Outdoors Portland, Oregon

12 Best Hikes IN Portland, Oregon for Views, Forest Trails, & Urban Walks

February 6, 2022

Last Updated:

Portland is a city with more green space and parks than most urban cities. And as a city sitting on dormant volcanoes, vast forests, and multiple rivers, this makes urban Portland a great place to hike! You don’t even have to leave the city limits in Portland to find exceptional hiking opportunities. So here are the best hikes in Portland for mountain views, forest wanders, and streams and river exploration. Note, this list is all about hikes in Portland – when you need a close-in nature fix versus a daytrip. So you won’t find Gorge hikes and Mt Hood hikes on this list. For the best hikes near Portland, jump to the end of the post for some of my favorite hikes within an hour-ish drive of Portland.

Best Hikes in Portland

1. Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion

pittock mansion views - one of the best hikes in Portland

I’ve written about this one in-depth on my Pittock Mansion Hike post. There are many hiking options around Pittock Mansion. My favorite two ways are Upper Macleay to Pittock Mansion, or Hoyt Arboretum to Pittock Mansion. This route is for Upper Macleay to Pittock Mansion. It’s a quick and beautiful hike through Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail. There are a few parts that can feel like a steep climb because of the elevation grade, but at 1.4 miles up, it’s a short uphill hike. And if you’re ready for more hiking after your roundtrip of 2.8 miles up to Pittock and back, you can continue down Wildwood to Witch’s Castle or explore the Portland Audubon trails!

Trailhead/Parking: Upper Macleay
Distance from Downtown: 3 miles (8 minutes)
Trail Length: 2.8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 515 feet
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
More Info: Pittock Mansion Hike / AllTrails

2. Witch’s Castle Hike

Witches castle hike

The Witch’s Castle Hike in Forest Park is one of the most popular hikes in Forest Park and one of our favorite urban forest hikes. It’s popular for a few reasons! First, it’s a short Portland hike – right in the city, which makes it a crowd-pleaser. Great for tourists and kids. Second, there’s something interesting at the destination point – The Stone House aka “Witches Castle” and a dramatic story to go along with it!

Trailhead/Parking: Lower Macleay Park (closed through March 2022, Stone House still accessible via Holman, Aspen or Wildwood Trails), or Upper Macleay Park.
Distance From Downtown: 2 miles
Trail Length: 1.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 270 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: Witch’s Castle Hike / AllTrails

3. Ridge Trail in Forest Park for views of St John’s Bridge

Ridge Trail views of St John's Bridge from Forest Park

This little hike is more of a challenge to get to. If you park in St Johns, then you can walk over the St John’s bridge (a great Portland walk on its own!). You then cross Bridge Ave and up to the Ridge Trail Trailhead stairs. Shortly after you reach Forest Park, you’ll come across this little lookout back on the St Johns bridge, Cathedral Park and St Johns. On super clear days you can also see Mt St Helens and Mt Rainer! There are a lot of small offshoot trails around Leif Erikson Trail here, so you can make your hike as long or as short as you want. For example from Ridge Trail, you’ll find Leif Erikson, Old Springville, Wildwood, Hardesty, and Tolinda Trail close by. Note: If you feel like hiking downhill first, you can park at Old Springville Rd Trailhead off Skyline Blvd.

Trailhead/Parking: Ridge Trail Trailhead (no parking). Park in St Johns or Bridge Ave parking.
Distance From Downtown: 8 miles
Trail Length: 2.3 miles from downtown St Johns bridgehead
Elevation Gain: 545 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

4. Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail hike in Portland

Portland’s longest continuous hiking trail, Wildwood Trail spans 30.2 miles in Forest Park, connecting from Washington Park all the way through to Newberry Road on the other side of Forest Park. Identifiable by the iconic blue diamond shape painted on trees every 1/4 mile throughout Forest Park. This is Portland’s favorite trail running spot, and thankfully there’s room for hikers too! One great hike or trail run on Wildwood is from NW 53rd Drive Trailhead and is a 2.5 mile loop from Alder, Leif Erikson, and Wildwood Trails. For a longer Wildwood Loop, I’d recommend the Leif, Wild Cherry, Wildwood, Dogwood Loop of 5.7 miles and 920 feet elevation gain.

Trailhead/Parking: NW 53rd Drive Trailhead or Leif Erikson Trailhead
Distance From Downtown: 6 miles (10 min)
Trail Length: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 499 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

5. Hoyt Arboretum’s Redwood Trail

Redwood deck in Hoyt Arboretum

Hoyt Arboretum is one of the most special forest places in Portland. With over 1,300 trees and plants, and numerous creeks and trails, Hoyt is like a forest sanctuary. And with Wildwood Trail running through it, being part of Washington Park, and close to Pittock Mansion and Forest Park, Hoyt is one of those places that links together many different nature areas. And with many short trail segments, it’s easy to see a lot of different areas and combine different routes.

