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Jonathan Stull | 11.06.2017

Here in Stumptown, the outdoor community is rich and diverse with adventures. We Oregonians are blessed with regional ecosystems that range from high desert to temperate rainforest, one brooding volcano, more waterfalls than can be named, and a corridor that constitutes one of the world’s most dramatic ecosystem changes—an ecotone, the Columbia River Gorge, where temperate rainforest gives way to the grasslands of the Columbia Basin in 80 miles. (Hike the Coyote Wall and see for yourself.)

But what about within city limits? If you don’t have the time to make the trip to the trailhead, there are enough parks in town to combine with your weekend plans, and they offer more than a hike in the woods.

The most visible outdoor destination in Portland is Forest Park, and the 8-mile preserve is one of the country’s biggest urban forests. Once logged and slated for development—part of the reason Stumptown has its nickname—the city gradually acquired parcels of land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As a result, the park boasts an infrastructure of roads and fire lanes for mountain biking in addition to an extensive trail network.

Home to the Pittock Bird Sanctuary Trail, the Wildwood Trail, the Leif, the Wild Cherry Loop, and the Maple Trail among many others, it’s the town go-to for close-in hikes and mountain biking, and its adjacent parks turn a morning stroll into a weekend adventure. Pittock Mansion, Washington Park, and Hoyt Arboretum offer a lot to experience, and all told, there are bird sanctuaries, hiking trails, fantastic views of the city skyline, a war memorial, a redwood grove, an International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Gardens, and more.

Other gems in the metro area:

  • Tryon Creek State Park in Lake Oswego is Forest Park’s little sibling, with educational programs, an urban farm, and miles of trails.
  • The Springwater Corridor is a great weekend bike ride that connects many of Portland’s noteworthy destinations, including OMSI, the Tilikum Crossing, Sellwood Riverfront Park, Oaks Bottom, and Powell Butte.
  • Mocks Crest is idyllic at sunset in the summer.
  • Cathedral Park in St. Johns showcases the Gothic architecture of its coolest bridge. The breweries and dives of north Portland beckon thereafter.
  • Mount Tabor is a forest oasis on the east side of Portland. Every year, it hosts a soapbox derby.
  • Joseph Wood Hill Park offers breathtaking views of Portland metro, and one of the city’s only climbing crags.
  • The Madrone Wall, a Portland-area project for decades, is FINALLY OPEN for climbers. Threatened by developers and closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons, it is Portland's newest crag.

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