Top 15 Best Outdoor Activities in Portland

Perfect for outdoor and nature lovers, Portland is filled with beautiful green spaces, gorgeous gardens, a glistening river and is surrounded by seriously spectacular natural scenery.

If you fancy a hike, love flowers or just want to get lungfuls of fresh air, here are the best things to do for outdoor lovers in Portland, Oregon…

1. Half-Day Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall Hiking Tour

Columbia River Gorge Oregon

Half-Day Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall Hiking Tour is a hiking and biking tour by Around Portland Tours that takes you across some of the most iconic sites on the Columbia River Gorge

If you want to explore the most exquisite scenery in the Pacific Northwest, you should take this 18-mile tour across the steep rocky sides of the Columbia River Gorge.

From picturesque waterfalls to century-old trees to unique wildlife, this beautiful canyon of the Columbia River has a wealth of gifts of nature. 

Some of the notable attractions you visit during the tour include Multnomah Falls, Horsetail Falls, Elowah Falls, and Crown Point.

You start your tour by biking three miles along the picturesque downhills to waterfall hikes, from where you hike to Multnomah Falls. 

2. Explore beautiful Mount Hood 

Mount Hood Oregon

Mt. Hood is the ultimate destination for outdoorists visiting Portland. From skiing to snowboarding to hiking, the snowy terrains on the mountain are suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities.

It boasts some of the most thrilling hikes in the Pacific Northwest with trails nestled in towering trees and waterfalls. 

The massive terrains around Mt. Hood are blanketed with snow all year long. The mountain is home to six large ski areas that are suitable for all types of winter sports, including sledging, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing.

Nearby, there are various luxurious log cabins to spend the night in. 

3. Take a Wine Tours in Willamette Valley Near Portland

Willamette Valley near Portland

Portland is home to a wealth of vineyards, wineries, and breweries. If you are a wine connoisseur, take a guided wine tour from Portland to the wonderful Willamette Valley.

The Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge boast some of the finest wineries and vineyards in the Pacific Northwest. 

By taking a guided wine tour across the city, you can taste some of the best wines in the region. Many tour operators in Portland offer custom trips based on the personal tastes of the customers.

From shiraz to cabernet to pinot, you can enjoy a massive variety of red wines on these tours. 

4. Visit Portland International Rose Test Garden

The International Rose Test Garden

Portland International Rose Test Garden, in Washington Park in southwest Portland, is home to over 650 varieties of roses, including French rose, China rose, rose peace, and multiflora rose among others. 

The garden spans 4.5 acres and faces downtown Portland, East Portland, and the Willamette River. With over 10,000 rose bushes belonging to different species, Portland International Rose Test Garden is the oldest continuously operated rose garden in the country. 

At Portland International Rose Test Garden, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including sightseeing, strolling, and birding. It is also a great photography spot that attracts photographers from all over the state.

The garden also offers spectacular views of Mount Hood and the Cascade Range of clear days. It is open to the public every day between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. 

Address: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, United States

Phone: +1 503-823-3636

5. Watch the sunrise at Lost Lake Loop

Lost Kake Loop Oregon

Lost Lake Loop is a scenic trail located near the Hood River. It is a 3-mile long trail with an elevation gain of 60 feet. It is one of the best family hikes near Portland. The trail boasts many resting places for hikers, all of which offer mesmerizing views of Mount Hood. 

There are a few campsites above the lake which are suitable as picnic spots. The best time to start your hike is early morning. You can find a serene spot at the beginning of the trail and watch the sunrise. 

Lost Lake Loop is moderately trafficked and is best used between June and October. However, the trail is accessible to the public from late spring to mid-fall. 

6. Take an Oregon Coast Tour or road trip from Portland

Oregon Coast Highway

From Cannon Beach to Oswald West State Park to Ecola State Park, Oregon Coast is home to some of the most visited tourist sites. There are many tour companies that offer full-day trips across the rocky northern coastline of Oregon from Portland. 

As you travel along the picturesque Pacific Coastal Highway, you get to indulge in the spectacular views of sandy beaches and other geological wonders. U.S. Route 101 is the highway that runs along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. 

You can visit many coastal landmarks during the tour, including Haystack Rock, Cape Kiwanda, Devil’s Punchbowl, and Seal Rock. The places you visit may vary, depending on the itinerary followed by your tour operator. 

7. Explore Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is an urban park that stretches across more than 140 acres in southeast Portland. Nestled on a floodplain along the eastern shore of the Willamette River, the park is famous as a sanctuary for birds. 

