Whenever we don’t feel like packing up the car and driving to the mountains, we explore neighborhoods around town and call it urban hiking.
Mt. Tabor is a park on a dormant volcano located in Southeast Portland. We venture over here every once in a while to walk around the trails and let the dog run around. There are about 5 miles of trails throughout the park and plenty of green space. Cars are only allowed in the lower area of the park and aren’t allowed at all on Wednesdays, so it’s the perfect place to go for a relaxing walk. On a clear day, you get a beautiful view of Mt. Hood from the top of the park.
We initially planned to walk across the St. John’s Bridge and hike some of the northern trails in Forest Park. We made it about halfway across the bridge before deciding that we’d actually rather walk around the neighborhood since it’s a place we’ve never been before. The bridge itself is a gorgeous piece of architecture, and the area around it was surprisingly lively. We were right near Cathedral Park, which is nestled in an old industrial area of the city right on the Willamette River. The park got its name from the Gothic arches supporting the bridge. We walked along the beach and Snickers had a blast running in the sand and wading in the water. We ended up walking around abandoned warehouses and an eco-industrial space called Green Anchors.
Washington Park is another large green space in Northwest Portland. We walk here often from our apartment and wander through the neighborhoods on our way to and from. There are amazing houses in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, and you can’t beat an ice cream cone from Salt and Straw in the Alphabet District. Washington Park is also home to the arboretum, the Oregon Zoo, and the International Rose Test Garden to name a few attractions. We haven’t explored the whole park, but we like walking along the trails and through the gardens.
Hoyt Arboretum and Pittock Mansion
At the northwest end of Washington Park lies the Hoyt Arboretum – 190 acres of trees and gardens with 12 miles of trails winding throughout. Portland got a dusting of snow in early February, and we headed here on a Sunday morning while there was still snow on the ground. There are plenty of well-marked trails throughout the park, and we did the 1-hour loop (didn’t actually take us 1 hour; it was about 1 mile long) followed by a 1.5 mile hike on the Wildwood Trail up to the Pittock Mansion. The arboretum and trails were not too difficult and are a great way to get into nature without traveling outside of the city. The Pittock Mansion is a gorgeous structure that sits atop a hill with a magnificent view of downtown Portland and the mountains. It was built in 1909 and purchased by the city of Portland in the 1960s as a historic site.