Category Archives: Portland

Pittock Mansion Hike (Autumn 2018)

Directions: This hike is located in Downtown Portland on NW 31st and Upshur, just under the Thurman Street Bridge at Lower Macleay Park.

The trail starts under the Thurman Street Bridge and follows along Balch Creek. You’ll cross a bridge and head to a junction at the old Stone House. Continue straight here and cross another bridge before the trail starts to switchback as you make your way up to Cornell Road.

      

Cross Cornell Road and from here you gain elevation more steadily and get a few glimpses of Portland’s industrial area. The rest of the trail is mostly uphill, there are a few small sections with stairs and a good amount of switchbacks. You will finally reach the top where the trail dumps you out into the parking lot for the Pittock Mansion. Go left and follow the path around the mansion to get great views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood.

      

Head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 900 feet (moderate)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: There is a very small parking area for this busy trail so be prepared to have to find street parking.

Mt. Tabor- Blue Trail (Summer 2018)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland.

Find the blue arrow just past the parking area that goes down into a wooded area briefly before you come out and cross the road and head down by the tennis court. Next you will walk around the lower reservoir and head up a gravel path that takes you to the base of a staircase. Head up the steep stairs where you will reach the middle reservoir, take the upper trail around the reservoir and cross the road and find the blue arrow that points you back into a wooded area.

      

The wooded area is short and dumps you out at the small empty reservoir. Walk all the way around it and get on the paved path that takes you up to the road. Follow the road to the path on the right, take this path to the light pole where there is an intersection of trails. Take the trail on the left that heads uphill and is pretty steep. This trail takes you to the top where you walk around the loop and get on the trail by the bathrooms. Heading downhill, crossing the road, and going down the few wooden steps takes you past the playground and back to the parking area.

There are blue arrows marking this whole hike which makes it very easy to follow.

      

We did this hike on the last weekend of summer and we were already noticing the trees starting to change. This would be a great place to go in the coming weeks to see great fall color.

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Powell Butte (Summer 2018)

Directions: This hike starts at the Visitor Center, just off of 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

From the parking area get on the paved Mountain View Trail, it’s wide and well maintained. In about a quarter mile you’ll come to a junction, go left on the Wildhorse Trail. This trail is packed dirt and can become very dusty in late summer. The Wildhorse Trail winds through tall grass and shrubs to the top of the butte.

      

Go left here on the Summit Lane Trail which is a wide thick gravel trail that’s lined with wooden fencing. The trail winds around the top of the butte and lots of seasonal birds can be seen up here as well as deer. The gravel path will head uphill and meet back up with the paved Mountainview Trail. Go left and follow it downhill and back to the parking area.

      

You get really great views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens on a clear day and there is usually some type of flower blooming. There are numerous trails around the butte so you can add a lot of variation to your hikes. This is our favorite route for a quick evening hike.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Hoyt Arboretum (Spring)

Directions: The Hoyt Arboretum is located in Washington Park near the zoo. The main parking lot and visitor center is on Fairview Blvd.

We did this hike for the purpose of seeing blooming trees (plum, cherry, magnolia, etc.) so we stayed on the east side of the visitor center where there are mostly deciduous trees. You can pick up a map of all the trails at the visitor center.

We started on the Oak Trail and connected to the Wildwood Trail. In here most of the trees just had buds so we continued on the Wildwood Trail and crossed Cascade Dr. to get to the Winter Garden.

      

There were some tulips, daffodils, blooming ground cover and shrubs in this area. We also saw a good amount of trillium which was great.

      

      

Next, we crossed Cascade Drive again and got on the Magnolia Trail. There were a few cherry and plum trees just starting to bloom in this area.

      

We continued on and hooked up with the Hawthorn Trail. Everything was bare here so we decided to head back up to the visitor center. We were here the last week of March and that was probably a week or two early.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles- you can do more or less. (easy)

Elevation: 250 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Mt. Tabor (Winter)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland

This is a place that every Portlander should know about.  There are three different marked loop options, and countless more if you mix and match.  Each is marked with a different colored arrow (blue, red, and green), and they all intersect.

Because it’s a city park, all the trails are very well maintained, and transition between bark dust, gravel, packed dirt, and pavement.

