. Most of the trail loops through Marquam Nature Park.

The relatively short length of the trail combined with its easy pace makes this a popular destination for Portlanders looking to relax, including families with small children and dogs. If you want an accessible getaway into nature that is fun for everyone, this is one of the best choices in the city.

4. Powell Butte Nature Park – a beautiful urban creek place perfect for hiking

Powell Butte Nature Park - Oregon

Powell Butte is one of the several extinct cone volcanoes that is located within Portland. The unique geological history and excellent views make this park home to some of the best hikes in Portland, Oregon. There are many miles of trails crisscrossing the park. Many hikers recommend the Powell Butte Loop Trail, which takes you through the forest as well as the higher altitude areas of the Butte.

As you’re hiking, keep an eye out for wildflowers and local wildlife. When you reach the top, check out the views of the Cascade Mountains.

5. Lower Macleay Park – a popular location for a serene and easy hike

Lower Macleay Park Trailhead - Oregon

Lower Macleay Park is a smaller park in urban Portland. The highlight of this park is the Lower Macleay Trail, which connects this smaller wooded area to Forest Park, an urban hiker’s paradise with many miles of trails.

As you hike Lower Macleay Trail, you will follow Balch Creek, a peaceful waterway burbling through the city of Portland. You can stick to the short trail or connect to other trails within Forest Park, such as the Wildwood Trail. Check out some landmarks along the way such as the eerie Witch’s Castle.

  • Address: 2960 NW Upshur St, Portland, OR 97210, United States

6. Woods Memorial Natural Area – an area densely covered with wooded parks and paved paths

Woods Memorial Natural Area - Oregon

The Woods Memorial Natural Area is a preserved forest oasis right in the middle of Portland. To wander through plants native to the Pacific Northwest and imagine what the landscape looked like before urban development, you don’t even need to leave the city proper. Look out for prominent native plants such as Douglas firs, willows, and thimbleberries, all replanted after the site was logged about a century ago.

If you’re not interested in plants, then you might enjoy the peaceful waters of Woods Creek. This smaller park is the perfect area for a leisurely hike in the city.

7. Tryon Creek State Natural Area – a state park surrounded by nature and perfect for a trek

Tryon Creek State Natural Area - Oregon

Portland not only has plenty of city parks within its boundaries, but it also contains one state park, Tryon Creek State Natural Area. This forest area covers 658 acres of nature within the borders of metropolitan Portland.

Tryon Creek has eight miles of hiking trails, ranging from the short Trillium Trail which is accessible to hikers of all abilities to more difficult backwoods hikes. No matter how long or how difficult your hike is, keep an eye out for gorgeous natural scenery, wetlands, and local wildlife including a large owl population.

8. George Himes City Park – tranquil woodland which provides breathtaking views and one of the best hikes in Portland

George Himes City Park - Oregon

George Himes is a small but sweet city park named after George Himes, one of the first directors of the Oregon Historical Society. The park covers about 36 acres of land in Southwestern Portland. Although you may not find the challenge you are looking for if you are an experienced hiker, the park offers plenty of paved and unpaved trails for leisurely walks through nature.

The Hillsdale to the River trail runs through this park and you can follow it to get great views of Mt. Hood and the river. Or, take the shorter, less steep George Himes Park Loop that takes you through the park’s wooded areas.

9. Lower Punch Bowl Falls – a hidden gem for the adventurers near Portland

Lower Punch Bowl Falls - Oregon

Lower Punch Bowl Falls is located a short drive away from Portland, but it is well worth the trip for nature lovers and hikers. The highlight of this route is Lower Punch Bowl Falls, a small but mighty waterfall that got its name because of its bowl-like shape. The trail to the waterfall takes you through majestic gorges and old-growth forests.

If you are feeling adventurous, extend your hike and continue to Punch Bowl Falls proper, located upstream from the falls. The other Punch Bowl Falls is much larger and is a proper punchbowl style waterfall.

  • Address: Punch Bowl Falls, Oregon 97014, United States

10. Tom Dick and Harry Mountain – a stunning volcanic mountain with a lot to offer

Tom Dick and Harry Mountain - Oregon

Tom Dick and Harry Mountain is not within Portland proper, but it is worth the short trip for a spectacular mountain hike. The hike starts at the popular Mirror Lake Trail, and you can extend your journey down that one for a bit if you are interested.

As you climb up Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, you will pass several creeks and gorgeous forests. The highlight of this trail is a view above Mirror Lake where you can see Mount Hood reflected perfectly. Continue to the top of the mountain to see other mountains in the Cascade Range, including the infamous Mount St. Helens.

  • Address: Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, Oregon 97049, United States

11. Council Crest – a great hike spot with paved and unpaved paths

Council Crest Hike - Oregon

For excellent views of Portland, it’s best to go to the very top. Council Crest is Portland’s highest point, standing at 1,073 feet in elevation. The park has about 43 acres of land, including amenities such as a dog park. However, the main attraction is the hiking trail that goes to the top.

Although the trail is steep in elevation, it is accessible to hikers of most abilities. Once you make it to the top, you’re rewarded with views not just of Portland but of the Cascade Mountains on a clear day, including Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Rainier.

12. Cape Falcon – a perfect and relaxing hike to see the wildlife

Cape Falcon Hike - Oregon

Cape Falcon is a short drive away from Portland toward the coast, but the spectacular views are worth the trip. The Cape Falcon trail is part of the Oregon Coast Trail, which hugs the magnificent vistas of the Pacific Ocean as it crashes into the state’s coastline. This particular section of the trail covers a Sitka spruce tree forest and a headland made of lava.

Go all the way to the end of the hike to get close to the ocean and get excellent views of Neahkahnie Mountain. The trail is muddy at most times of the year so bring the right equipment.

  • Address: Cape Falcon, Oregon 97102, United States

13. Pittock Mansion Hike – an iconic trail surrounded by a French Renaissance-style château

Pittock Mansion Hike - Portland

The Pittock Mansion is a historic home within Portland, so it doesn’t seem as if it is a likely candidate for a hiking trail. However, the original owners loved nature and preserved the back part of their estate as a wild hiking trail, while the front lawns were landscaped in the traditional way.

The hike starts on the grounds of the mansion and can take you into Forest Park or Lower Macleay Park. The excellent views and touch of Portland history make this a unique hike in the city.

14. Hoyt Arboretum – a favorite destination for the walk wanderers

Hoyt Arboretum - Portland

The Hoyt Arboretum, located in Washington Park, is an area dedicated to preserving local and rare species of trees. However, the Arboretum is far from a manicured landscaped garden. It also contains 12 miles of hiking trails taking you through the wooded areas. As you hike, learn more about the trees in the Arboretum and the important work that this institution does.

15. Springwater Corridor – family-friendly bicycle and pedestrian trail 

Springwater Corridor - Portland

The Springwater Corridor is part of the 40-Mile Loop that connects most of Portland’s major parks. This section stretches along the southeast of the loop and follows an abandoned railway line. The corridor lets you get a taste of urban hiking and some moderate exercise.

This hiking route takes you through a variety of landscapes. You do pass through some urban areas, including Portland’s residential neighborhoods, but you get to see natural landscapes such as Johnson Creek and nearby wetlands as well.

 

 

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