The 12 Best Hikes Near Portland: A Complete Hiking Guide

After three trips to Portland in the past year, including a month-long stay in the winter, we’ve finally gotten to check out all of the Portland hikes that were on our list. Portland has a bunch of gorgeous green spaces to take advantage of, along with some of the best hikes in Oregon just outside the city limits, particularly in the Columbia River Gorge.

While there are a staggering number of spectacular hikes within 90 minutes of Portland, we think that three hours of driving is a bit much for a day hike. Instead, we decided to keep this list of the best hikes near Portland to the ones that you can get to in 45 minutes or less (one way).

Here are 13 great hiking trails within 45 minutes of Portland that we have personally done and loved, including some that are great for families and less experienced hikers, and some aggressive climbs that will satisfy even the most seasoned hikers. 

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on one and purchase something, I make a small portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. It goes without saying that I would never recommend something I wouldn’t use or do myself.

A Complete Guide to Portland’s Best Hikes

Portland has some great hikes, both within its city limits, and within a short drive of the city center. 

Below, you’ll find our top picks for hiking near Portland, divided into hikes that are actually in Portland, and hikes that are just outside of the city, but are perfect for a day trip from Portland. 

Keep in mind, we are only including trailheads that are within 45 minutes of downtown Portland, which excludes amazing day trips from Portland like Silver Falls State Park (the Trail of Ten Falls is an incredible hike), and the Oregon Coast. 

The Best Hikes in Portland: 6 Hikes Within Portland’s City Limits

One thing to know about hiking trails in Portland: in places like Forest Park, Mt. Tabor, and Tryon Creek State Park, there’s a nearly endless combination of trails, weaving through the forest, across creeks, and to various viewpoints. Below, we’ve given you our picks for the loops we liked, but know that you can make each of them shorter or longer according to what you’re looking for. 

Lower Macleay Trail to Pittock Mansion

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 950 ft
  • Trail Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

If you only have time for one hike in Portland, this is our choice for you. It starts from the Lower Macleay Trailhead in northwest Portland, where there are bathrooms and a small parking lot.

From the trailhead, you’ll head into the heart of Forest Park, starting with a flat, meandering walk along the creek. About a mile in, you’ll hit the Witch’s Castle, which is a spooky looking building that used to be a ranger station and restroom, but was destroyed in the 60’s and never rebuilt. Today, it’s Insta-famous, with all sorts of graffiti covering nearly every surface. It’s very…odd. Peak Portland. 

After spending a second there, continue along the trail. You’ll cross a bridge across the creek, and that’s where the climbing starts in earnest. It’s all uphill from here! 

You’ll switchback up to the Upper Macleay parking lot, where you’ll need to cross the road, and start up the switchbacks on the other side. It’s a good climb, and you’ll probably be breathing a little bit harder when you arrive at Pittock Mansion than the people who are getting out of their cars after driving there. 

Admire the views, check out Pittock Mansion, and head back down the way you came when you’re done. 

You could do this two other ways, depending on what you’re looking for. 

  • To make it shorter, start at the Upper Macleay Trailhead, but know that you’ll miss the Witch’s Castle.
  • Do it one way from the trailhead to Pittock Mansion and continue into Forest Park and over to the International Rose Test Garden and Hoyt Arboretum. Just get a Lyft (or a ride) to the trailhead.

Note that the parking lot at the trailhead is small, but there’s plenty of street parking in the adjacent neighborhood if it’s full when you get there. 

Hoyt Arboretum

  • Length: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

We loved this one too, and it’s BARELY a hike, but we wanted to include it anyway because it was so cool. There is a whole system of trails within the Arboretum – 12 miles worth, to be exact – and we did the 1 hour loop (which took us 20 minutes), plus a little bit of exploring on the south side of the park. 

Did you know that an arboretum is like a botanical garden, but for trees? Me neither. In the Hoyt Arboretum, they have 6,000 trees of more than 2,000 different species! You’ll see redwoods, spruce, and a magnolia collection, among other things. 

We’d recommend combining the 1 hour loop, which takes you to the gorgeous Redwood Deck, and along the Spruce and Redwood sections, and the 2 hour loop, which takes you along the south end of the park, for a total of 2.2 miles. 

There are tons of interpretive signs along the trail – make sure to stop along the way to learn about all the different species of trees and shrubs you’re passing. 

