In such a green and easy-on-the-eye city, there are plenty of scenic places to explore on foot whether it’s an urban area lined with vintage boutiques, by the river, a gorgeous park, a lush garden or around a wooded trail. If you looking for some of the most interesting spots, here are the best and most beautiful walks in and around Portland, Oregon…
1. Along Tom McCall Waterfront Park – one of the most scenic river walks especially during the spring
Located in Downtown Portland, Tom McCall Waterfront Park is an amusement park covering an area of 36.85 acres. Nestled on the bank of the Willamette River, Tom McCall Waterfront Park is one of the most frequented urban spaces in Portland that attracts both locals and visitors. It has many walkways and trails well-suited for dog-walking, cycling, and running.
As you saunter across the park, you get to relish the exquisite views of the Willamette River and the vegetation skirting the main walkway. The trail that runs beside the river is relatively flat which makes it ideal for dog-walking.
2. Downtown Waterfront Loop Walk – an easy and fun walk right on the water, over and under bridges
The Downtown Waterfront Loop Walk is a beautiful trail that runs along the Willamette River. While hiking this trail, you get to take in the spectacular views of Portland’s bridges and Downtown skyline. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the Eastbank Esplanade, and the
Steel and Hawthorne bridges are some of the most prominent landmarks that you can see while strolling on this trail.
The trail starts from Salmon Streets Springs which is easily accessible by Trimet buses, a bus line serving Downtown Portland. The hike itself is mostly flat with a few slopes connecting to the floating walkway and Hawthorne Bridge.
3. Around International Rose Test Garden – acres of pretty roses with breathtaking views over the city
Portland has always been famous as ‘the city of roses’ because it has ideal weather conditions to grow roses. Located in Southeast Portland, Rose Test Garden is Portland’s oldest rose garden housing more than 10,000 roses including 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, multiflora roses, Mr Lincoln, and many other rose species. Though the park does not have any defined hiking trails, it has several walkways that help you explore every corner of the garden.
The best time to visit Rose Test Garden is between February to June as this period is marked by rose blooms. As you stroll across the garden, you get to indulge in the mesmerizing views of Mount Hood and Downtown Portland.
4. Blue Loop Trail, Mount Tabor Park – a quick escape into nature without leaving the city
Located inside Mount Tabor Park, Blue Loop Trail is a highly trafficked trail that is best used for running, bird watching, and hiking. The trail connects with several other trails that run along Mount Tabor Park. The best time to hike the Blue Loop Trail is between the months of April and September. While you are allowed to walk your dogs on the trail, you will have to keep them on leash.
With an elevation gain of 76 meters, Blue Loop Trail is a small part of Mount Tabor Hike, an extensive trail that starts from Lincoln Street and ends at Mount Tabor Summit.
5. Marquam Nature Park – perfect for a more adventurous hike or a family trip
Nestled in Tualatin Mountains, Marquam Nature Park is the place to relish solitude. Though the place does not offer any mesmerizing views, it offers a pleasant wooded walk full of quiet ambience. Located in Southwest Portland, Marquam Nature Park has several walking trails that take you to some of the most beautiful parts of the West Hills.
Marquam Trail starts in the park and connects to a 40-mile loop trail that ends at Willamette park after passing over Council Crest. While walking across the park, you get to see plenty of native plant species including Douglas fir, bigleaf maples, red cedar, and western cedar. There is a plethora of bigleaf maples at the beginning of the trail which makes it an ideal spot for nature photography.
6. Historic Kerns Walk – see historic and modern on this walk through the historic Kerns Neighborhood
Located in the Kerns neighborhood of Portland, Historic Kerns Walk is 2.7 miles long trail that offers enchanting views of all major landmarks in the area. The trail is completely flat with several sidewalks and corners without any curb cuts.
Historic Kerns Walk starts from Oregon Park and is easily accessible by 12-Sandy and 19-Glisan buses. The trail is best used between March to April.
