If you’ve seen a thermostat or been outside lately it doesn’t feel like summer is close to being over. As it looks now we’ve got a good chunk of sun and heat left here in Portland. To take advantage of it while still padding your wallet can be challenging but the wonderful thing about Portland is the abundance of accessible parks within the city limits and the incredible scenery they offer. So if you’re looking to save a few bucks but still go out and enjoy what Portland has to offer, here are three great urban Portland hikes:
Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion (3.8 miles)
The Pittock Mansion sits quaintly atop the hills overlooking Northwest Portland. It is often forgotten but stands as one of Portland’s most iconic tourist destinations – marking the history of Portland in a museum fashion. The residence was built in 1909 by the Oregonian’s editor of the time Henry Pittock. Shortly after the construction of the building Pittock died leaving the residence to his grandson and another longtime resident. After some extensive storm damage in 1962 the home eventually made its way into the hands of the City of Portland where it has remained as a heritage and history site dedicated to Portland’s history and the impact of the Pittock family.
The trail leading from Northwest Portland’s Lower Macleay Park up to the Pittock Mansion is a 3.8 mile out and back trail that winds up the hills through densely forested land. Along the popular trail hikers can expect to encounter a handful of trail runners as it is a popular destination for training of the kind. The trail is rated as moderate, but for those who haven’t taken part in many hikes there is some fairly steep incline at certain points, so be prepared to work those lungs just a bit.
The trail head is located underneath the Northwest Thurman Street Bridge and can be accessed from Northwest Upshur Street. More information on the hike can be found here.
Marquam Shelter To Willamette Park (3.5 miles)
Since 1983 Marquam Nature Park has served as one of Portland’s premier urban hiking options. The roughly 180-acre nature reserve includes many different hikes and connections to other trails running through Portland. The park is home to a number of indigenous species and is a small haven to wildlife inside the city limits. Although the park became controlled by the city in 1989 the original creators, Friends of Marquam Nature Park, still serve as the main maintainers of the land.
The Shelter to Willamette Park trail option offers a relatively short distance with varying difficulties along the way. It begins at the park’s main entrance and proceeds onto the Shelter trail. After a short climb continuing straight on the Marquam Trail will direct you towards Willamette Park. You will encounter some moderately steep climbs and descents, muddy sections and switchbacks.
Access to the Marquam Shelter can be found from SW Sam Jackson Park Rd. More information on the hike can be found on the Friends of Marquam Nature Park webpage.
Westmoreland To Reed Canyon
Of all the Portland neighborhoods to experience gentrification and explosive development, Southeast’s Sellwood and Moreland areas have somehow been able to minimize their change. It’s a breath of fresh air for anyone looking to get a feel for what Portland is truly like – and to be surrounded by true Portlanders…for the most part.
This hike is a 4 mile out and back route which includes both city and park landscapes. Beginning your journey on the busy Sellwood corner of SE 17th and Bybee you will proceed to pass along both the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden and stunning Reed College campus. This hike is mostly on paved ground so hiking boots/shoes are completely unnecessary – just some good old tennis shoes should do the trick. The path is fairly straight forward. Moving eastward on SE Bybee Blvd you will then take a left on SE 28th Ave., which will take you along both the Crystal Springs Garden and the Westside of Reed College Campus.
Once you have reached SE Botsford Dr. take a right and you will loop around a small section of Reed Lake before backtracking along the same route you came from. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden has free admission, so if you can plan your hike for one of those days you can be treated to one of Portland’s beautiful hidden gems.