Parking will cost you $2 per hour at the trailhead (machines take cards, or you can use Parking Kitty, Portland’s parking app), but we realized afterwards that you can basically park along the road pretty much anywhere there’s not a “no parking” sign for free. 

Powell Butte

  • Length: 4.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 554 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

This hike is best on a clear day, because from the summit of Powell Butte, which is an extinct volcano, you can see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, AND Mt. Adams. We saw a clear day in the forecast, woke up to some sun, and booked it out to the trailhead before the precious winter sun went away.

The hike starts from a relatively small trailhead with plenty of parking for a weekday, but I’m sure it gets packed on weekends. You’ll follow a wide, paved path along the northern edge of the park before taking a right at the fork to take Holgate Lane, which leads you down into the forested area. 

Meander through the ferns and tall trees before taking a left up the stairs and connecting with the Elderberry Trail, which is where the hike gets very woodsy, and connect with first the Cedar Grove Trail, then the Hawthorne Trail, which leads you most of the way around the western edge of the park and ends at the Summit Trail. From there, make the return down to the parking lot after you spend some time admiring the views of the different mountains in all directions. 

It’s a good urban hike in Portland, and like most of the parks in Portland, there’s a nearly endless number of trails that you can connect and explore, so hiking here never gets old. 

Mount Tabor – The Blue Loop

  • Length: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 250 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

Mount Tabor is an extinct volcano in southeast Portland, and from viewpoints on the west side you can get a nice view of downtown Portland. Like a lot of the other parks in Portland, there’s a nearly endless number of different hiking trails you could combine here. 

We did the Blue Loop, which is just over a mile and takes you up to the summit, down to the southwest side of the park around the two reservoirs, and back up to the summit before returning to your car. 

You can combine parts of the Blue and Green Trails to do a slightly longer loop – roughly two miles – that takes you around the entire boundary of the park in a big loop. For this one, you’ll walk on the outside edge of the big reservoir, and climb through the trees back up to the summit. 

The color coded markers along the trail make it super easy to figure out where you’re going. 

Forest Park Ridge Trail

  • Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 900 ft
  • Trail Type: Out-and-Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

The reason this hike is on this list is mainly the first quarter of a mile, which is where you get the spectacular view of the St. John Bridge. From there, it’s a good workout, but the views are nothing special. You’ll climb through the densely packed trees of Forest Park, eventually reaching a fire road that serves as the turnaround point. 

The parking lot for the trail is along NW Bridge Avenue, and is a tiny pullout along the side of the road. From there, walk back up the road to find the trailhead. 

Tryon Creek Triple Bridge Loop

This was our first hike in Portland’s city limits, and it didn’t disappoint. It was a gray winter day, and it was foggy and lightly misting, but that didn’t stop us from hitting the trail. It’s crazy that this is in Portland, because it feels like you’re out in the woods (aside from when you randomly pass houses next to the trail). 

You’ll meander through the woods, crossing several bridges over the creek, and gently climbing and descending with the rolling hills. It was actually pretty pleasant in the rain, although it was muddy in spots.

Thing to Note: When we were there, the Terry Riley Bridge at the northern end of the loop was closed, but you can do the North Horse Loop instead. 

7 Amazing Hikes Within 45 Minutes of PDX

Just outside of Portland, you’ll find a smorgasbord of amazing hikes, mostly in the Columbia River Gorge. 

These hikes below are all within 45 minutes of downtown Portland. 

Multnomah & Wahkeena Falls

Multnomah is the king (or queen) of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s a whopping 600+ feet tall, and should absolutely be at the top of your list of day trips from Portland – it’s about 30 minutes outside of the city. 

  • Length: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

Most people walk up to the viewpoint on the bridge, head back to their cars, and head home. But we think you should put on your hiking boots, strap on your daypack, and do the loop up and around Multnomah, passing nearby Wahkeena Falls on your way back. 

Because Multnomah Falls is so popular, you’re going to want to do this one early in the day to get a parking spot and beat the crowds. Plus, the falls itself is so much more peaceful without hundreds of people jockeying for the best photo spot. 

We recommend doing this trail clockwise, starting with the climb up to the top of Multnomah, then hitting Wahkeena on the way back down. 

The trail starts up the switchbacks to the left of the falls, aggressively climbing 700 feet over the course of a mile. When you reach the top of Multnomah Falls, there’s a nice viewpoint that’s worth a quick detour. The trail continues climbing over the next mile and a half or so, and you’ll pass multiple smaller falls along the way. Eventually, you’ll reach the high point, which isn’t marked or really all that special, and it’s all downhill from there. 