7. Along Eastbank Esplanade Loop Trail – one of the best walks in the city great for all levels and features a river
Located beside McCall Waterfront Park, Eastbank Esplanade Loop Trail is a 2.6 miles long loop trail that is well suited for strolling, bird watching, dog walking, biking, and running. It is a wheelchair-friendly and kid-friendly trail that is mostly flat. With an elevation gain of 32 meters, Eastbank Esplanade is paved smoothly with asphalt.
The trail is highly trafficked and accessible throughout the year. The trail can also be accessed by vans through striped aisles. It has only one designated accessible space at its southeast end. While most of the trail is flat, it has some steeper sections where hikers using mobility equipment for wheelchairs may need assistance.
8. Around Hoyt Arboretum – a pretty 189-acre park featuring thousands of native, global and endangered trees and 12 miles of hiking trails
Hoyt Arboretum is a part of Washington Park, one of the most visited tourist sites in Portland. Hoyt Arboretum covers about 189 acres of the total area of Washington Park. As you stroll around the park, you get to enjoy the mesmerizing views of Tualatin Mountains.
There are several trails that you can use to walk around the park. Here is what we recommend; Fir Trail is a flat loop trail that starts near the Stevens Pavilion, runs along the hedges surrounding the park, and ends at the Pavillion. If you want to explore the southeast part of the Arboretum, you should stroll on the Overlook Trails, a 2-hour loop trail that passes through Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The trail has varying elevations and is skirted with deciduous trees.
9. Along Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard – a walkable street with block after block of vintage shops, trendy boutiques, and cool cafés
Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard is a bustling street offering plenty of amazing things to do. The street spans 43 blocks vintage shops, indie boutiques, cozy coffee shops, small bookstores, and ritzy eateries.
With a vibrant ambience, the street is a perfect place for casual walks. The street is one of the most frequented spots in the Southeast neighborhood of Portland.
10. The Wildwood Trail – is a wonderful 30-mile urban trail perfect for families and dog walkers
The Wildwood Trail is a moderately trafficked 30.2 miles long trail that starts at the Vietnam Memorial and enters Forest Park after passing through West Burnside St. After walking three miles from the southeast end of Vietnam Memorial, you enter an urban wilderness that houses a wide range of animals including 62 species of mammals and 112 birds.
The Wildwood Trail is the most accessible route to Forest Park. The trail is well suited for running, hiking, strolling and dog walking. Both starting and ending points of the trail lie outside the park. However, you can explore every corner of the park while walking on The Wildwood Trail.
11. Around Reed College – combine beautiful scenery with beautiful buildings
If you want to explore the natural gems of inner Southeast Portland, you can use the Reed College trails to get to them. There is a short looping trail located on the north side of the campus that starts at the Crystal Springs canyon. Whether you are seeking solitude or scenery, you can use this trail to relax and relish the captivating beauty of Crystal Springs Lake and other landmarks surrounding Reed College.
You will have to walk two miles before you enter the gravel path that surrounds the soccer field. The gravel path is not an easy hike. Located on a grassy hillside, the trail is mostly flat with several uphill/downhill sections which makes it well-suited for walking and jogging.
12. Pittock Bird Sanctuary Nature Trail – a place with birds in natural terrain, trails and viewing platforms
Located outside the borderline of Forest Park, Pittock Bird Sanctuary Nature Trail is a 4 miles long path that surrounds Pittock Bird Sanctuary. It is a moderately trafficked trail that is well suited for bird watching, strolling, dog-walking, and running.
The trail is a part of a network of several well-maintained trails that pass through three zones, namely The Uhtoff, The Collins, and The Pittock Sanctuaries. The trail features educational plant identification placards so you may want to hike the trail with your kids. It also has many resting spots.
13. Concordia Neighborhood Greenways Walk – a series of popular walkways in the city
The Greenway network is a series of walkways in the Concordia neighborhood of Portland. These walkways constitute a 3.3 miles long trail that is moderately trafficked. The path starts at Fernhill Park and is mostly flat. It does not have any sidewalks or curb cuts which makes it well suited for strolling, biking, and cycling.
