The 13 Best Hikes in Portland: Complete Portland Hiking Guide

So we all know Portland is the bomb. Great neighborhoods, great bars and restaurants, parks everywhere, mountains and beaches a short drive away, and everyone’s so cool!

What else do we love about Portland? The hiking!

Portlanders are somewhat famous for their hiking proclivity, and it’s become kind of a running joke among Tinder and Bumble profiles about the prevalence of people claiming “hiking” as one of their favorite pastimes. But it’s true!

Portlanders love hiking and there are plenty of choices in and around the city for newbies and seasoned trekkers alike. 

My love of hiking started when I was a teenager growing up here, and my trips out to the Gorge became more and more frequent. These days, the challenge is finding a hike in the area I haven’t done (or at least haven’t done in several months).

Suffice it to say, I know these trails like the back of my hand. I’ll give you a run down of the best hikes near Portland, and then you can rush out and change your profile to add “hiking” to your list of interests. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel and vacation rental links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, we would absolutely never recommend something to you that we don’t stand behind 100%.

Tips for Hiking Near Portland

Before we jump into the hikes themselves, let’s talk about a few tips and things to know about these Portland hikes.  

Parking Passes

Most hikes within city limits won’t require a parking pass, but if you’re a semi-regular hiker I’d recommend investing in an annual Northwest Forest Pass ($30) or even a Discover Pass ($35 and only good in Washington).

There’s only one hike outlined here that requires a NW Forest Pass and none that need a Discover Pass, but I’ll tell you straight that these two investments will serve you well in your PNW hiking life.

There are two other hikes on this list that require paid parking – the Hoyt Arboretum and Warrior Point Hike, but both of those are easily obtained day of. 

Maps and Guides

I’m a big fan of Oregon Hikers Field Guide. I am in no way affiliated with this organization, but I have been hiking in the great PNW for years and I consistently come back to this site for its ease of use and updated, thorough trail guides.

If you’re curious about other hikes in the area I highly recommend this site. Nowadays I’ll take screenshots of the trail description and route if I know I won’t get service on the hike, but back in the day I used to print them out on actual paper and use them as my hiking guides.

The first three hikes are all in Forest Park, and though the linked descriptors are good and many trail junctions within the park are well marked, I recommend downloading this map to your phone. You may decide you want to add or take away mileage, and this map will help you easily customize. That said, I can usually always get a signal when hiking there.

Hiking in Portland: Great Hikes Within Portland’s City Limits

The hikes below are inside Portland’s city limits, which means they’re easily accessible whether you live here, or are just visiting for a weekend in Portland.

Hoyt Arboretum

  • Length: 4.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 425 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Trailhead Location: Wildwood Trail (Park at the Washington Park Veterans lot)

Hoyt Arboretum is perfect for those on the search for easy hikes near Portland. It’s super close and though you will need to pay for parking ($2/hr or $8/day), the cool thing about this one (and lots of Forest Park hikes) is that you can take public transit there!

This hike is accessible by the #63 bus lines which stops right at the trailhead. You can also park at the Hoyt Arboretum Visitors Center and walk down Fairview Avenue to meet up with Wildwood.

This hike starts at the beginning of the Wildwood Trail which spans the entire park and comes in at 30.2 miles. I did the whole thing once with my friend, Brendan, and we set off at 5:30 am on a very foggy, rainy Saturday morning.

Hiking through the Hoyt Arboretum by ourselves at that early hour, feet still spry and un-achy was a rare treat. It’s just so stinking beautiful! But you don’t have to commit to a 30 mile day, nor start out before the sun rises to enjoy it. 

The arboretum has been around since 1928 so you’ll see tons of mature trees, and since it’s a mix of coniferous and deciduous, it’s stunning anytime of year for spring blossoms, full summer splendor, fall leaves, or quiet winter days.

All the trees are labeled so you’ll learn something too! Though all of it is stunning, my favorite spot in the park is the Redwood observation deck. 

This loop hike will take you around most of the major areas, but you can really just start walking and exploring anywhere. They have plenty of maps posted so you aren’t in any danger of getting too lost. I recommend downloading this nice map that you can use to blaze your own trail and it also has more info about the types of trees you’ll find. 

Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion

  • Length: 5.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 950 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location: Lower Macleay Park Trailhead

This is one of my favorite Forest Park hikes (I’ve done it maybe twenty times?? Not exaggerating). The hike itself gives you a decent workout, but it will be busy during the summer and on sunny weekends.

If you can hit it mid-week or in the rain, you’ll have no problem finding parking. It’s accessible by bus too, and the #15 stops just a block away from the trailhead.

My biggest complaint about this hike is that I hate the red metal sculpture at the trailhead, but I have an irrational hatred of 90% of metal sculptures anyway; I welcome other opinions. 

What I love about this hike is how customizable it is for anyone. Pittock Mansion is very much worth the trek, but since it’s an out and back, there are a number of places you can choose to stop and turnaround at. The first quarter mile or so is intentionally paved to create forest spaces for people with mobility issues which makes for a lovely walk with grandma.

Then, there’s the witch’s castle (it’s actually an old bathroom, but don’t tell your kids that) at about a mile in for an easy turnaround point for families carting around littles.

Then you have the Audubon Society halfway up where you can look at birds and check out their great gift shop.

Or you can see all these things and continue all the way up to Pittock Mansion, a historic 1914 home, for spectacular views of the city. It costs $12 to go inside the house for a tour, and it’s worth it if you’re into old homes, but maybe not when you’re all sweaty from your hike. Come back another day when your shoes aren’t caked in mud.

The first mile or so of the trail is flat or a slight incline, but after you get past the witch’s castle it does start to climb pretty steadily until you reach Pittock Mansion.

At the Audubon Society you’ll have to cross Cornell Road which is usually not too busy or dangerous, but something to be aware of. You’ll also pass by Portland’s tallest tree at 243 feet on your left right before the witch’s (bathroom) castle.

Forest Park Ridge Trail

  • Length: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 862 ft.
  • Trail Type: Lollipop Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location: Park Here, or alternative parking close to trailhead at Ridge Trailhead

Parking in St. Johns is a great option since the St. Johns Bridge is the best bridge in Portland and it’s a lovely walk, but there’s a closer parking area here. Note that this parking lot is not that big (maybe 8 cars?), so if you’re feeling ambitious, you can always park in St. Johns and walk across the bridge.

Either way, you’ll be looking for a set of concrete stairs that start the hike. If you’re coming from the bridge, you’ll cross over Bridge Avenue then head left. If you’re coming from the parking area, you’ll walk up Bridge Road until you find the stairs. 

Forest Park is very long, stretching from Southwest Portland up into North Portland. The parts that are closer to downtown are much busier on average than the trails at the north-end, making this one of the best hikes in Portland if you’re looking to avoid crowds.

If you followed my earlier recommendation you’ve already downloaded this map to your phone and it will serve you well for this hike.

This loop will take you up Ridge trail for about .5 miles, and right away you’ll get a postcard worthy view of the bridge. Continue on Ridge past Leif Erikson (a broad, forest road popular with runners/walkers/bikers), and go right on Wildwood.

Next you’ll go left on Hardesty followed by another left on Trillium. Turn left again onto Wildwood and stick with this until you reach Ridge again and take a right to return to your car.

Extra special personal recommendation: I live in St. Johns and am intimately familiar with the Ridge trail, since I frequently pop up into the park if I’ve got a free couple of hours, and I must share my FAVORITE summertime activity. If you head up Ridge trail (.6 miles), go right on Leif Erikson (1.7 miles), then head left up Waterline (.8 miles), you’ll find yourself at Skyline Boulevard. Cross the street and get lunch and beer at Skyline Tavern and hang out in their incredible back patio area and pet dogs and play horseshoes or ping pong before heading down to your car for about 6 miles of hiking total. Best. Day. Ever.

Tryon Creek Triple Bridge Loop

  • Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 541 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
  • Trailhead Location: Old Main Trail

Tryon Creek State Park is right by where I grew up, so I spent a good amount of time tromping the grounds when I was a kid. It’s a favorite spot for families, runners, birders, and even horseback riders. The park has 8 miles of trails and most of them are fairly easy without a lot of elevation gain. 