  

The blue trail is the longest, and most difficult individual loop (3 miles total).  It winds up and downhill, past all 3 reservoirs, and up a flight of 95 steps.  There’s a nice variety of scenery on this trail, from wooded areas, to views of Downtown and the West Hills.

      

The green trail is 1.7 miles long and has great views of Mt. Hood on a clear day.

The red trail is the shortest option at 1 mile long and is a good option if you’re looking for a quick hike after work.

You can see all kinds of birds on Mt. Tabor, including ducks, woodpeckers, owls, and eagles.  There are a number of different playgrounds for kids and a lot of picnic areas.  There’s also an off-leash area for dogs.  There are bathrooms at the main parking area and an outhouse up at the top.

Distance: 5.7 miles- total if you do all three trails (moderate)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

The parking area at Oaks Bottom is notorious for break-in’s and we had a problem with a man basically telling us he was going to break into our car as soon as we left, we even saw the slim jim in his backpack 🙄. We wont be parking in this main parking lot ever again, it’s too bad because this behavior may make it to where people don’t visit Oaks Bottom. We hope you still visit and we would recommend parking at Oaks Bottom Park.

Directions: From the intersection of SE 17th and Powell, head south on 17th. Cross Holgate and McLoughlin, and head into Sellwood. Turn right on SE Bybee. Bybee turns into SE 13th, follow 13th. Turn right onto Sellwood which veers into SE 7th. You’ll see the parking area for Oaks Bottom Park.

From the parking area get on the trail that heads downhill. Once at the end of this hill go right and go to a split in the trail. This hike can be done as a loop, going left here will get you on the Springwater Trail first, going right has you entering the refuge first. Either way you choose loops around and ends back at this junction. Fair warning…on the weekend there is a large train that runs right along the Springwater Trail and it is VERY loud. Because we were here during the time the train runs we decided to make this an out-and-back hike. We went right at the junction and entered into the refuge. You’ll immediately be following along a marshy area where there are a lot of water birds. We saw mallards, pintails, coots, and geese.

      

The trail switches from packed dirt and rocks to boardwalk as you follow along. There is a viewing platform out to the marsh and Oaks Park, we saw a few great blue herons and an eagle here. As we continued hiking we saw a brown creeper, bushtits, crows, scrub jays, a hummingbird, and golden-crowned sparrows.

      

The trail is very easy to follow and you will pass by the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, it has large paintings on it. Eventually you’ll come to a junction, you can turn around here or continue left and visit the tadpole pond.

      

This is a great hike for wildlife viewing and would be great for kids as well. The trail is very easy and there is a lot to look at along the way.

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Break-ins at the main parking area.

Powell Butte (Summer)

Directions: This hike starts at the Visitor Center, just off of 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

From the parking area at the Visitor Center (just past the piano that’s free for the public to play!) get on the paved Mountain View Trail. You’ll follow this a short distance until you come to a gravel section in the trail, go right here and get onto Pipeline Lane. You’ll backtrack a bit and get a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens as you follow the thick gravel trail towards the north.

      

The trail gradually heads uphill and skirts along the tree line. Off to your left you can see the gated entrance to the underground reservoir. Soon you’ll come to an intersection in the trail, go right and get onto Holgate Lane where you enter the woods. Follow this dirt and rock trail through the woods at a fairly level grade. There is a giant metal pipe that lines most of this trail and does have leaky spots so year round there are muddy sections of the trail. Soon you’ll reach the Elderberry Stairs on your left, head up these somewhat steep steps that wind up the side of the hill.

      

Continue following the trail until you come to another junction. Go left here and get back on Pipeline Lane, you’ll follow this trail back out the way you came in with a view of Mt. Hood almost the whole way back.

      

Powell Butte is great for an after work hike or quick weekend outing. It does stay pretty busy year round no matter if it’s a weekday or weekend.

Make sure to pack your binoculars if you’re into wildlife viewing. There are lots of different birds, butterflies,and even deer.

 

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 180 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: There are nettles along the trail in the woodsy areas.

Mt. Tabor (Spring)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland

Mt. Tabor is one of Portland’s best parks. It offers a variety of well maintained trails, has a basketball and tennis court, you can see three unique reservoirs, and has a lot of opportunities for nature viewing.

There are maps at a kiosk area in the main parking lot. Mt. Tabor offers three marked trails (blue, green, and red) but has plenty of unmarked trails as well. For this post we are going to focus on the blue trail, which is the longest of the marked paths.