You’ll pass Fairy Falls on the switchbacks on the way down, and then Wahkeena Falls at the base of the trail. From there, you’ll follow a mostly flat trail back to your car at Multnomah. 

Latourell Falls

  • Length: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 650 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

This is a great add-on to the hike at Multnomah we mentioned above. It’s a short two mile loop with a little bit of climbing along the way, but it’s pretty accessible for most hikers. 

Again, do this one clockwise. Start with the climb up and to the left of the parking lot, which takes you to Upper Latourell Falls, which is a unique waterfall with two distinct levels. 

Then, you’ll loop down and around to the Lower Falls, which is the real stunner. It’s a 249 foot tall waterfall, which is nothing when you compare it to Multnomah Falls, but is certainly impressive when you consider it in its own right. 

At one point near the end of the loop, you’ll come to the road. If you turn right here, it takes you back to the parking lot across a bridge. DON’T DO THAT. Instead, cross the road and follow the trail under the bridge and to the base of the falls. You can get there either way, but this is the way you should do it.

Dry Creek Falls

This was our first winter hike in Oregon, and it didn’t disappoint. In the summer months, the waterfall might be a little less strong, but it was rip-roaring in February!

  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 900 ft
  • Trail Type: Out-and-Back
  • Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

The trail starts at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead, though there is more parking on the road leading to the trail. From there, it’s a straightforward, steady climb up to the falls. You’ll pass a couple of trail junctions – at the last one, take a right, which takes you up to the falls. 

It’s an easy trail, climbing just 800 feet over two miles or so, though it does get muddy along the way.

Cape Horn

Cape Horn is a hike in the Columbia River Gorge, but it’s on the WASHINGTON side of the river, which is important because there are only a few places to cross the river once you head out of Portland. It’s easiest to cross into Washington State on I-5, then head east into the Gorge along the Washington side. 

  • Length: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft
  • Trail Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

The trailhead has a relatively small parking lot, and there’s no overflow parking allowed on the roads nearby (though people certainly do it), so you’ll want to get there as early as possible to get your parking spot. 

Along the way, there are a couple of great viewpoints out into the Gorge, both east and west. The hike gets right down to business as you leave from the trailhead, starting a series of switchbacks that have you climbing roughly 800 feet over a mile and a half to the first of many viewpoints. You’ll meander through the forest, eventually crossing a road before you get to the next viewpoint at 4.2 miles in, which is also the turnaround point when the loop is closed (see below).  

The loop isn’t possible between Feb 1 and mid-July in order to protect the Peregrine Falcon nesting area, but you can still do an out-and-back hike when the loop is closed. The out-and-back to the furthest point on the trail is going to be 8.6 miles with 1,600 feet of elevation gain. 

Angels Rest

  • Length: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
  • Trail Type: Out-and-Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead Location

This is our most recent hike in the Columbia River Gorge, and it’s one of the best hikes in the area for its sweeping views of the Gorge at the top. It’s a climb to get there, but it’s well worth the effort when you’re sitting at the ledge overlooking the Gorge. 

It starts from the Angels Rest Trailhead, roughly 30 minutes outside of Portland. You’ll embark on a series of switchbacks interspersed with steadier climbs for the first mile and a half, with a few points where you have a preview of the view of the Gorge you get from the top. 

At 1.5 miles in, the trail turns into tight switchbacks as you make the final ascent to the top. You’ll cross a mini boulder field that is really nothing to be concerned about, and then find yourself at an intersection of trails, which was a little confusing. Luckily, we had the map downloaded. Follow the trail out towards the river for a bit and you’ll arrive at the viewpoint. 

It’s a pretty constant climb from the trailhead to the top, so you’ll need to be prepared for that. It also was somewhat muddy, and there were remnants of snow left over from a recent snowstorm. Waterproof hiking boots and trekking poles will be useful here.

Kings Mountain

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft
  • Trail Type: Out-and-Back
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead Location

This hike is actually not in the Columbia River Gorge- it’s out towards the coast, due west of Portland along Highway 6, which takes you to Tillamook. It’s part of Tillamook State Forest. 

We did this hike on the way back into Portland from a trip out to the coast, and we went in knowing exactly what we were getting ourselves into. This hike is STRAIGHT up. 2,500 feet of elevation gain over 2.5 miles is no joke. This hike is for people in good shape, and you’re going to need hiking boots with good traction for the climb through the dense forest, which is often muddy and slippery. 

