United States

Things to Do Outdoors in and Around Portland

Blanketed across the confluence of 2 majestic rivers and within an hour of both the Pacific Coast and Cascade Mountains, Portland and its lush environs have something for nearly every lover of the outdoors.

Hardcore funhogs can snowboard and run whitewater on the same day almost any time of year and still be back in the city for dinner. More contemplative types might prefer a hilly amble through Portland’s urban, but seemingly boundless Forest Park. Anglers can drop a line for wild salmon where the placid Willamette River runs beneath downtown bridges. There’s surfing at the coast, kite-boarding on the Columbia, and miles of bicycling on non-vehicular paths. Rock climbing, golf, skate parks, birding; you name it and you can find it somewhere in or close to Portland.

Here are some of the most popular active outings in the area.

Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon

1. Ski and Snowboard Mt. Hood in Winter and Summer

Iconic Mt. Hood stretches high above the surrounding hills east of the city. An hour or so in a car or bus can get you to 1 of the giant volcano’s several alpine ski resorts.

Mt. Hood Meadows Resort has the edge on winter terrain. Timberline Lodge is the only place on the mountain where you can still ride lifts to ski and snowboard in the heat of summer. Mt. Hood Skibowl is the largest night skiing resort in the country. And, there are plenty of places to seek out backcountry ski terrain for those qualified to do so. Visit fs.usda.gov/mthood for more information on backcountry skiing (and other activities).

2. Kayak Downtown

See Portland’s skyline in relative solitude by kayaking the broad Willamette River through downtown. Few large vessels ply the city center waterway; most ships and barges never venture past the commercial ports downstream. Instead, you may share this section of river with a couple of colorful Dragonboats (large paddle-powered race boats with Chinese-influenced serpent designs) or an occasional sailboat. Rent kayaks from Portland Kayak Company or Alder Creek (Alder Creek rents stand up paddle boards too). In summer, Portland Kayak Company runs guided kayak tours a couple miles upstream from downtown where you might see great blue herons, bald eagles or osprey in the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

3. Hike Forest Park

You don’t need to leave town for a hike through shadowy, towering stands of Douglas fir, hemlock and western red cedar trees. Portland’s nearly 5,200-acre Forest Park boasts more than 80 miles of trails, which are accessible from more than 2 dozen trailheads. Most of the trails are interconnected via the park’s 30-plus mile sinuous Wildwood Trail. Skip out of trendy NW 23rd Avenue, walk a few blocks west to the entrance of Lower Macleay Trail. Follow the shady trail up crystal clear Balch Creek. You’ll never know you’re still in the city. Another option is the Maple Trail, festooned with its namesake trees along with red alder, sword ferns, and Oregon grape.

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