9 a.m. and 1 p.m. departures, 3-4 hours, $50
Portland is not just a good walking city, but a fabulous hiking city; one of the best in the world. No other city in the U.S. has such a large forested park within the city limits, and very few other cities have such magnificent native trees within walking distance of the breweries and coffee shops of the center city.
Our two urban hiking tours start in or near the center of the city. Our morning tour starts at a coffee shop in NW Portland, accessible by city bus; our afternoon tour starts in Goose Hollow at the western edge of downtown Portland, passing through a neighborhood nestled into the slope of the Tualatin Mountains. Both include between 800 to 1,000 feet elevation gain. Both tours end in a different location than they began, but both are within a few steps of transit.
Being in Forest Park is to be immersed in a sense of both vitality and stasis, this fluid place that exists both in and out of time. In the forest — within a minute or two of leaving a city street — you can forget, or ignore, or wonder at the fact that you are still in a city. Signs of civilization drop away, only occasionally encountered (on cloudy weekdays) by runners and dog walkers and the few times the pathways cross busy city streets.
Forest Park experience 9 a.m. We start with coffee and snacks at the Clearing Cafe, a jumping-off point for the 5,000-acre forested area. We’ll start our hike up toward the quixotic Witch’s Castle. While the origins of the building itself are not very magical, it has gathered its magic in the decades since its damage in the 1962 Columbus Day windstorm. From here we head up the hill, stopping to see streams cascading into basalt-lined pools, beautiful moss- and fern-covered Western redcedars and big leaf maples, and the stately towering Douglas-firs. We’ll arrive at the Pittock Mansion to view the city laid out before us before descending into Washington Park, where we will end at the International Rose Test Garden. Three hours, 4.5 miles.
Transit stop for the starting point: #15 Trimet bus, NW 27th and Vaughn
Downtown to the Forest 1 p.m. We’ll meet at Fehrenbacher Hof, a German coffeeshop in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, taking secret passageways through this cozy neighborhood and into Washington Park. We’ll climb staircases and follow serpentine paths up to the International Rose Test Garden and past the Japanese Garden to enter the Forest Park trail from the top. Next we’ll cross Burnside (the north/south divider) to the heights of Portland, the Pittock Mansion. We’ll hike back down again from here, past the Witch’s Castle and sparkling streams, into the beautiful Northwest Portland neighborhood named after the park. Four hours.
Book either tour below!