1. Council Crest- 3.3 miles
This hike is a good way to get some decent elevation gain in SW Portland. At the Summit, Council Crest Park, you can expect a 3 mountain view on a clear day, as well as a look into downtown. There is a ring road and lots of cyclists and drivers also come to take in the view.
Start out at the Marquam Nature Park Shelter Trailhead and head to the left. Almost immediately you will hit a junction- head to the right, following the signs to Council Crest. Continue until you reach a junction with the trail that heads down towards the Broadway Avenue trailhead and head towards the left, again following the signs. Soon you will leave the solitude of the forest and travel through neighborhoods in between rows of large houses. There will be a few street crossings over busy roads which do not have crosswalks. The hike steepens just before you summit, so don't give up!
On the return trip you can add in a loop that adds no distance to the hike. At the Broadway Avenue junction, head to the left this time. At the next intersection, there will be an option to continue towards the Broadway trailhead, but head to the right instead, towards the Marquam Park Nature Shelter.
2. Powell Butte, many trails.
Today, miles of trails accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Abundant wildlife populates the park, including rabbits, ring-necked pheasants, ground squirrels, raccoons, gray foxes, skunks, bats, chipmunks, coyotes, and black-tailed mule deer. The park is home to many birds of prey with its open meadows, groves of wild hawthorn trees, forested slopes of Western red cedar, and wetlands near Johnson Creek.
If you park at the visitors center you can take a few trail to the top of the Butte, and get views of Portland to the west and north, Gresham to the east, and SE Portland to Mt Scott to the south.
3. Tryon Creek, many trails. Family Hike approved!
Step into a lush forest, where woodpeckers forage, squirrels leap from limb to limb, owlets wait quietly for their next meal, beavers work busily by the creek, bats bury deep within the creviced bark of a Douglas-fir tree, and wildflowers paint the understory as the seasons change. Where you can explore 658 acres of second-growth forests, walk along the meandering Tryon Creek, and connect with the flora and fauna that call this special place home.
• 8-miles of hiking trails, 3.5 miles of horse trail, 3-mile paved bicycle trail, and a paved all abilities trail • 8 bridges and a wetland boardwalk • Nature Center with interpretive exhibits and store- this is a great place to layer up, use the bathrooms, dry off and warm up after a hike, or let little ones stretch their legs after being in a carrier on the hike. • Glenn Jackson Shelter
4. Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion- 5 miles.
This easily accessible in-town hike in Macleay Park features a charming creek, lush forest, and a victorian-era mansion with an expansive view of downtown Portland and Mount Hood. This is a great hike to recommend to visitors because you get the forest, a stream with little waterfalls, and an awesome view at the top.
Begin at the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead, and walk under the Thurman Street Bridge towards a red metal sculpture where the Lower Macleay Trail begins. As you approach the trailhead, notice on your left a very strange looking staggered arrangement of wooden walkways and fencing over the creekbed. This is the visual terminus of Balch Creek. It disappears under the huge grate apparatus - called a debris rack-and enters a tunnel where it travels several miles underground to an unnoticeable outlet near the shipping yards on the Willamette River. A rather humble ending to a very charming creek which you will see as you walk upstream.
The Lower Macleay Trail along Balch Creek ends in 0.85 miles where it runs into the Wildwood Trail at the Stone House. Go straight onto the Wildwood Trail, continuing up along the creek bed. You will soon cross over the creek on a footbridge and begin climbing out of the Balch Creek canyon and reach Upper Macleay Park on Cornell road, .54 miles from the Stone House.
Cross Cornell Road at the crosswalk and continue uphill on the Wildwood to the parking lot of Pittock Mansion. There is a fee to tour the inside of the mansion, but strolling the grounds is free. The eastern lawn provides spectacular views of downtown Portland and Mt Hood.
On the return trip, take the Upper Macleay Trail down to make a figure eight loop. It will return you to the Wildwood Trail just before you reach Cornell Road.
5. Wapato Greenway Loop- Sauvie Island- 2.2 miles.
This loop trail, a great family stroll, leads around a seasonal lake along the Multnomah Channel and under tall cottonwoods. The area is part of the Wapato Access Greenway State Park, which absolves you of the need for a Sauvie Island Wildlife Area parking permit. Waterfowl congregate on the lake and you will almost certainly see signs of beaver activity. Bring binoculars!
