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The 9 Best Spring Hikes Near Portland, Oregon

  |  Neighborhood Insight, Portland

While Portlanders like to hike all year long, there’s something about spring that brings a renewed love for hiking and outdoor recreation of all kinds. Maybe it’s the fields bursting with wildflowers, the longer and warmer days, or the sparkling waterfalls — or a combination of all of the above! 

To help you navigate the trails this time of year, we’re sharing a handful of the best spring hikes in the Portland area, all located within an hour of the city. Some are short jaunts through a park lined with wildflowers, while others are lengthier climbs offering views of surrounding mountains, rivers and other landmarks. No matter what hike you decide to conquer, you’re likely to fall just a little bit more in love with our beautiful region. 

NOTE: Check the website for each hike before you visit to ensure it is open and be aware of any restrictions in place. Remember to wear a face covering and maintain a 6-foot distance from other hikers at all times. 

 

Outer Loop at Tryon Creek State Park | Portland, Oregon 

Distance: 5.7 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 15 Minutes 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Outer Loop at Tryon Creek State Park Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

This popular state park spanning Lake Oswego and Southwest Portland puts on a wonderful display of Trillium flowers during the spring. In fact, it is home to the annual Trillium Festival in April! But you can see a number of other gorgeous wildflowers all spring long, especially along the 5.7-mile Outer Loop. This loop travels along the outer edges of the park, going through suburban Lake Oswego streets before returning to the lush greenery of the park through an old orchard. Some parts can get muddy and slick after a rainy day, so come prepared with proper footwear, and be sure to keep dogs out of the water, as the park is trying to restore spawning habitat in Tryon Creek. If this loop doesn’t suit you, take a look at the vast network of trails winding throughout the park for a shorter or longer trek. 

 

Dogwood-Wild Cherry Loop Hike in Forest Park | Portland, Oregon 

Distance: 2.6 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 15 Minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Dogwood-Wild Cherry Loop Hike Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Due to its proximity to the city, the southern portion of the vast 5,172-acre Forest Park is one of the most popular portions of the park for hikers. Plus, it has more genuine trails as opposed to fire lanes and old road tracks you’ll find elsewhere in the park. The Dogwood-Wild Cherry Loop Hike provides a challenge with steep elevation gain on big switchbacks, surrounded by incredible foliage, especially during the spring. You’ll pass by trillium, Indian plum, woods violet, fringe-cup, red flowering currant, coast toothwort, and Cascade Oregon grape. Keep an eye out for the hidden picnic table at the bottom of the Wild Cherry Trail, which makes for a particularly idyllic lunch or snack break spot. 

 

Camassia Natural Area Loop | West Linn, Oregon 

Distance: 1.4 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 25 Minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Situated just south of Portland in West Linn, the Camassia Natural Area is a protected preserve with a variety of wildflower meadows. The first meadow is filled with Common Camas early in the year, along with Rosy Plectritis and Oregon Saxifrage. Plus, the small wetland area is one of the best places in the Northwest to see Great Camas, a stunning blueish-purple plant native to the region. A trail junction leads to West Linn High School, which provides a side trip to a marshy area. This short loop hike is perfect for an easy-going stroll through the park — with no shortage of springtime scenery. The Common Camas can bloom at the preserve all the way through April and May. 

 

Oak Island Loop Hike | Portland, Oregon 

Distance: 2.8 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 30 Minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Oak Island Loop Hike Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Oak Island — which isn’t really an island, but more of a peninsula — is an idyllic place to bike and hike, especially this time of year. The 2.8-mile Oak Island Loop Hike travels through the heart of the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, where more than 250 species of birds dwell, from raptors in the grasslands to migrating songbirds in the trees. The park is open seasonally, from mid-April to the end of September, and the best times to visit are just after the reopening in the spring and just before the closure in the fall, when migrants such as sandhill cranes might be present. With views of Sturgeon Lake and Mt. St. Helens, this loop hike is beautiful any time of year — but especially on a clear, sunny day. 