Starting at the parking area find the blue arrow that’s just a few steps past the basketball court. Follow the path through a wooded area downhill where it pops back up and you cross the road, heading down to the tennis courts. From here you walk around the first reservoir and follow the arrows to a steep staircase. Head up the stairs and you will reach the second reservoir, take the upper trail that’s lined with cherry blossom trees around the reservoir. Continue following the blue arrows downhill in a more wooded area that takes you to the third reservoir that you will go around and head up a short paved path.

      

      

The path ends at the road which you will get on and go right a short distance to the next arrow taking you uphill on a dirt trail. Follow this trail somewhat steeply uphill to the very top and take the paved loop to it’s west side and follow the trail back down past a play structure to the parking area.

      

      

You will get great views of downtown Portland quite a few times on the blue trail. You get to see all of the open air reservoirs and some very pretty blooming trees as well.

Mt. Tabor is pretty much always busy unless you are here really early on a weekday. Even then you will still see people walking dogs or on a morning run. So if you are looking for peace and quiet, this may not be the best place.

 

Distance: You can do a total of 5.7 miles on all of the marked trails (blue- 3 miles, green- 1.7, red-1)

Elevation: 350 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Pet Friendly: Very

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great urban hike with lots to see!

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (Winter)

The Rhododendron Garden is located on 28th Avenue, across from Reed College in the Eastmoreland neighborhood.

This is more of a walk than a hike but it’s still a nice place to go to get outdoors for a while.

From the entrance take the paved path and switchback once where you go under a bridge and come to a pond. There are lots of ducks here and sadly it looks like the big willow tree that was by the bridge didn’t make it through the winter storms. Continue on the path and you will round a corner and start to see the golf course across the water. The path here is gravel and takes you to another pond with even more ducks, you may even see a nutria if you have the patience to hang around for a while.

      

      

After crossing the long bridge go left and down along the pond, pick up the path as it goes back up into the rhododendrons. There will be a fence and stream to your left and a grassy area to your right. As you continue to follow this trail it will round a corner and come to an area with cattails and reeds, you can see more of the golf course across the water here as well. Continuing around you’ll be following along the water as it loops back to the long bridge. From here just continue to follow the path back to your car. There are lots of side trails along the way to check out, the garden is beautiful and a great place to explore.

      

      

Some of the birds we saw were herons, ruddy ducks, mallards, humming birds, geese, coots, wigeons, and wood ducks.

Distance: 2 miles (you can do more or less, depends on which trails you take)

Elevation: Minimal

Difficulty: Easy

Pet Friendly: Yes but dogs must be leashed

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $5 entrance fee from March- September, except every Mon & Tues are free year round.

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Overall: Great place for wildlife viewing, we need to go back during rhododendron season.

Best Of 2016

We did a lot of great hikes in 2016, here are some of our favorites and our overall top hike of the year.

  • Willamette Valley:

Henline Falls– This is a short hike but it takes you to an amazing waterfall. Catch it at the right time of day and you might just see a rainbow at the base as well!

  • Columbia River Gorge:

Columbia Hills State Park– Great area to see wildflowers with amazing views of the Gorge.

  • Washington:

Lewis River Falls– So many pretty waterfalls in such a short distance. Definitely a must see.

  • Coast:

The Thumb– This was probably the most unique hike we did this year.

  • Central Oregon:

Smith Rock (Misery Ridge)– The views are amazing at the top and you get a very up close view of Monkey Face!

  • Mt. Hood:

Wind Lake– You get to ride a chairlift up to the top of Ski Bowl and then hike to a somewhat hidden lake. And the whole time you have great views of Mt. Hood and Government Camp. 

  • Portland:

Powell Butte- This is a great hike in the city. On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St Helens, and Mt. Hood.

  • Southern Oregon:

Plaikni Falls– This hike was inside Crater Lake National Park, it’s very pretty, especially in autumn with all the beautiful colors.

  • Kayak:

Disappearing Lake– This was such a treat! It’s a lake that’s only around for about a month out of the whole year.

Overall Best of 2016:

Bald Mountain– The hike up bald mountain is beautiful and lined with beargrass. Once at the top you round a corner and come to one of the best views of Mt. Hood we’ve ever seen. Do this hike!

What were some of your favorite hikes in 2016? Any you’re looking forward to doing in 2017?