Editor's Note: Be sure to check the Forest Park Conservancy website for updates, as trail conditions are ever-changing. Happy hiking!
Easy/see map T2/Hike #1
This wide-open, gently rolling double-track path leads to a grassy knoll with sweeping vistas of Mounts St. Helens and Rainier. At your feet, tugboats chug up the Willamette River. So named because the Bonneville Power Administration maintains a string of power lines here, BPA Road also visits a bronze-and-rock monument dedicated to donors who plugged the “Hole in the Park” by snatching a 70-acre plot from the jaws of developers through a cooperative effort of Metro, Friends of Forest Park, and the parks bureau during the 1990s. Toast their collective wisdom from a pair of picnic tables placed at the overlook.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: From NW Skyline Blvd, take BPA Road to Firelane 13. (Round trip: 2 miles)
Lower Maple Trail loop
Moderate/see map L7/Hike #2
Tranquil canyons? Check. Gurgling water? Check. Oversize fallen log to kick back on? Check. Handy shortcut? Check. (The recently signed Quarry Trail creates a great loop from the lower Maple Trail.) The reasons to love this splendid three-mile circuit along the shade-draped lower Maple Trail just keep piling up. None is better than the junction atop Saltzman Road and Leif Erikson, which affords an eagle-eye overlook of the St. Johns Bridge and Mount St. Helens.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: From Saltzman Road off of Hwy 30, turn right on Maple Trail, left up Quarry Trail, and then right on Leif Erikson. Return via Maple Trail. (Round trip: 3 miles)
Moderate/see map O3/Hike #3
Savor an unforgettable glimpse of one of Portland’s most photogenic bridges at the bottom of the Ridge Trail. The narrow path drops nearly 1,000 vertical feet from Firelane 7, near Skyline Boulevard, amid the quiet, seldom-visited northeast section of the park. Just past Leif Erikson, pause to rest on a rough-hewn bench carved from a log, then exit the woods above Highway 30. Here maple and ninebark limbs frame a close-up portrait of the sea-green arches of the St. Johns Bridge towering over the Willamette.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: From NW Springville Road off of Skyline Blvd, follow Firelane 7 and turn left down the Ridge Trail. Return the same way. ?(Round trip: 2.76 miles)
Nature and Chestnut Trail Loop
Moderate/see map I5/Hike #15
Beat the heat—and the crowds—by slipping into two of Forest Park’s most scenic side trails. The lower half of the Nature Trail plunges into a narrow, shady canyon intersected by a cascading fork of Rocking Chair Creek. Brush past mini-waterfalls and velvety maidenhair ferns on the way to the base of the gully, where a small dam was constructed and a picnic table rests beneath a rare American chestnut tree. A few yards to the right of the tree, the Chestnut Trail climbs back into seclusion alongside a second cooling fork of Rocking Chair Creek.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: From Forest Lane off of NW 53rd Drive, take Firelane 1. Go left down Nature Trail to Leif Erikson. Turn up Chestnut Trail. Go left on Wildwood Trail to return to Firelane 1. (Round trip: 2.5 miles)
Moderate/see map U7/Hike #16
Stashed away on a dead-end lane in hilly Linnton, the entrance to Firelane 12 winds through what feels like a private empire of steep hillsides lined with slabs of basalt, oodles of ferns, white-barked ?alders, and mighty stands of firs. After a mile-long climb, the trail dips down to converge with Firelane 15. Here you’ll encounter Miller Creek, one of the park’s two trout-bearing streams. Continue up Firelane 12 to meet BPA Road, or linger streamside to watch the brook disappear into a green abyss of roots, leaves, and moss.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: From NW Creston Road in Linnton, ascend Firelane 12 to BPA Road. Return the same way. (Round trip: 3 miles)
Moderate/see map L7/Hike #22
Little-known fact: Nearly three-quarters of the forest of Forest Park is bigleaf maples and red alders—not Douglas firs. Nowhere is this deciduous umbrella more delightful than along the aptly named Maple Trail. In fall, groves of bigleaf maples here rain down piles of crimson-and-gold leaves. But the Maple Trail hikes well in the dog days of summer, too. The 2.6-mile section between lower Saltzman Road and the Wildwood Trail bisects densely wooded canyons peppered with hemlocks and firs, and fords the shimmery waters of Saltzman Creek.
SUGGESTED ROUTE: From Saltzman Road off of Hwy 30, turn left up Maple Trail. Pass Maple Tie Trail and turn right on Wildwood Trail. Descend Koenig Trail and return via Maple Trail. (Round trip: 6 miles)