 

Lacamas Heritage Trail | Camas, Washington 

Distance: 7 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 30 Minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Lacamas Heritage Trail Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Take a peaceful stroll along the wide and flat Lacamas Heritage Trail circling the shore of Lacamas Lake. In addition to the stunning lake views, you’ll see plenty of native wildflowers blooming along the trail during the spring, enhancing the already gorgeous scene. This is a popular out-and-back trail for joggers, walkers, and cyclists — especially on a pretty day in the spring and summer. The hike can be traversed any time of year, but it’s best when water levels are high, as lower water levels can create an unpleasant odor from the mudflats. To make your trek a bit longer, you can connect with the trails in Lacamas Park, the Round Lake Loop Hike and the Lacamas Creek Hike, or the Washougal River Greenway Loop Hike. 

 

Angels Rest | Bridal Veil, Oregon 

Distance: 4.8 Miles Round Trip 

Distance From Portland: About 30 Minutes 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Angels Rest Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

The Columbia River Gorge is a hotspot for hiking, both in Oregon and across the border in Washington, for its exceptional views and abundance of waterfalls and other cool geological features. Angels Rest provides a challenging uphill climb with summit views that make the effort worth it. Here, you’ll get a 270-degree view of surrounding scenery, including Beacon Rock, Silver Star Mountain, and of course, the stunning Columbia River down below. Along the 2.4-mile climb, you’ll pass by two waterfalls, an overhead view of Coopey Falls, and a quick detour to Upper Coopey Falls. With its proximity to Portland and unbeatable views, this trail can get quite crowded on sunny weekends — so consider trying this one on a weekday or early in the morning. 

 

Multnomah Falls | Cascade Locks, Oregon 

Distance: 2.4 Miles Round Trip 

Distance From Portland: About 35 Minutes 

Difficulty: Moderate 

Multnomah Falls Hike

Considered the largest waterfall in the state, Multnomah Falls measures 620 feet in height, spanning two tiers. Attracting more than two million visitors a year, this year-round waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge is the most-visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest. As you can imagine, this trail can get very crowded, so consider coming before 9 a.m. to beat the crowds. 

A paved trail travels to the top of the falls, passing by different perspectives of the waterfall, including a walk along Benson Bridge at the lower tier. After the bridge, the trail turns into 11 switchbacks for another mile to a ridgecrest. At the third switchback, you’ll find a bench with another view of the falls. The higher you go, the more views you’ll discover, including a glimpse of the Columbia River. At the top, there’s a junction that leads to the Multnomah Falls Upper Viewpoint, a balcony of sorts that looks down on the lodge at the lip of the falls, where a 10-foot uppermost tier splashes into a shady pool. 

 

Dry Creek Falls | Cascade Locks, Oregon 

Distance: 4.4 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 50 Minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Dry Creek Falls Oregon

Photo Courtesy of John Sparks, Trailkeepers of Oregon

Reach the stunning 74-foot Dry Creek Falls along this 4.4-mile out-and-back trail along the Pacific Crest Trail. This woodsy, relatively easy hike begins below the Bridge of the Gods, which crosses the Columbia River off I-84 near Cascade Locks. It eventually turns into a dirt road that leads to the falls, which put on a spectacular display during the wet months. Along the way, take in the beauty of Douglas firs and big-leaf maples, along with forest wildflowers like columbines in the spring. While the hike was certainly affected by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, most of the forest canopy is still intact. 

 

Dog Mountain Trail | Cook, Washington 

Distance: 6.9 Miles 

Distance From Portland: About 1 Hour 

Difficulty: Difficult 

Dog Mountain Trail Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Hill, Trailkeepers of Oregon

This popular hike attracts hikers from all over due to its access to the Gorge, exceptional views, and relatively short distance. But you’ll have to work for your views! The 6.9-mile trail is very steep, requiring both fitness and perseverance. If you want an easier route, consider walking the 1.5 miles up to the lower viewpoint and turning around. Many come to Dog Mountain to view wildflowers — especially in May and June, which means you’ll need a permit to access the trail between April and July. We recommend starting your hike either early in the morning (before 8 a.m.) or in the late afternoon to avoid the heavier foot traffic. 

 

Happy Trails! 

What spring hikes in the Portland area are we missing out on? Tell us about them in the comments below! 

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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