One of favorite routes is the Redwood Trail that goes by the Redwood deck. You can even take the new Barbara Walker crossing over Burnside to connect up to Pittock Mansion, from Hoyt. Or for a 4 mile loop after the Redwood Deck take the Wildwood Trail east to the Japanese Garden & International Rose Test Garden and then back up and around to the Washington Park Archery Range, cherry trees (a great spot for cherry blossoms in spring) and back to the parking area.

Trailhead/Parking: Hoyt Arboretum Parking Lot or Washington Park Veterans for longer hike
Distance From Downtown: 3 miles (10 min)
Trail Length: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 150 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

6. Leif Erikson and Wildwood from Germantown Road

Forest Park Portland

Forest Park from the Northern side of Germantown Road has a quieter feel than the busier downtown side from Thurman St, where you find hoards of trail runners and bikers. Yes, you can run or bike all the way to this side from downtown (11 miles), or start at this end, but it always ends up being a little less crowded out here. Perfect for hiking and biking. This 2.3 mile loop takes Wildwood Trail to Waterline and then loops back on Leif Erikson Trail. You can also combine this hike with the Ridge Trail hike to see St Johns Bridge views over 5.7 miles of hiking. The Maple Trail is also a beautiful trail off Leif mid-Forest Park.

Trailhead/Parking: Leif Erikson Germantown Rd Trailhead or Wildwood Trailhead at Germantown Rd
Distance From Downtown: 8 miles (14 min)
Trail Length: 2.3 miles to as long as you want to hike!
Elevation Gain: 355 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: AllTrails

7. Marquam Trail to Council Crest & 4T Trail

This trail begins at the Marquam Shelter near the base of the OHSU hill, and winds up through the Portland Heights neigborhood on Marquam Trail and Council Crest Trail, crossing city streets a few times, until you reach Council Crest – one of our favorite Portland lookouts.

OHSU Tram view
OHSU Tram view looking toward downtown

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can hike 5.8 miles from Marquam Hill to Council Crest and continue on to complete the “4T Trail” – which is a combination of taking: trail, trolley, tram, and train. The 4T Trail is hiking from OHSU to the Oregon Zoo, taking the MAX from the zoo to downtown’s Galleria, hopping on the streetcar to South Waterfront, and taking the Aerial Tram to OHSU.

Trailhead/Parking: Marquam Nature Park
Distance From Downtown: 2 miles (10 min)
Trail Length: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 750 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

8. Mt Tabor

Happy New Year from Mt Tabor

Mt Tabor is one Portland’s most iconic parks. Not many cities can boast a park on top of an extinct volcanic cinder cone! Tabor has great views of the city, looking down Hawthorne Street all the way to downtown, and a few sneaky Mt Hood views on the other side through the trees. There are also several water reservoirs, playground, and plenty of trails.

Mt Tabor is more of a meandering hike and a picnic kind of space. While there are certainly mapped trails you can follow, it’s usually more of a walk for as long as you want and at some point you’ll circle back around! And since it has open views to the west and city skyline, Mt Tabor makes for one of the best sunset hike spots in Portland, whereas a lot of other hikes are deep in a forest with the West Hills and Forest Park blocking the sunset views.

Trailhead/Parking: Mount Tabor
Distance From Downtown: 6 miles (13 min)
Trail Length: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 220 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: Mt Tabor maps / AllTrails

9. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge mausoleum mural

Tucked in between the Willamette River and the Sellwood neighborhood, you’ll find Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. This 163 acre park has wetlands, forested area, and meadows. It’s a haven for all kinds of wildlife – heron, migratory birds, and even frogs and salamanders at the Tadpole Pond. This hike is great for bird watchers and kids. Overlooking the wetlands on the bluff is the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, with the largest hand-painted mural in the US. There are a few different starting points for Oaks Bottom, and Oregon Hikers has a great run-down. And while you’re in the area, Sellwood Riverfront Park is one of our favorite kayaking spots in Portland!

Trailhead/Parking: Sellwood Park or Sellwood Riverfront Park
Distance From Downtown: 7 miles (15 min)
Trail Length: 3.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 125 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

10. Eastbank Esplanade / Springwater Corridor / Trolley Trail

The Eastbank Esplanade Loop around the Portland waterfront is one of the best urban hikes/walks in Portland. While this one isn’t a hike from a trail perspective, the Eastbank Esplanade, Springwater Corridor and Trolley Trail are the most popular places to walk, run, and bike in Portland. With Willamette River views and paved wide trail, it’s also the most accessible! Opt for the 2.6 mile 4 Bridge Loop (Steel, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne). Or go for the 4.1 mile 5 Bridge Loop to add on the car-free Tilikum Crossing Bridge.