Hike past a gate and up a maintenance road past the entrance sign. To the right are dense woods with big-leaf maples and Douglas-firs as well as hazel and lots of Armenian blackberry. To the left is a meadow blooming with cow vetch in the spring. Reach a picnic shelter and keep left here under ash and cottonwood trees. A spur trail leads right to a viewing platform over Virginia Lake, which exhibits itself as a grassy expanse with a pond in the middle from mid-spring through fall. Look for the arrow-shaped leaves of wapato, or broad-leaf arrowhead , which blooms here in late summer. The roots of this plant were a staple of Native Americans who lived in the Columbia and Willamette River floodplains (In Europe, a similar species to this is called katniss, she of Hunger Games notoriety). Continuing on the main trail, hike down a vehicle track with thickets of willow, hawthorn, blackberry and hazel on both sides. A spur right leads to a blind from which you can see little as it is shielded by young cottonwoods. Pass a view of the pond and head back into cottonwood/ash woods. A spur left leads to Hadley's Landing, where there are a fishing dock, picnic tables and a horseshoe playing area. The trail now heads along the Multnomah Channel, which is screened from view most of the time by a line of cottonwoods. Snowberry thickets grow strong here, too. Short spurs lead to the high river bank. Soon, pass a cottonwood/ willow wetland on the right. The trail turns in, passing a clump of cherries. Take in a view of the North Pond wetland on the right and cross a footbridge. Reed canary-grass seems to dominate here, along with bluejoint grass. Ascend under ash trees to a road bed and an open field of cow vetch. Note a line of oaks to the right. The meadow is dotted with large sentinels of oak, Douglas-fir and grand fir. Get another view of the lake over the blackberry thickets which fringe the track. Pass a fenced cow pasture and head into a wonderful oak copse followed by dense oak/maple/ash woods. Skirt an inlet of the pond and reach an open area with a huge oak. Soon, arrive at the picnic shelter in its flowery meadow, and go left to head back to parking.
6. Forest Park BPA Road-Newton Road Loop- 8.1 miles.
The far north of Portland's Forest Park is also the least visited section. Here, Portland's elk herd wanders the forest openings and wooded wildlife corridors connect the Tualatin Hills with the Coast Range. When making loops in Forest Park, hikers need to use a variety of tracks, including maintenance roads, abandoned logging tracks, fire lanes, and foot trails. The loop described uses all of these and also takes some interesting detours, one to the area where Portland's elk herd often hangs out, another down Firelane 13 to a viewpoint, and a third diversion to Kielhorn Meadow.
7. Mt Tabor Loop- 2 miles.
Mount Tabor is an extinct volcano, one of many that dot the landscape east of Portland and make up a complex called the Boring Lava Fields. The mountain is the center of a city park of the same name designed by the Olmsteds. There are many routes you can take in this park. The one described here is a loop that gives the maximum elevation gain and distance, with varied scenery. Some points on this route are marked with posts painted with blue arrows.
Begin on the west side of the park, on 60th Street. Hike up the stairs near Hawthorn and 60th to the lowest of the three reservoirs in the park. Turn right to circle south around the reservoir. These reservoirs are the source of Portland's drinking water. The water is piped down from the Bull Run Watershed on the western flanks of Mount Hood.
When you reach the west side of the reservoir, take the stairs that will lead up to the next oval shaped reservoir. Turn right on the access road and look for a trail heading up uphill on your left. This trail goes over a small hill and drops down again above the third and oldest reservoir in the park. Cross the access road on the trail to continue to the summit. This side of the park provides a natural wooded setting amongst huge Douglas-firs. Unfortunately, English ivy and blackberry bushes have invaded the understory. Soon you will reach a five trail junction. In the center is a charming old streetlight with a mossy patina. Turn left here to reach the summit.
A circular drive surrounds the mountain top, but it is closed to motorized traffic. Up here you will just find cyclists, trail-runners and dog-walkers enjoying the summit. Birders with binoculars are often out scouting for the hundreds of species found in the park. From the statue of Mr. Scott, traverse northerly across the grassy hilltop amongst towering Douglas-fir trees. When you reach a bench near a large multi-trunked bigleaf maple, stop for a view of Mt. Hood to the east. Continue downhill northerly past the playground to visit the crater, which is now home to an amphitheater and a basketball court. Turn west from the basketball court and look for the blue signposts to find Skunk Canyon, filled with salmonberry and small cedar trees. At the bottom of the canyon trail, follow the signposts across the access road, and past the tennis court to return to the lower reservoir and 60th Street.
8. Kelley Point Park- 1.8 miles.
The Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet at Kelley Point, and the park's rustling cottonwoods and sandy beaches form idyllic verges to the wide expanses of these two great rivers. Before European settlement, this area was a seasonally flooded sandbar, but the park area was built up by dredgings from the Port of Portland. Hall Jackson Kelley, for whom the park is named, arrived here in 1834 and talked about building a city at the confluence of the two rivers. He ran afoul of the Hudson's Bay Company and returned to the East Coast, but his writings about the area became one of the inspirations for those who migrated here along the Oregon Trail.
