Get Out There!
Portland’s Best Outdoor Activities
Portland has quickly become one of the most desirable urban destinations in America. Twenty years ago, it was barely on the map, and now it is the subject of movies, TV shows, songs and more as it rises to a lofty place in the national consciousness. The diversions here are many and the stuff of legend. To start, the music scene is hopping, with amazing bands coming out of Stumptown and many more visiting the awesome venues here. Cuisine culture has exploded all over the dinner plates of the crowds of foodies who flock here to sample what the area’s talented chefs concoct. Wonderful museums, charming neighborhoods, craft breweries – what’s not to love?
But in all the hubbub of the metro area, many forget the epic outdoor adventures to be had here as well. Just look around the city in any direction. Portland is surrounded by hills, mountain and greenery in all their Pacific Northwest majesty. Emerald stretches of old-growth trees beckon while meandering waterways open up for those more nautically inclined. Hikers and bikers may find a fine patch of nirvana here while wildlife watchers will surely need to keep their eyes open. Whether you want to drive a bit or stay close to the hotel, Portland has some wonderful outdoor diversions to check out.
Park It Here
Portland has a number of parks for folks to retreat to and recharge within. Fortunately, these green spaces within the greater metro area are numerous, inviting and transformative. Begin with probably the most famous park here: Forest Park is a mere ten minutes away from downtown – but it’s a totally different world and is, in fact, the largest urban park in the US. Enter an enchanted 5,000-acre space thick with trees and hiking paths galore. Fern-lined pathways offer a floral passage through a peaceful oasis that will feel like the Northwest’s version of Eden. And don’t be shocked if you run into some elk, woodpeckers or bobcat while you’re there! You may be visiting, but for native wildlife, this place is home!
If you’re seeking out more traditional urban park jaunts, there are a few less overpowering places to try. For those who wish to be elevated to greater heights, it may be a good idea to hike up Council Crest Park. From the top of its hills, a very rewarding view of the city below can be thoroughly enjoyed. Laurelhurst Park is a great area to take a casual stroll between sightseeing. This is a dog-friendly place with plenty of off-leash zones. Bask in the quiet environs of the duck pond or see if you can’t get into a friendly pickup game at one of the park’s basketball courts.
Embarking on Bigger Adventures
Besides all of the relaxing spaces within Portland’s limits, the city is also in proximity to some of the most amazing national parks and natural features in the world. Standing out proudly as the most obvious of these wonders is nearby Mount Hood to the east. Hiking is tremendous and you can even summit up to the peak at 11,249 feet if you’re feeling bold. Backpacking and overnight camping sights are all over the place as are cabins and even lodges for those who prefer a more luxurious experience in nature. There’s also great skiing and snowboarding here as well.
Another huge outdoor area to check out not too far from Portland is the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the north and east. This is the home of the Mount St. Helen’s National Monument, where the remnants of the devastating volcano blast of 1980 can be seen. It’s an amazing thing to see how that event reshaped the entire region. Here there are caves to explore, great fishing opportunities, unique geological features and much more. Also, see if you can’t get a good guide to introduce you to all the great edible berries which grow wild here!
Finally, there are some terrific water-based outdoor activities to check out in Portland. Staying within the city, you can go kayaking right through downtown on the Willamette River. Just thirty miles out of town, you can visit the incredible Multnomah Falls. This is an amazing Instagram kind of place complete with an awesome footbridge bringing you closer to the cascades. Travel a couple of hours west and you’ll even hit the Pacific Ocean at the amazing natural beaches of Clatsop State Forest!