Cherry Blossoms at Waterfront Park on a sunny day
Waterfront Park loop – a great spot for cherry blossoms in spring!

If you’re feeling like a longer walk, run, or bike, the Springwater Corridor trail runs along the Willamette River – connecting the Tilikum Crossing Bridge / OMSI area all the way to Sellwood Riverfront park and is 3.3 miles oneway! And even further south, the Springwater Corridor merges into the Trolley Trail and will take you past Milwaukie Bay Park, Elk Rock Island (3 miles from Sellwood), and all the way to the Clackamas River in Gladstone and Oregon City (9 miles from Sellwood)!

Parking: Wherever you find a spot or SE Water Ave
Distance From Downtown: 1 miles (5 min)
Trail Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 110 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

11. Powell Butte

Powell Butte has one of the best views of Mt Hood, in Portland. Often overlooked, since it’s about 20 min from downtown on the eastside near Gresham.. What’s great about Powell Butte, is that there are several hiking options and ability levels here. The mountain lookout spot is less than a mile from the parking area – a short paved trail. If you want more, you can do the Powell Butte Loop trail for over 6 miles of trails circling the butte and even connecting to the Springwater Corridor on the south side of Powell Butte.

Powell Butte views of Mt Hood
Picture from: Friends of Powell Butte

The short walk to the summit lookout can also be a nice quick stopover on the way to Mt Hood, since Powell Butte is right on Highway 26.

Trailhead/Parking: Powell Butte Nature Park
Distance From Downtown: 12 miles (25 min)
Trail Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 110 feet
Difficulty: Easy
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

12. Tryon Creek

Tryon Creek hike in Portland

Just south of Portland you’ll find the huge Tryon Creek State Nature area that covers 658 acres. This triangular park’s boundary lines are SW Terwilliger, SW Boones Ferry, and the town of Lake Oswego to the south. With 8 miles of trails, there are many hiking options in Tryon Creek. One popular loop is the 3.5 mile Triple Bridge Loop. Iron Mountain Trail is another great option on the southern end of Tryon Creek near Lake Oswego.

Trailhead/Parking: Tryon Creek
Distance From Downtown: 8 miles (15 min)
Trail Length: 3.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 540 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
More Info: AllTrails / Oregon Hikers

Best Hikes in Portland

In summary, here are the best hikes in Portland.

  1. Upper Macleay to Pittock Mansion
  2. Lower Macleay to Witch’s Castle
  3. Ridge Trail in Forest Park
  4. Wildwood Trail in Forest Park & Washington Park
  5. Redwood Trail in Hoyt Arboretum
  6. Leif Erikson from Germantown Rd
  7. Marquam Trail to Council Crest & the 4T Trail
  8. Mt Tabor
  9. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
  10. Waterfront Loop Esplanade
  11. Powell Butte
  12. Tryon Creek

10 Best Hikes NEAR Portland (within 1 hour drive)

And here are the best hikes near Portland that are a bit more of a drive. Including Mt Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, waterfall hikes near Portland, and some valley and SW Washington hikes.

Wahclella falls - waterfall hikes near portland

Wahclela Falls
40 min from Portland
1.9 mile hike
Easy

Latourell Winter

Latourell Falls
40 min from Portland
.6-3 mile hike
Easy

Multnomah Falls Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls
40 min from Portland
2.2 mile hike
Easy to Moderate

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls Loop
40 min from Portland
6 mile hike
Moderate

Angel's Rest hike

Angel’s Rest Hike
30 min from Portland
4.5 mile hike
Moderate

eagle creek trail heights

Eagle Creek Trail
40 min from Portland
4-12 mile hike
Moderate

Dog Mountain hike

Dog Mountain Hike
1 hour from Portland
6.9 mile hike
Hard

Mirror Lake Mt Hood

Mirror Lake / Tom, Dick, & Harry Mountain
1 hour from Portland
4-9 mile hike
Moderate-Hard

Salmon River Trail
1 hour from Portland
2-8 mile hike
Moderate

silver falls trail of ten falls

Trail of Ten Falls
1 hour, 10 minutes from Portland
9 mile hike
Moderate

Best Hikes NEAR Portland

  1. Wahclela Falls
  2. Latourell
  3. Multnomah Falls
  4. Wahkeena Falls Loop
  5. Eagle Creek Trail
  6. Angel’s Rest
  7. Dog Mountain
  8. Mirror Lake / Tom Dick and Harry
  9. Salmon River Trail near Sandy
  10. Silver Falls Trail of Ten Falls

Happy hiking! And please remember to take care of nature: Leave no trace. Pack it in, pack it out. Peace, love, and views. If you need ideas for what to wear hiking in winter, check out my essential winter hiking gear list!

best portland hikes