Tryon Creek is known for its dense, shady evergreens, abundant ferns, and moss-covered everything, and this lovely loop lets you see most of the park and takes you across three bridges. The trail will get rather muddy after a spell of rain, so be sure to wear decent footwear that you don’t mind getting dirty.

If the trailhead parking fills up, you can park along the side of Terwilliger Boulevard and on a nice weekend you’ll start seeing cars lining up around 9 or 9:30. If you want to add some distance to your trek it’s really easy to take spur trails. Watch out for horse poop though!

Before or after your hike, be sure to visit the recently renovated Nature Center that has interesting exhibits about the flora and fauna of the region.

Powell Butte Loop

  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 612 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location: Powell Butte Trailhead

Powell Butte is a 600 acre nature reserve in East Portland, and below it sits two 50 million gallon concrete reservoirs (this fact always trips me out whenever I’m there.) Because of the butte’s elevation (600ish feet) and proximity to Portland, it’s the perfect location to store water and use gravity to feed Portland’s mostly sea-level homes and businesses. 

The meadows and forests above are frequented by families, dogs, mountain bikers, and runners. Much of Powell Butte is exposed to the sun which makes it unique when compared to its neighboring parks full of towering, shady trees.

Powell Butte is one of my favorite destinations in the early sunny days of spring when my skin is crying out for vitamin D.

There are some lovely spots to bring a picnic to up here, especially the orchard at the summit. The hiking around here won’t break a sweat for the serious mountaineers, but it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and its accessible trails make it ideal for dogs and kids. 

Mt. Tabor

  • Length: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 350 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location: Lincoln Street Trailhead

I think of Mt. Tabor as Powell Butte’s little sister. Both these parks are extinct volcanoes and serve as water reservoirs turned into incredible city parks. Tabor is slightly north of Powell Butte and further west, making it more accessible to inner Portland.

Though not as large as Powell Butte, Mt. Tabor still offers charming forested and paved paths for hikers, bikers, and runners, as well as playgrounds and off-leash dog parks. It’s proximity to popular spots like Hawthorne and the Montavilla neighborhood make Tabor an eastside park destination like Forest Park is on the westside. 

This two mile loop will take you around the whole park, and while it is relatively easy, there are some long staircases that make for some Rocky-esque summit celebrations if you’re so inclined.

This loop has you parking on Lincoln Street which is a good option, but there’s also a main parking lot by the amphitheater and you can really enter the park anywhere to explore.

Here’s an alternative map to find your way around. 

Warrior Point (Sauvie Island)

  • Length: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 10 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate (but only due to length)
  • Trailhead Location: Warrior Point Trailhead

Sauvie Island is technically considered to be in Portland, though to get here from the city, it’ll take you about 40 minutes since you drive to the (almost) end of this long island. You’ll park and then walk the remaining 3.5 miles to the actual tip of the island called Warrior Point where you can view the still operating Warrior Rock Lighthouse. 

This hike is doable all year long, though spring and fall are the best times for budding flowers or autumnal colors. Plus, there are a ton of farms on the island, and you might as well throw in some berry picking or pumpkin patching to round out your day.

Because this hike is a little further out, it’s not often too crowded so you’ll more than likely experience some solitude as you keep an eye out for bald eagles, sea lions, or gigantic ocean freighters hauling goods to and from the mouth of the Columbia.

If it’s a hot day and your clothes are starting to feel like a burden, backtrack down the same road you took in and take a dip at Collins Beach, a popular clothing-optional swim spot.

You’ll need a $5 ODFW parking pass to park anywhere on the island, and the easiest place to purchase one is at Cracker Barrel Grocery (no relation to the mega-chain). It’s the first building you’ll see after you come across the bridge onto the island, though you can also pick one up at the Reeder Beach RV Country Store which is on the road to the trailhead.

The Best Hikes Near Portland (Mostly in the Gorge)

The hikes below aren’t inside Portland’s city limits, but are within an hour of the city by car.

