Best Hikes in Portland: 10 Great Hiking Trails Near Portland OR

Best Trails in Portland Oregon

Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, get ready for a journey through lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas that will leave you in awe. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a novice looking for a picturesque escape, this list of the best hikes in the area around Portland offers something for everyone. From the serene tranquility and easy trails of Hoyt Arboretum to the exhilarating challenges of the Columbia River Gorge, the trails near Portland are a thing of beauty.

Get ready to lace up your hiking boots and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Portland's best trails, where every step is an adventure waiting to unfold.

Best Hikes Within Portland

There's no need to leave the city of Portland to have access to miles of trails. Within city limits, there are dozens of places to get your steps in amid beautiful scenery—even trails that go right through downtown Portland.

Lower Macleay Trail to Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion Trail in Portland Oregon

This unique Portland hike is in town and offers an unbeatable combination of nature, history, views, and accessibility. Many locals consider Lower Macleay Trail to Pittock Manion the must-do hike in the city. 

Start from the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead and follow a creek as you head into aptly named Forest Park and Balch Canyon, covered with verdant green moss and ferns. 

Along the route, you'll cross footbridges, a small waterfall, and pass the moss and graffiti-covered "Witch's Castle," remnants of an old ranger station. About 100 yards from the stone structure, look for the tallest tree in Portland, a Douglas fir standing 242 feet tall. 

After the old ranger station, the rest of the hike is uphill, involving several switchbacks. The trail connects with the Wildwood Trail and Upper Macleay Trail, crossing the creek and road before reaching Pittock Mansion. 

Local Tip: Touring the mansion requires an admission fee, but hikers can explore the gardens for free. The eastern lawn has spectacular views of Mount Hood looming over downtown. 

About the Trail

  • Distance: 5.7 miles round-trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 950 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Free parking lot, plus street parking nearby

Marquam Trail to Council Crest Park

Council Crest Park Trails in Portland Oregon

A section of the city's 4T Trail system (Trail, Tram, Trolley, and Train), this hike takes you to the highest point in Portland: Council Crest Park, at 1,073 feet. The hike starts in Marquam Nature Park and involves a fairly steep climb up to Council Crest Park through scenic old-growth forest. 

Once at the top, hikers can catch their breath and take in the stunning 360-degree views that stretch from the Willamette River to the Cascade Range. On clear days, you can see Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood, but this is one of the best sunset spots in Portland, even when it's cloudy. 

Since this hike is part of the 4T Trail, hikers can also take the Portland Aerial Tram. This adds around a mile to the total distance, but the unique experience is worth it.  

About the Trail

  • Distance: 3.5 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Free parking at Marquam Nature Park

Mount Tabor Blue Loop Trail

Mount Tabor Trails in Portland Oregon

Mount Tabor is quintessentially Portland: a park with a network of multi-use trails built on top of a dormant volcanic cinder cone. Of all the park's trails, the Blue Loop is the longest and most challenging. It also covers the most ground, offering a grand park tour. 

The Blue Loop takes hikers up and down the park's summit twice, passing all three of its reservoirs. All trails start from the main parking lot and follow color-coded arrows, so it's easy to create your own loop that includes sections of the other two trails.

The arrows are difficult to follow in a few places, so it's a good idea to grab a trail map from the visitor center before setting out. While you're there, check out the old volcano's caldera, the sports courts, the dog park, and other features of this popular Portland park

About the Trail

  • Distance: 2.2-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 249 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Free parking lot

Tryon Creek Triple Bridge Loop

Tryon Creek Trails in Portland Oregon

It's hard to believe Tryon Creek State Natural Area is just minutes from downtown, but that is what makes this one of the best places to hike in Portland. As its name implies, the Triple Bridge Loop crosses three bridges as it traverses the park's outer perimeter. It also crosses into a Lake Oswego neighborhood for a short time. 

Start at the Nature Center, then quickly hop on the paved Ruth Pennington Trillium Trail. You'll then take the Upper and Lower Loop, crossing multiple viewing platforms. Eventually, you'll find yourself on the well-trodden Old Main Trail, and from there, the hike involves a handful of gentle switchbacks as the trail goes up and down with the natural landscape. 

Although all the various trails are well-marked and the natural area isn't particularly big, it's a good idea to download the trail map ahead of time or stop into the Nature Center for a map. With so many trails intersecting, it can be tricky to follow the large loop.

About the Trail

  • Distance: 3.5-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 540 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Free parking near the Nature Center

Hoyt Arboretum

Hoyt Arboretum Trails in Portland Oregon

The Hoyt Arboretum has several trails to explore, but the two-hour loop includes a little of every terrain and scenery, giving visitors a great overview. 

This hike, which is very easy-going and similar to a nature walk, includes the Overlook, Wildwood, Hawthorn, Maple, and Holly Trails. Notably, hikers will get on the Wildwood Trail in two different sections. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a quick and worthwhile detour off-trail. 

However, thanks to the connector trails, you can easily combine several trails for a longer hike.  For example, you can combine this two-hour loop with the one-hour loop for a beautiful 2-mile hike. Pick up a trail map at the visitor center beforehand, and keep your eyes open for trail markers. 

