Updated March 19, 2019
No matter how far you venture into Portland’s massive Forest Park, you’re bound to have a great time and burn a few calories in the process. Forest Park’s expansive mix of trees, trails and wildlife can make a day in this Portland park feel like a jungle adventure.
With all its entrances, paths, and possibilities, the park can be overwhelming for a lot of people. So, to make it easier for you to get out there and enjoy all that the park has to offer, we’ve broken down a day at this activity oasis into three easy categories:
Lower Macleay Park is one of the busier parts of Forest Park, but for good reason: it’s one of the most accessible trailheads for those looking to get in and experience the park.
If you’re looking for something light, or you have little ones in tow, start with the two-mile loop. Your heart will get pumping with a brisk walk up the short inclines at the start. But, once you hit the Wildwood trail, the scenery will make you forget you’re burning calories. At 30.2 miles long, it’s one of the longest trails in Portland and part of the region’s 40-Mile Loop.
For a bigger challenge, look for signs to the 5-mile trek that starts from the Macleay parking lot.
While it’s fairly short at two miles roundtrip, tackling the uphill double-track path of Firelane #13 pays off with a great vista of the Willamette River – a payoff you don’t get from many of the winding trails in Forest Park. It’s some of the best that Portland hiking has to offer.
You’ll enter on BPA Road, just off of Skyline on the northwest side of Forest Park, and hike straight through until you hit the end. A picnic table at the top is the ideal spot to refuel with a healthy snack while you enjoy what is arguably the best view in Forest Park.
Looking for more thrills in your Forest Park experience? Mountain biking down one of the park’s authorized fire lanes is a fun, exhilarating way to test your legs and cardio.
For more experienced trail riders, Firelane #3 is a quick but exciting ride from Skyline Boulevard into the heart of Forest Park. Chances are that unless you’re a thrillseeker, you’ll spend a lot of time gripping your brakes, as this ride can really pick up and has very little uphill climbing. You’ll come out on Leif Erikson Drive, which will be a lighter (though still heavily trafficked) ride through the rest of the park.
For those who want even more intensity, try Firelane #5. The trail isn’t quite as fast as #3, but you’ll run into some steep climbs and hairpin turns that’ll really work your muscles (and likely test your nerves).