In a city within an hour of Mount Hood and the Cascade range to the east and the coastal range to the west, there’s no shortage of natural beauty within a day trip of Portland. But you might be surprised by the lush, secluded hikes within a 10- or 15-minute rideshare of downtown.
Tryon Creek Outer Loop
Seven miles east from Portland, this 5.7-mile loop through Tryon Creek State Park ascends a mellow 630 feet through damp second-growth forest of cedar, maple and yews, as well as surprisingly lush undergrowth dominated by sword ferns. There’s plenty of fauna that can be spotted along the way, too, including coyote, fox, skunk, flying squirrels, beaver and six species of salamander. Go for post-hike pick-me-ups at Tryon Creek Grill and Chez José – the latter serves solid Mexican food and margaritas.
Doan Creek Loop
Though Portland has the longest soft-surface hiking trail within a US city in the 30-mile Wildwood Traverse hike, it’s a bit much for a single-day outing. Instead, try some of the medium-length hikes that branch off of it, such as the nine-mile Doan Creek Loop, which follows a zig-zag path along wooded hollows and ravines. Violet, Oregon flags, trillium, fairy bells and vanilla leaf bloom in the spring on different parts of the trail, and it’s just removed enough from the city to offer more solitude than some of the other treks.
BPA Road-Newton Road Loop
One of the more demanding hikes on this list – at 8.1 miles and 2,600-foot elevation gain – this loop travels through the northern, more remote section of Forest Park, where Portland’s elk herd graze in forest openings and wildlife corridors connect to the coastal range. You’ll be able to hike along a variety of settings, from cedar forests and blackberry patches to maintenance roads and relic logging tracks.
Marquam Trail to Council Crest Hike
For a decent workout without having to drive too far away, try this 5.8-mile out-and-back hike, which gains 1,100 feet and is just 12 minutes from Downtown Portland. It sees fewer visitors than some other urban hikes, so this is a great spot for those seeking some solitude with nature. The trail winds over footbridges and through quiet forests in Marquam Nature Park and offers lovely views of Mount Hood.
Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion
This moderate 5.7-mile round-trip hike gains 960 feet in altitude and is only three miles from Portland. While it can sometimes get a bit crowded, it offers killer views of the city and Mount Hood to the east, and leads into 5,100 acres of forest with a grove of old-growth Douglas firs and fern-laden slopes. You’ll end up at the keenly restored Victorian mansion of Henry Pittock, a former alderman. After the hike, make a beeline for the nearby Breakside Brewing in the Slabtown neighborhood.