All trails in the arboretum also have interpretive signs with information about the plants and trees.  

About the Trail

  • Distance: 1.25-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Parking near the visitor center or Wildwood Trailhead for $2 per hour or $8 per day

The 4T Trail

4T Trail in Portland Oregon

As mentioned earlier, the 4T Trail covers the city using four unique modes of transportation: trail, tram, train, and trolley. Because it's a loop trail, there are several places to start and stop the hike, with one of the most popular being the Oregon Zoo. 

From the zoo, hikers will climb to Portland's highest point, Council Crest Park. Take in the incredible views of multiple snow-capped peaks surrounding the city, then come down the Marquam Trail to the Portland Aerial Tram and take a super scenic three-minute down to ground level. 

Depending on your plans, you can take a streetcar to explore downtown or take the MAX light rail back to the zoo to complete the official loop.

About the Trail

  • Distance: 4.2-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 480 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Various free and paid options, dependent on where you start

Best Hikes Near Portland

Of course, there's nothing like getting out of city limits for a true wilderness experience. The Columbia River Gorge is just the start of the beautiful and scenic areas outside of Portland to explore miles of hiking trails.

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls Trail in Portland Oregon

A popular Columbia River Gorge waterfall hike within just a short drive of downtown, Latourell Falls is easily one of the best Portland hikes. The 224-foot waterfall in Guy W. Talbot State Park is the third-tallest in the Gorge. 

Going clockwise from the trailhead, you'll go up to two-tiered Upper Latourell Falls, following Latourell Creek. From the upper falls, head down the loop to Lower Falls, the trail's main attraction. The state park picnic area is here, making for a nice stopping point. 

Continue under the bridge to the base of the lower falls. Note that the waterfall flows year-round, but when water levels are low, it will be more misty. In the winter, the trail surrounding the base of the falls can be dangerously icy, as the spray quickly freezes. 

About the Trail

  • Distance: 2.4-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 625 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Free

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls Trail in Portland Oregon

Multnomah Falls is one of the most popular hikes near Portland, home to Oregon's tallest waterfall and one of the most photographed sites. The vast majority of people walk to the scenic viewpoint at the bottom of 635-foot-tall Multnomah Falls, then turn around and head home. However, the 2.6-mile hike up to the top of the falls offers a truly unique perspective and passes another impressive waterfall, Wahkeena. 

While this hike isn't technical by any means, it does climb more than 700 feet in just one mile. Finally, it's also important to note that you need a timed-entry permit between late May and mid-September (exact dates vary slightly from year to year). 

About the Trail

  • Distance: 2.6 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 813 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Free

The Trail of Ten Falls Loop

Trail of Ten Falls in Portland Oregon

Although Silver Falls State Park is a bit further away from Portland, this impressive trail takes you to 10 waterfalls. You can hike the loop in either direction, but counter-clockwise is the most popular. The terrain passes through meadows and old-growth forests. 

Start from the Rim Trail, near South Falls Lodge, and take the train to Upper North Falls, one of the most isolated waterfalls in the park. After this waterfall, hikers will see nine more cascades, including the famous Lower South Falls, which you can actually walk behind. 

Note that leashed dogs are welcome on the trail except for the Canyon Trail section.

About the Trail

  • Distance: 7.4-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 1,190 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Not entirely
  • Parking: Oregon State Parks pass or $5 day-use fee

Lower Punch Bowl Falls

Lower Punch Bowl Falls Trail in Portland Oregon

Lower Punch Bowl Falls is one of the most popular destinations along the 13-mile Eagle Creek Trail, which connects to 11 waterfalls. As its name suggests, one of the highlights of this trail is taking a dip in the "punch bowl" the waterfall flows into. A short spur trail leads from the main trail down to a pebble beach, which is a popular destination in the summer months. 

Getting there requires a moderately difficult hike of just over two miles in each direction. While it starts out easy, there are water crossings and large boulders to navigate once you get close to the waterfall itself. You'll have water views most of the way, and after rains, countless tiny waterfalls trickle down the rock faces everywhere. 

About the Trail

  • Distance: 4.8 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 1,020 feet
  • Dog-friendly: Leashed dogs welcome
  • Parking: Northwest Forest Pass ($5 for the day or $30 annually)

Explore the Best Hikes in Portland, Oregon

In the evergreen city of Portland, the best hikes are not just paths through nature; they are gateways to serenity, beauty, and adventure. So, gather your friends, pack a picnic, and head out to discover the appeal of one of the most popular things to do in Portland. Let the scent of the forest, the sound of rustling leaves, and the sight of panoramic vistas captivate your senses. Portland's best hikes are not just recreational escapes; they are invitations to connect with nature in its purest form. Embrace the outdoors and let these trails be your guide to the wonders of the city.

If you're inspired by the opportunities in Portland, Oregon, contact Matin Real Estate at (503) 622-9601 to get in touch with a local Portland real estate agent and find the ideal Portland home for you today.

Post a Comment