Urban Hiking: Portland’s Washington Park

Hiking Friday, August 16, 2013 Written by

Whether you’re looking for a long, peaceful run or a short hike through the trees, Washington Park has got you covered. Located just a few miles south of downtown Portland, this nature-lover’s mecca is home to the Oregon Zoo, the Japanese Garden, the Children’s Museum, and more than 400 acres of trees, gardens, trails and other outdoor attractions. Visit on a clear day, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Hood from one of the park’s many trails.

The Washington Park Workout

For an easy, 3.6-mile loop, start hiking at the beginning of Wildwood Trail, about 100 yards up from the Washington Park MAX light rail station, in between the Oregon Zoo and the World Forestry Center. Follow the Wildwood Trail signs, which will take you through the woods, past a big blue water tower with amazing mountain views (0.4 miles in), and beyond the Japanese Gardens (1.7 miles in), until you reach the Hoyt Arboretum. You’ll then walk over a footbridge, where you should turn left onto Creek Trail. To complete your loop, cross a paved road, turn left onto Hemlock Trail, and follow that path back to Wildwood. Eventually you’ll end up at the Vietnam Memorial, near where you began.

If you want to cover more ground, stay on Wildwood Trail, which meanders its way 30-plus miles through Washington and Forest Park, and tackle one of these routes instead:

Pittock Mansion (7 miles total)

Continue on Wildwood Trail, cross busy Burnside Street, and walk uphill for about 1 mile until you reach the architecturally impressive Pittock Mansion where you’ll be greeted with gorgeous city views. Follow the same trail down as you would for the short loop (Wildwood Trail to the Hoyt Arboretum footbridge, turn right onto Creek Trail, left onto Hemlock Trail, and follow it back to Wildwood, ending at the Vietnam Memorial).

Upper Macleay (10 miles total)

Continue on Wildwood Trail, past Pittock Mansion, and turn left onto Upper Macleay Trail in about 1 mile. Stay on Upper Macleay for a mile, until it connects back up with Wildwood, and take a right onto Wildwood. Run or walk back on Wildwood until you return to the zoo and Vietnam Memorial area, taking the same turns we mention above.

If you want to explore these trails even further, check out the Forest Park Trail Map. Have fun venturing new grounds and creating your own favorite park loops.

If you’ve got your family in tow and are looking for some post-hiking entertainment, be sure to check out the zoo, the Japanese Gardens, or the Children’s Museum while you’re up there.