Part of what makes Portland special is its proximity to nature, so it’s no surprise that one of the country’s largest urban forests sits in the hills above the NW district. Forest Park is home to over 5,000+ acres and 70 miles of trails, providing both enough activities and shade to make for a fun summer outing.
The park was first proposed in 1903 by the Olmsted brothers, John and Frederick. They likely drew inspiration from their father, Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park in New York City. However, it wasn’t until 1948 that the land was officially dedicated thanks to strong advocacy from community leaders. Many work hard to preserve the park today; you can learn more on the Forest Park Conservancy website.
With all the trails, wildlife, and greenery, Forest Park has something for everyone. Some of our favorite activities include:
- Hiking to Pittock Mansion: This is a harder hike as it gains 800 ft. of elevation over 2.5 miles, but it’s definitely worth it once you reach the final destination. The former Oregonian publisher, Henry Pittock, built a truly special residence. The mansion serves as a museum and provides an outlook over Portland and many of the surrounding mountains. If hiking isn’t your thing, the mansion can also be reached via car.
- Exploring Wildwood Trail: The trail is the longest in the park at about 30 miles, making up a large portion of Portland’s 40 mi. Loop. Hiking the whole thing takes some dedication, so check out OPB’s five-part account before committing.
- Visiting the Audubon Society’s Wildlife Sanctuary: Nestled up against Forest Park with connecting hiking trails, the sanctuary offers 150 acres of land that lets you enjoy native plants and animals.
For a more complete guide to Forest Park, sign up for one of their Discovery Hikes, hosted by the Forest Park Conservancy Group. Portland Monthly also released their “8 Essential Forest Park Hikes”. With all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer it’s easy to forget what’s in our own backyard. We definitely encourage you to get out there and explore!