hikes-0609

Looking east from the top of Coyote Wall near Bingen, Washington.

ONE OF THE BEST things about living in Portland is the ease with which we can escape the city for more rugged delights: a peak-packed panorama in the Gorge, a bird’s-eye view of the beach, a high alpine meadow strewn with nature’s floral confetti. But maximizing those out-your-back-door adventures requires some serious at-your-kitchen-table homework. So we paged through guidebooks*, consulted local experts, and wore a little leather off our own boots to bring you these thirty hiking and biking trails, all easily drivable in a day. By our count, there are about thirty weekend days left before the rain returns this fall—and we’ve got a ready-made adventure for every one.

 

Portland

Springwater Corridor

Biking Trail

Moderate This commuter superhighway between Portland and Boring isn’t just for the spandex species. The well-groomed path also provides frequent encounters with woodland denizens like woodpeckers and galloping white-tailed deer. In fact, as the trail (a former railroad route) plays leapfrog with Johnson Creek, crossing the water more than ten times, it passes through at least three different habitats, including Powell Butte Nature Park’s high meadows and Oaks Bottom’s low-lying wetlands, where you just might see the Rose City’s official bird, the great blue heron. —Kaitlin Johnson

ROUND TRIP: Up to 42 miles DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN: 2 miles PACK: Rubber to the Road; Springwater Corridor map at portlandonline.com/parks

Vancouver Lake

Biking Trail

Easy Technically a road ride, this route along Lower River Road from Esther Short Park nearly to Campbell Lake whips around Vancouver Lake before forking off to follow the Columbia River’s verdant shoreline. You may have to share the road with a few cars for the first five miles (and aggro cyclists going all Lance Armstrong on one of the metro area’s time-trial courses), but after that, your only companions will likely be casual riders seeking out the flat terrain or resident waterfowl, such as great egrets and peregrine falcons, cruising overhead. —KJ

ROUND TRIP: Up to 26 miles DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN: 15 miles PACK: Rubber to the Road; Frenchman’s Bar Ride map at vancouverbicycleclub.com

Oxbow Regional Park

Hiking Trail

Moderate Before Grizzly Adams laid down his rifle and began communing with furry forest pals, the bearded mountain man could track anything under the sun. If you’ve ever wanted to acquire such a skill, Oxbow Regional Park is the perfect playground. Bisected by the snaking Sandy River, the beachlike banks of the 1,200-acre park reveal prints from the multitude of mammals who live here, among them black-tailed deer, flying squirrels, beavers, and red foxes (you might even spot some cubs this month). The park offers a class in animal tracking if you want an expert to help you bone up. Just don’t expect to run into Ben, Adams’s ursine sidekick, on your hike; grizzlies don’t roam through Oxbow, just the occasional black bear. And we’re OK with that. —Kasey Cordell

ROUND TRIP: Up to 15 miles DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN: 20 miles PACK: Wild in the City; Oxbow Regional Park map at oregonmetro.gov; $5 parking fee

Macleay Trail

Hiking Trail

Easy Nestled in Forest Park, the Macleay Trail offers a walking tour of the city’s signature flora and fauna. The hike traces the banks of Balch Creek, home to native cutthroat trout and Pacific giant salamanders; and less than half a mile up the trail, hikers can marvel at one of Portland’s 282 (and counting) Heritage Trees—a 242-foot Douglas fir thought to be the tallest urban tree in America. Sunday strollers may opt to turn around at the Audubon Society, where injured owls and hawks are cared for, but those wanting to work off the eggs Benedict from Besaw’s on nearby NW 23rd Avenue can continue on the Wildwood Trail to tranquil Holman Meadow. —Brian M. Barker

ROUND TRIP: 2 miles DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN: 2 miles PACK: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland; The Hiking and Running Guide to Forest Park, 10-map set

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Hiking Trail

Easy It seems that every time we visit this popular Sellwood preserve, we bump into someone we know. But antique hounds and Southeast locals aren’t the only Portlanders who flock to this inner-city refuge along the Willamette—so do about 150 species of birds. Amid the woodlands at the base of a bluff, you’ll see (or at least hear) sparrows, wrens, and black-capped chickadees, while blue herons and cormorants stand like reeds in the marshland near Oaks Amusement Park. And in the parking lot, well, you just might see your neighbor. —KC

ROUND TRIP: 2.5 miles DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN: 3 miles PACK: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland; Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge map at portlandonline.com/portlandmigratorybirds

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Hiking Trail

Easy Lewis & Clark College biology students often study the plants and animals in this 670-acre recreation area. And what a laboratory: blooms of Indian plum and salmonberry crop up along Tryon’s twenty or so crisscrossing trails. The region’s waters also provide year-round habitat for steelhead trout, and some fifty bird species chirp from the branches of bigleaf maples and red alders. Sharp eyes may even locate northern saw-whet owls near the park’s nature center, where a handmade roost hangs. Sure beats a day in a lecture hall. BMB

ROUND TRIP: Up to 8 miles DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN: 6 miles PACK: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland; Tryon Creek State Natural Area map at oregonstateparks.org

The Guidebooks: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Portland by Paul Gerald (2nd and 3rd editions); The Curious Gorge by Scott Cook; An Explorer’s Guide: Oregon by Mark Highberger (2nd edition); Hiking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan (2nd edition); Mountain Biking Oregon by Lizann Dunegan; Moon Handbooks: Oregon by Elizabeth and Mark Morris (6th edition); Oregon’s Best Wildflower Hikes by George Wuerthner; Rubber to the Road: 30 Rides around Portland compiled by Peter Marsh; Wild in the City: A Guide to Portland’s Natural Areas edited by Michael C. Houck and M.J. Cody.