Portland, Oregon just might be the best city for urban hiking. With a park seemingly in every direction, from Forest Park to Mount Tabor, there are countless opportunities for a serene stroll. Here are the best places in and around the city for an urban ramble.
There are few better ways to spend a day than walking, drinking and eating your way through Portland. If you’re in need of a place to start, we’ve got you covered. Walking through any of these destinations, whether you’re visiting for the first time or are a lifelong local, will teach you something new about the Rose City.
Feeling like hiking to the peak of one of the Pacific Northwest’s famous volcanoes but don’t want to leave Portland? Centered in Portland’s east side, Mount Tabor is popularly known as a great nature park, and less commonly known as a once-active volcano. This dormant destination is a magnet for outdoors lovers in the surrounding neighborhoods and boasts brief-but-hilly trails that take you to sweeping views of the city.
Taking a walk through Southwest Portland’s International Rose Test Garden places you in the Rose City’s finest oasis of organic blush. This 4.5 acres (1.8ha) segment of Washington Park boasts award-winning rose varieties, and currently ranks as the longest-running test garden in the United States. For a glimpse at something special, the adjoining Shakespeare Garden is a must-visit, containing flora mentioned in the Bard’s most famous works, and roses named after characters from his plays.
Hawthorne Boulevard forms the border of the northern and southern halves of Portland’s east side, while also making up one of the best walks in the city for urban explorers. Specifically, the strip between 30th and 50th Avenues accommodates some of the best coffee shops, theaters, bars and boutiques around. Wanderers looking to turn a pleasant stroll into lunch, dinner, drinks and a show should not miss this destination. Hoping to keep the good times rolling? Keep walking down the numbers to 12th and you’ll find some of the city’s best grub in classic Portland fashion: two popular food cart pods.
Get (relatively) out of Portland’s urban center for a walk through Southeast Portland’s private liberal arts university. Home to some 1,500 students, the campus is both small and charming enough for anyone to enjoy a self-guided tour. Pass through historical Ivy-League-inspired architecture and a natural spring that fills up the Reed College Canyon natural area. If that’s not enough nature for you, head west to the neighboring Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Summer is the best time to visit, as a majority of students retreat for the season and much of the school’s beauty is in full bloom.
Nestled in one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhoods, Laurelhurst Park in Northeast Portland is a prime example of the nature-first architecture prevalent in a majority of parks across the city. The park’s popularity spikes during Portland’s mild springs and summers as a home for relaxed activities, featuring plenty of walking and biking trails, sports courts and a sizable dog park. Plan to add a little more time to your walk when visiting the park, as the majority of visitors come on foot or public transit due to the lack of parking.
Southeast Portland’s Lone Fir Cemetery is equal parts outdoor museum, public walkway and burial ground, providing the perfect Portland destination for history lovers. Former mayors, suffragists and even some of the city’s founders are buried among the cemetery’s 25,000 graves, along with monuments to famous residents and, in typical Portland fashion, a rose garden. Roamers through the plot’s 30 acres (12ha) should try to spot the grave marker of James C. Hawthorne, physician and founder of the Civil-War-era Oregon Hospital for the Insane, formerly located just a few blocks away.