From wetlands to a deciduous forest with walkways and trails, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge boasts a wealth of natural features. The city park offers a wide range of recreations for outdoorists, including birding, sightseeing, picnicking, hiking, and strolling.

The park is open to the public every day from 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. 

Address: SE Sellwood Blvd & SE 7th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202, United States

Phone: +1 503-823-7529

8. Take a stroll or cycle along Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Tom McCall Waterfront Park - Portland

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a city park located along the Willamette River in Southwest Portland. You can enjoy a broad array of outdoor recreations here, from strolling to cycling to birding. 

As you stroll along the meandering walkways of the park, you come across beautiful public art. Tom McCall Waterfront Park also boasts many historical monuments that represent the cultural heritage of Portland.

You can explore the best of the Willamette River by cycling along the expansive trails in the park. The park is open to the public every day between 5 a.m. and 12 a.m. 

Address: 98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204, United States

Phone: +1 503-823-7529

9. Cycle around Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island - Oregon

Sauvie Island is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Oregon. Sauvie Island is bordered by the Willamette River to the south, the Multnomah Channel to the west, and the Columbia River to the east. 

Sauvie Island is home to wide walkways, expansive trails, and large terrains that make it a perfect destination for outdoorists. From road biking to mountain biking to cycling, the island boasts trails that are suitable for all types of outdoor activities. 

If you want to enjoy the most scenic views on Sauvie Island, you should cycle along Reeder Road Loop. It is a 29-mile moderately-trafficked trail offering spectacular views of the Willamette River. 

10. Go Kayaking on Ross Island

Ross Island Kayaking

Ross Island is a part of the four-island cluster in the Willamette River, occupying over 400 acres of natural land. If you want to have a peaceful and scenic kayak in the heart of Portland, Ross Island boasts some of the best loops around the Willamette River. 

You can start your kayak at Sellwood Riverfront Park and paddle the loop around the island before heading to the eastern shore of the river.

As you kayak across the Willamette River, you get to revel in the breathtaking views of the most beautiful natural landmark of Portland. 

11. Go Hiking in Forest Park 

Skyline Boulevard in Forest Park - Portland

Located on the northwestern edge of Portland, Forest Park is a public park boasting massive forest reserves in the Tualatin Mountains.

The park overlooks the Willamette River and stretches across more than 5,000 acres. 

It is home to a large number of hiking trails skirted with lush green vegetation. With about 70 miles of recreational trails, Forest Park is the ultimate destination for hikers and outdoorists in northwest Portland. 

12. Take a picnic on the grounds of Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion Portland views

The Pittock Mansion is a Renaissance-style castle in the West Hills of Portland. Pittock Mansion features 46 acres of well-maintained parkland which is ideal for picnicking. 

Located at a height of 950 feet, the chateau offers breathtaking views of the cityscape. You can have an amazing sightseeing experience at the highest point of Pittock Mansion.

You may want to bring your own food as there are no eateries available on site, however, you can purchase light snacks at Pittock Mansion’s Museum Store. 

Address: 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210, United States

Phone: +1 503-823-3623

13. Take a stroll around Washington Park

Washington Park Portland

Washington Park is a complex of parks featuring a rose garden, Japanese garden, museum, soccer stadium, and amphitheater. The park occupies more than 480 acres of natural land and features over a hundred miles of hiking trails. 

From birding to picnicking to strolling, you can enjoy many different outdoor activities at Washington Park. As you stroll around the park, you get to see diverse garden styles, beautiful verdure, unique wildlife, and exquisite public art. The park is open every day from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, United States

Phone: +1 503-319-0999

14. Take a Mountain Bike around Powell Butte Nature Park

Powell Butte Nature Park - Oregon

Powell Butte Nature Park is a family-friendly natural area located on Powell Boulevard in southeast Portland.

It is home to many hiking, biking, and equestrian trails that offer spectacular views of Portland’s countryside.

Some of the most used trails in Powell Butte Nature Park include Hawthorne and Douglas Fir Trail Loop, Summit Lane Loop, and Orchard and Cedar Grove Loop Trail, all of which are suitable for mountain biking. These trails are accessible to the public every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Address: 16160 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97236, United States

Phone: +1 503-823-6131

15. Go bird watching at Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area

Smith & Bybee Wetlands Area

Located in North Portland, Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is a municipal park covering 2,000 acres of natural land between Columbia Slough and the Columbia River.

It is one of the largest urban freshwater wetlands in the country. 

Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area preserves two exquisite lakes with aquamarine water. You can enjoy a broad range of outdoor activities here, including birding, kayaking and canoeing.

The natural area is open to the public every day from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Address: 5300 N Marine Dr, Portland, OR 97203, United States

Phone: +1 503-797-1545

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