For those looking for superb urban hiking, it’s hard to beat Portland’s Wildwood Trail in Forest Park. The trail, which is designated as a National Recreation Trail, starts in Washington Park near the Oregon Zoo, enters Forest Park at mile three, and reaches its terminus at mile 30.2 at Newberry Road.
The trail is well maintained and well marked with blue blazes and mileage markers posted every quarter-mile. The first 5 miles of the trail are fairly busy since it provides access to several excellent must-see Portland sites.
The start of the trail is within walking distance of the Oregon Zoo, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, the Hoyt Arboretum, and the World Forestry Center. Additionally the International Rose Test Garden and Portland Japanese Garden are just a mile or two further in. Around mile four, a short detour will take you to the famed Pittock Mansion. You can tour the 102-year-old home for a small fee nearly every day of the year. Even if you choose not to go inside, access to the grounds is free and offers a stunning view of the city and a great spot for a picnic or rest break. Additionally, just past mile five you’ll find the Stone House, also known as the Witch’s Castle, located at the junction of the Wildwood and Lower Macleay Trail. It was built by the city of Portland in 1929 as a rest stop, but currently just the stone framework remains.
Beyond mile six the trail becomes less populated because it is used mainly by runners and hikers. In the spring you’ll find wildflowers and in the fall a gorgeous display of color in the trees. All along the trail you’ll find ferns, mushrooms, small animals, birds, and, if you’re lucky, a nesting pygmy owl.
There are a handful of roads that run near the trail, making it easy to section hike over the course of a few weeks or months. For those looking for more of a challenge, it’s absolutely possible to run or walk the entirety of the trail in one day. Many people prefer to start at the south end since the majority of the elevation gain comes within those first 5 miles.
The Wildwood Trail offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a long-distance run, a peaceful hike, or just a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.