SPOILER: Most of these hikes are in the Columbia River Gorge – here’s our guide to the best hikes in the Columbia River Gorge for more information and other hikes to consider.

Multnomah & Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls
  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location: Multnomah Falls Trailhead

Multnomah Falls is an iconic Gorge hike that’s only a little over 30 minutes from Portland. I highly recommend going mid-week, but if your only option is the weekend, get there as early as you can – I’ve never not seen the parking lot full.

If it is full when you go, you can backtrack and try to park here, as this loop can be done either way and it’s a short walk between the two trailheads. This might be preferable since the area right around Multnomah will be crazy busy, but usually slacks off around Weisendanger Falls. 

Another tip to avoid crowds is to go when it’s really rainy. I actually prefer to see Multnomah Falls this way. In the wettest months there’s just so much water rushing down and you’re also surrounded by water pouring from the sky and it’s a fantastic sensory overload.

Whenever you go, you’ll get to see six spectacular waterfalls and potentially more baby waterfalls if it’s been especially rainy. 

Much of this hike was affected by the 2017 fires and for those of us who grew up knowing only the lush greenery it can be a bit heartbreaking to see the exposed hillside and charred trunks. On the other hand, you’ll see new life sprouting up everywhere, refusing to give up, reminding us that just because we get hurt doesn’t mean we stop growing. 

Latourell Falls

This hike is a great choice for those who don’t want a strenuous workout, but still want to experience the waterfall splendor of the Gorge.

This is a fairly easy 2.5 mile hike that’s popular for families due to its ease, shorter length, and relative proximity to Portland (about 40 minutes), making Latourell Falls one of the closest waterfall hikes near Portland.

Like most Gorge hikes, the parking lot fills up fast on weekends so try to get there before 9:00 am to avoid crowds. 

The falls are divided into an upper and lower section, and the 243 foot lower falls can be viewed with only a short walk along a paved path from the parking lot. I actually prefer the upper falls since it’s a bit less crowded and features two tiers.

While the falls are always beautiful, in the summer (especially if it’s been dry) there won’t be a ton of water, and the best time to visit is the spring or late fall after we’ve had considerable rainfall. Spring is also nice for the newly sprouting trillium and wood sorel that dot the trail. 

Dry Creek Falls

  • Length: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 725 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location: Bridge of the Gods Trailheadneed a NW Forest Pass

There’s nothing dry about Dry Creek Falls. The falls itself is at the end of the “out” portion of the hike, and stands 74 feet high.

It’s surrounded by moss and ferns, and you can even check out the old water weir that used to divert water from this source down to the town of Cascade Locks (this is what originally made it “dry” up).

There’s not a lot of elevation gain, the whole trail is well graded, and there are no super steep areas making it great for beginners or those seeking an easy trek.

You’ll park at the Bridge of the Gods trailhead which requires either a NW Forest Pass or a Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Day Pass, which can be purchased for $5.00 online here

This hike was also affected by the 2017 wildfires, but is slowly starting its regrowth. The trail starts on a paved section that runs parallel to the 84, but it soon cuts off on the PCT and into the woods.

The location of the trailhead also makes it ideal to pop into the town of Cascade Locks for lunch, or head over the Bridge of the Gods (and pay the $2 toll), and lunch in Stevenson on the Washington side.

Cape Horn

  • Length: 7.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,240 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location: Cape Horn Trailhead

Even though I’ve done the Cape Horn hike at least a half dozen times, I’m always pleasantly surprised with how nice it is. It’s a great combination of mountain views, meadows, forested trails, creeks, and some decent climbs to get the blood pumping. 

The one thing to know about this hike is that a portion of it is closed February 1st through July 15th to protect nesting peregrine falcons. You can still do the first half of the hike year-round, but it turns it into an out and back.

Also keep an eye out for poison oak; I feel like it’s extra bad around here. There are also parts of this hike, especially when you’re on the latter half of the loop hiking parallel to the water, that can be mind-bogglingly windy. Leave the parachute pants at home.

The hike starts you climbing right off the bat, but you’ll quickly come up to some nice views both to the north and the south after about a mile. It then gradually starts cutting back toward the river and you’ll eventually come to a big open meadow and established viewpoint called the Nancy Russel Overlook which is an ideal spot for a windy lunch.

