I love to hike! Its my favorite way to unwind and let go of the stresses of the day, week, month… Living in Oregon, we are blessed with some stellar hiking opportunities for all levels. Many require an hour or so drive to get to, so not great when you need a quick nature fix. Luckily, there are some beautiful hikes right here that allow you to get out for that “breath of fresh air” very quickly.
#1 – Angel’s Rest – I-84 to Exit #28 (Bridal Veil)
My all time favorite “close in” hike, does require a little driving, but less than 20-30 minutes will get you to one of the best view hikes of all in the Gorge. This is a 5 mile round trip hike that takes you through a sweet little forested area with a stream, up some switch backs and over a boulder field, with a little scramble to get to the plateaued summit. By walking around the point, you get incredible views both east and west. On a really clear day, you can easily see the city of Portland in the distance!
#2 – Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion (park off NW Upshur)
When I’m looking for a good training hike with a rewarding view, my go-to is this 5 mile round trip hike in the heart of the Forest Park. Starting off from Lower Macleay, which winds along a sweet little creek through old growth forest and passes the “Witch House”. From there you start an uphill section that eventually crosses SW Cornell, just east of the Audubon Society. Once you cross Cornell, you’ll be faced with a split in the path…either will eventually take you up to Pittock Mansion. I tend to go to the left on the way up and end up coming down the other path on the way back. You finally emerge into the parking lot for the Mansion, so just take a left and walk past the house to the lookout point where you’ll be treated with a spectacular view of the city and on clear days the magnificent Mt. Hood.
#3 – Marquam Trail to Council Crest (SW Terwilliger to Sam Jackson Pkwy)
This is my “quick & easy” hike, for when I need a fast nature fix! Easy to get too, the parking lot is just off of SW Terwilliger and the hike itself is 3.5 miles round trip. When doing this hike in the evenings I’ve seen deer and owls, so keep your eyes out for surprisingly wildlife! Although you could continue and make this a longer hike, I choose to enjoy the view from Council Crest park, and then head back down. Some days you can see as far as Mt. Ranier!
#4 – Tryon Creek State Natural Area (Just past Lewis & Clark College, down Terwilliger Blvd)
Hidden away between Portland and Lake Oswego, is this jewel of a State Park. With a lovely visitors center (which means clean, heated bathrooms!), this is a fun park to go to for a different experience. There is a bike path trail, but also many meandering trails through the park. You can easily do hikes of anywhere from ¼ mile to 6 miles long. Most trails are wide and level, so this is a great one to do with anyone who may have mobility issues or if you are introducing your little ones to the joys of hiking.
#5 – Mt. Tabor – (Just off SE 60th and SE Division)
When I lived in SE Portland, I would take advantage of the close proximity of Mt. Tabor to do long training runs. It’s the only dormant volcano found within the city limits of any major US city and that gives the park some of the best West facing views of downtown. There are long meandering trails all over the butte, some are used mainly for hiking and others for adventurous mountain bikers. Throughout the year there are multiple events being held in the park, including some bike races and a soapbox derby. Its one of the best parks to see the changing seasons, and I especially love when the cherry blossoms are popping!