All that being said, it’s a great workout, and from the summit you can see Mt. Hood to the east, and the coast to the west. At least on a clear day. The views are worth the climb – take your time, bring plenty of water and snacks, and get to the trailhead early because the parking lot only has room for 10-15 cars with no overflow parking. 

Warrior Rock Lighthouse Point Trail

  • Length: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: None
  • Trail Type: Out-and-Back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead Location

This hike is at the north end of Sauvie Island, which takes a while to get to from Portland. However, once you’re on Sauvie Island, you might just forget that you’re anywhere near a big city as you drive past farm after farm, with bald eagles sitting high in the trees, and all sorts of amazing birds hanging out around the island. 

IMPORTANT: There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead, though you will need to buy a Sauvie Island recreation permit, which you can get at these locations (we got it at Cracker Barrel right as you come across the Sauvie Island Bridge from Portland). Buy it BEFORE you head out to the trailhead, otherwise you’ll have to double back a long way. It’s going to cost you $10 for the day, or $30 for an annual pass. 

The hike out to Warrior Point Lighthouse is an easy, family-friendly one. It’s essentially flat, though it is 6 miles there and back.

One thing to note – this hike is SUPER muddy in the winter, so don’t wear your new white Nikes on this one. 

The Lighthouse itself is nice, and the beach nearby is worth stopping on for a rest and a snack before you head back the way you came.

When to Go Hiking in Portland

Like most of the Pacific Northwest, hiking in Portland is best during the summer. However, unlike a lot of places – like Mt. Hood, Bend, and Mt. Rainier – you CAN hike during the winter if you’re prepared for the elements. 

In the summer, you’ll find long, warm days that are the perfect time to get outside. Hit the trail early, before the heat of the day, and spend the afternoon refueling. The downside to summer is that trails are PACKED. You’ll need to be prepared to get up early and get out to the trailhead before 8am on weekends to guarantee parking, and even then getting a parking spot can be tricky. 

Spring is a good time to go hiking – particularly those precious spring days where it feels like summer is finally here, only to find yourself rudely set straight when it rains for the next ten days. Expect variable temperatures and rain, but the waterfalls are going to be roaring!

Fall is a great time to hike, with warm days and relatively little precipitation until later in the season. This is probably the best combination of weather and crowds. Plus, you’ll get some nice fall color, especially out in the Gorge. 

Unlike most places in the Pacific Northwest, you can go hiking in the winter here in Portland. We know because we did it. We stayed a month in Portland in February to make sure we could handle winter in the Pacific Northwest, and spent our days exploring Portland’s hiking trails. Is it ideal hiking weather? No, probably not. It’s cold and wet. But if you’re prepared with appropriate gear, then it’s really no big deal at all. I always say that if you don’t do things when it’s raining in the Pacific Northwest, then you’ll never get to do anything!

What to Pack for Hiking in the Pacific Northwest

In the summer, the answer is really no different than anywhere else. You can check out our day hike packing list to see what we think are the essential things to bring on a day hike

However, hiking in the offseason is probably a little different than other places. Rather than running into snow in Portland, you’re going to run into a lot of rain, and a lot of mud. 

Here’s Alysha, a born-and-bred Californian, on her first rainy hike in the Pacific Northwest (this is the Lolo Pass Trail at Mt. Hood). 

Here’s what we would pack if you’re planning on hiking in the Pacific Northwest during the fall, winter, and spring. 

  • A good rain jacket: If you have a good rain jacket, you basically can go hiking anytime and not worry too much about getting wet. Matt has the Columbia Watertight Jacket (women’s equivalent here), which is a great affordable option that he likes. An upgrade would be the Black Diamond Stormline Stretch Rain Shell, which is the last rain jacket you’ll ever buy. 

  • Gloves and a warm hat: Never have my ears been so cold on the trail than the week it snowed in Portland.  

  • Waterproof hiking boots: Boots are important for traipsing through mud, and waterproof is important for the rain. We like the Columbia Newton Ridge boots, which are a good blend of affordability, style, and functionality. Alysha has them and likes them – they’d be a great first hiking boot. Matt’s favorite hiking boots are these Salomons, which are lightweight, durable, and will keep your feet nice and dry. 

  • Waterproof pants: There’s nothing worse than being soaked to the bone, which can certainly happen in a downpour in the PNW. We each keep a pair of waterproof rain pants stowed away in our backpacks, just in case. 

That’s all folks!

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