The hike continues on toward the river till you’re really just hugging the basalt walls and catching great views of the Gorge the whole way. The only down-ish side of this hike is that the last mile or so is on a road that takes you back to the trail head, but it’s rarely used by cars and is still a nice walk.

Kings Mountain

  • Length: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,545 ft.
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead Location: Kings Mountain Trailhead

Most hiking guides bill this as a “moderate” hike, but it’s definitely on the harder side of moderate and I’m no weeny (Matt and Alysha here – can confirm, this one’s a thigh burner!).

At a solid hour from Portland, this is the farthest away hike we’re showcasing, but it’s unique in that it’s west of the city in the Coast Range. The Tillamook Forest is a great alternative to the often busy Gorge and Hood hikes, and will give you some of the best hikes near Portland.

Kings Mountain is a great choice if you want a challenging hike with good elevation gain, but because its starting elevation is only 700 ft. it’s usually doable year-round and won’t see as much snow as similar hikes to the east.

This hike is also especially beautiful in the spring with its abundant wildflowers. The trail is always well maintained by the Mazamas (a local mountaineering non-profit), but depending on your knees you may want to bring poles (I do). 

This is a steep hike but the views at the top are incredible. There’s also an elevation sign and log book at the top so you can snap a pic and sign and leave a message.

If you really want to torture yourself, you can add in a second summit of nearby Elk Mountain but that will put you at a tough 12 mile day. It’s fun though, and there aren’t too many options for two awesome summits so close to one another. 

Angels Rest

  • Length: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,475 ft.
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Trailhead Location: Angels Rest Trailhead

Angels Rest is a crowd favorite. It checks all the boxes: close to Portland (35 minutes), great views, decent elevation gain, well-maintained trail, not too long and not too short.

Angels Rest climbs steadily pretty much the whole way up making it great for those looking for a workout. It’s never too steep, but it really doesn’t ever level off for any considerable stretch, so your heart will be pumping the whole way up.

There are also some decent spots to stop and rest on the way up that offer nice Gorge views. 

Once you get past the tree cover at around mile 2, the last bit of climb is on sunny talus slopes that offer views to the west of downtown Portland sitting snugly in the West Hills. The summit has many good spots to sit down for a snack and a view which is nice because although popular, once up top there’s enough room to spread out and it doesn’t feel too crowded. 

It’s worth noting that it’s normally very windy up there, so be prepared. You’ll have worked up a sweat on the way up and no doubt shed some layers, but once you reach the top it’s not uncommon to get hit with a gust of wind and quickly put your jacket back on and start searching for your hat and gloves. 

Parking can be difficult, and you’ll often find cars lined up along the roads. When it fills up, there’s really nowhere else to go so come early (or late during the summer) to ensure a spot. 

Portland Hiking: A Map of the Hiking Trails in Portland

When to Go Hiking in Portland

If you’re staying within the Portland metro city limits, all hikes should be accessible year round.

Yes, it’s likely there will be rain, but you shouldn’t have to worry about snow (usually). Honestly, the biggest warning I would give about timing your hike would have to do with crowds and parking.

As Portland grows and grows, the close-in Portland hikes can be prohibitively busy, especially on a sunny weekend. Also, the Columbia River Gorge saw major fires in the summer of 2017 and many trailheads have yet to reopen after the destruction. This means more people are sharing hiking trails that would have seen more spread out usage in the past.

But all of this is no excuse not to get out there! The great thing about Portland (if you’re cool with rain) is that hiking is available year round. Plus, at least 62% of the time (my own calculations) the rain really isn’t more than a light drizzle that a good rain jacket (Matt & Alysha here – you can’t go wrong with Columbia’s rain jackets, and the company is headquartered in nearby Beaverton) can’t insulate you from.

Honestly, Portland has a reputation for always being rainy, but it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. It’s always a good idea to bring a dry set of clothes to change into after your hike, or at very least a dry pair of socks and shoes. So get your rain jacket and a good pair of shoes and get out there! 

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