From the South Lot, take a paved path at its southern end that leads into a forest of cottonwoods. At a junction, go left on a paved trail to a daisy meadow in an old walnut orchard along the Columbia Slough - an ideal spot for a bucolic picnic. Then return, and go left on the paved tread leading up the Willamette River. Nettles line the trail here. Paths lead left to the narrow beach. At a junction in an open area, take a bark chip trail down to the beach. Here there will usually be a rather tranquil scene, with a couple of fishermen and Caspian terns plying the waters in the summer. Across the Willamette are the fields of Sauvie Island. Walk along the beach to the pilings at the point, where cormorants and gulls perch for prey. The snowy summit of Mount Saint Helens protrudes above the row of cottonwoods on the Washington side of the Columbia. Turning the point at some wooden buttresses and an old anchor, you can see Mount Hood in the distance across the Friendly Reach. Head inland to the paved path and go left. Keep left under the cottonwoods, where there are many side trails. After you pass Picnic Area F, the trail curves right past a restroom building. Walk across a lawn to the north parking lot and then pick up a sandy track that heads across the peninsula through a snowberry thicket. At a junction, go left and reach a vehicle track. This parallels the paved trail you walked in on. Reach the paved trail and walk back to the South Lot. Alternatively, you can pick a route on one of the use trails through the undergrowth, but keep an eye out for nettles.
9. Cooper Mountain Loop Hike- 2.9 Miles.
On a sunny spring day, Cooper Mountain, one of the most recent additions to Metro's panoply of developed parks, is ablaze with unusual wildflowers and affords expansive views across the Tualatin River valley to the Chehalem Hills. There has been extensive work to restore the iconic oak savannah habitat that was in danger of being subsumed by encroaching Douglas-firs. The trails all lead downhill, so be prepared for some uphill on the way back. Interpretive signs around the park explain the natural history of the area. Watch for the resident bobcat in the upper grassy slopes of the park.
At the parking area, there are restrooms in the Nature House, picnic tables, and a play area for children. The trail leads out from the east end of the parking lot, giving views across a meadow to the Chehalem Hills and Parrett Mountain. Pass by plantings of ponderosa pines and come to a junction. To do a full circuit of the park, go left on the Little Prairie Loop. Enter Douglas-fir woods also populated with oaks and madrones. Poison oak is rampant here and climbs high in the trees. The trail switchbacks down four times to a junction. Head left to the Little Prairie Viewpoint. This gives a view over a meadow with hyacinth cluster lilies and white larkspur blooming in June on the shady rims. The Chehalem Hills can be seen over a copse of Oregon white oak.
Back at the junction, go left, walk 20 yards, and go left again down Blacktail Way, another wide graveled trail. Madrones and oaks are prevalent. The path winds down to a clearing with a "listening trumpet" for bird sounds. Keep heading down and cross a wide footbridge over a creek to pass through an open scrubby area with young cottonwoods, Douglas-fir, oak, big-leaf maple, ocean spray and madrone. At a junction, go left on the Cooper Mountain Loop. Soon reach the next junction, where you go left for the Larkspur Loop. This trail drops and then rises after passing over a creek running through a culvert. At the loop junction, bear left and head up in an oak savannah. Notice the poison oak here as well as the white larkspur blooming in the shade in late spring. The trail heads to the right and drops to reach the loop junction. Continue straight back over the creek to the junction with the Cooper Mountain Loop Trail and keep left.
The path reaches the Cooper Mountain Quarry Pond, which is a breeding ground for red-legged frogs. You may see tadpoles and salamander larvae here as well. This man-made oasis is also a good bird watching site. The trail drops, rises, and then turns uphill. Pass along the rim of an oak/madrone savannah, the Big Prairie. Come to a junction with a service road on the left. The trail ascends to the junction with the Overlook Trail. Go right here for views of the Chehalem Hills and Parrett Mountain. The tread rises through a willow thicket and, at a junction, go right, heading past Douglas-fir saplings protected by mouse netting. Cross over another wide footbridge. At a four-way junction, keep straight on the Cooper Mountain Loop. Head up in a meadow, and pass a spur trail on the left. At the junction with the Little Prairie Loop, go left and head uphill into a plantation of young ponderosas. At a last junction, turn left and walk back to the parking area.
10. Thousand Acres at Sandy River Delta Park- 4.2 Miles. Dog Approved!
The Sandy River Delta is by far the largest of Portland's off-leash areas, and a treasure for dog owners that love to run, hike, or just wander aimlessly with their pooch. The "Delta" comprises 1400 acres of wilderness trails, nestled between I-84, the Sandy River, and the Columbia River. The majority of the miles of trails within the park are officially designated as off-leash. The main exception to the off-leash rule is the parking area and the Confluence Trail, which runs from the parking area to the bird viewing area on the Columbia. In both of these areas you'll want to make sure your dogs are on leash because they do frequently ticket. Many of the trails lead to either the Sandy River or the Columbia River, so it's a great place to take your pooch to swim on summer days. The hike from the parking area to the rivers can be several miles, so be sure to bring along water just in case. The park is immense, will a plethora of wide open fields for stellar games of fetch. Bring your binoculars and camera, as the park is great for shutter bugs and birders. The park has recently been given a major overhaul, and now includes substantial parking, toilets, dog bag stations, and several garbage cans near the parking area. There is no running water in the park, so bring your own.