As you walk through the Greenway network, you get to explore every corner of Concordia Neighborhood. The network comprises lower-traffic residential streets with a serene ambience.
14. Pearl District to Pittock Mansion – a walk which ends with truly stunning views of the city
If you want to test your abilities as a walker, you should take this long walk from the Pearl District to Pittock Mansion. It starts from the flatlands of the Pearl and passes through West Hills to Pittock Mansion, a chateau built in Portland in 1914. The walk also comprises many walkways constituting up to 300 steps.
The path is about 5.6 miles long and takes 2 to 3 hours to cover. However, there are many resting places along the path.
15. A loop around Laurelhurst – a trail perfect for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching
If you want to explore every corner of Laurelhurst, you should take this loop trail around the neighborhood. The neighborhood features vintage homes, busy streets, amusement parks, and beautiful gardens. You can explore many major landmarks of Laurelhurst as you walk around the neighborhood.
As you travel around the neighborhood, you will come across a lot of tourists as Laurelhurst houses many prominent tourist sites. Though many bus lines offer tours around the neighborhood, you get to explore more by walking. This walk allows you to explore the entire neighborhood of Laurelhurst in only 2 hours. It’s a 3.5 miles long walk with no climbs.
16. Around Washington Park – a beautiful urban nature park with trails and gentle walks
There are so many well-maintained trails around Washington Park. You can walk on any of these trails to explore all areas of the park. While there are several trails that run along the park, you can stroll around the park through a loop trail.
The most prominent landmarks that you come across while strolling around the garden include World Forestry Center, Portland Children’s Museum, Rose Test Garden, and Japanese Garden. You also get to see archery ranges, memorials, soccer fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, public art, and the beautiful vegetation of the park.
17. Oak Island Loop Hike – perfect for a scenic stroll or a hiking a trail
Oak Island Loop Hike is a 2.8 miles long trail that runs beside the Sturgeon Lake on Sauvie Island. It is a moderately trafficked loop trail that starts at Oak Island Trailhead Road and ends at Sturgeon Lake Narrows. With an elevation pitch of 10 feet, Oak Island Loop Hike is well suited for hikers and walkers. The best time to use the trail is between April and September.
The trail can also be used for strolling. In fact, it is one of the best ways to explore Oak Island. As you walk across Oak Island on this trail, you get to indulge in the beauty of the island’s lush green vegetation that includes oak trees, willows, and ash trees.
18. Newton Road to Newberry Road – an easy walk that takes you through secondary forests featuring alder, maple, and conifers
Newton Road to Newberry Road is a 4.5 miles long trail that begins at the Newton Road Trailhead and ends at the Newberry Road Trailhead. The trail comes with short loops and has an elevation gain of 2190 feet.
It is an easy walk that takes you through secondary forests featuring alder, maple, and conifers. It is a moderately trafficked trail that is accessible throughout the year.
19. Kelley Point Park – an amusement park with well-maintained and paved trails that run along the beautiful rivers
Located at the convergence point of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Kelley Point Park is an amusement park with well-maintained and paved trails that run along the beautiful rivers. As you walk along these trails, you get to experience the serenity of water of these rivers. The main trail that travels through the park is 1.7 miles long.
The park is bordered by Columbia Slough on the south, the Columbia River on the north, and the Willamette River on the west.
20. Alameda Ridge – a very popular unique walk in Portland
Alameda Ridge is one of the most visited tourist sites in Portland. It constitutes more than a thousand public stairs constructed in the 20th century and passes through six neighborhoods in Northeast Portland. The staircases rise 250 feet to the West Hills and Downtown Portland. There are 11 staircases tucked among small houses, bungalows, and cottages. Each staircase has 30 to 127 steps.
The scenery-packed, calf-blasting route explores an intriguing network of public staircases tucked among bungalows, cottages, and stately manors. As you walk up these stairwells, you get to see the civilized landscapes of Portland.