Outdoor Activities in Portland, Oregon
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Outdoors enthusiasts will find plenty of options in the Portland region. You don't have to venture far to find yourself paddling on a secluded bay, hiking a forested trail or observing native wildlife.
Consistently ranked one of America's best walking cities, Portland has dozens of hiking trails varying in difficulty, distance and elevation.
Forest Park, the nation's largest urban wilderness, features the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, where walkers can glimpse as many as 175 different species of animals. A roughly three-mile hike up Council Crest in the city's West Hills offers a great view of Portland's skyline.
The Intertwine offers details about trails around the Portland region.
Portlanders love to run, and Portland loves its parks—a formula for some great, traffic-free jogging routes.
The Oregon Road Runners Club provides more route ideas.
Portland offers one of the nation's most progressive bicycle transportation programs, boasting hundreds of miles of bikeways and bike-friendly buses and trains.
Golf Digest has rated two of Portland's courses – Eastmoreland Golf Course and Heron Lakes Golf Course – among the nation's top 75 public courses. Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, 20 miles northwest of Portland, hosted the 2003 U.S. Women's Open.
With four ski resorts and North America's longest ski season, Mount Hood's 11,235-foot peak is a mecca for skiers, ice climbers, snowboarders and hikers. The surrounding wilderness boasts spectacular trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Best of all, this adventure zone is just an hour's drive from Portland's city center.
In the city, kayakers can paddle right through downtown or explore two protected wildlife sanctuaries (Oaks Bottom and Smith and Bybee lakes). Thirty miles north of Portland, Scappoose Bay offers serene wetlands rich in cultural history and home to a variety of migratory birds, beavers, herons and eagles.
Those in search of whitewater will find two great runs within an hour's drive of Portland. Southeast of the city, the Sandy River offers stunning scenery and a variety of rapids. Further south, the Clackamas River, ranked Class III/IV+ (easy to very difficult), provides a fun ride for old hands and beginners alike
Last but not least, the breezy and scenic Columbia River Gorge is the world headquarters for windsurfing and kiteboarding. The friendly town of Hood River is ground central for these river activities. Stand-up paddling is also growing in popularity on the Columbia.
Angling for giant sturgeon, salmon and steelhead, smart fishers steer toward the mighty Columbia and other local waterways in order to catch "the one that got away."
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife provides a map of 50 places to fish within 60 minutes of Portland.
Shamrock Run – March
Considered the opening event of Portland's "running season," this 5K, 8K and 15K road race takes green-clad runners through downtown Portland.
Bridge Pedal – August
This annual bike ride across Portland's bridges cements Portland's bike-friendly status, as a total of 10 bridges partially close to cars, affording bicyclists rare views and a choice of relaxed rides ranging in distance from 14 to 36 miles (23-58 kilometers).
City of Portland Triathlon – August
This downtown triathlon was launched in 2007 with a uniquely Portland spin: committed to becoming the greenest race in the country, the event uses solar power, recycled materials, bamboo T-shirts and a "living finish line" sculpture planted with native succulents. Starting and ending at Waterfront Park, this Olympic-distance race includes a swim in the Willamette River, a bike ride that crosses several bridges, and a run along the river.
Hood to Coast Relay – August
The Hood to Coast is the world's largest running relay race, stretching 197 miles from the top of Mount Hood to the Pacific Ocean in Seaside, Ore. The overnight event culminates in the West Coast's largest beach party and draws more than 12,000 runners and 4,800 walkers annually.
Portland Marathon – October
The Portland Marathon, founded in 1972, is considered one of the best in the nation. Named "Most Walker-Friendly Marathon" by Runner's World magazine, it attracts tens of thousands of spectators and draws participants from around the world. In true Portland fashion, the marathon features 70 performers at various locations along the route — more live entertainment than any other marathon.
First Run & Walk – Dec. 31
Get your New Year off to a healthy start: The First Run & Walk kicks off at the stroke of midnight every New Year's Eve. The 5k and 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) fitness run/walk routes take participants through downtown Portland, ending with a family-friendly celebration. The run/walk is preceded by a party that starts at 10 p.m.
Audubon Society of Portland
The 4.5 miles of maintained trails in this 143-acre wildlife nature sanctuary and take visitors through a mixed coniferous forest, streams, ponds and native vegetation, all within minutes of downtown Portland. The Audubon House features an interpretive center, nature store with products for wildlife and nature viewing as well as products from local artists.
This 140-acre (56.7-hectare) wetland just east of the Willamette River in Sellwood is a birdwatchers' paradise. Many species are attracted to the marshes of Portland's first wildlife refuge, including the city's official bird, the great blue heron.
Jackson Bottom Wetland Preserve
This 650-acre wildlife preserve west of Portland in Hillsboro, Ore., features expansive wetlands and an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities. Amenities include a community center with interpretive displays and restrooms, a wheelchair-accessible wildlife-viewing platform and additional trails. Free and open from dawn to dusk.
On the outskirts of Portland, this Columbia River island is a rural oasis, where visitors can pick seasonal fruits and vegetables or sample local treats from field stands and farmers' markets. Parks, beaches and wetlands attract wildlife and nature lovers alike. Fall brings bright colors, pumpkin patches — even a corn maze to weave through.
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is a place to discover an ever-changing panorama of wildlife. As the seasons change, so do the wildlife viewing opportunities. Located on the Pacific Flyway, the Refuge is an important stopover where migrating waterfowl, songbirds, and shorebirds stop to rest, refuel, and raise their young.
The largest protected wetlands within a U.S. city, this 205-acre waterway is a haven for many animal species, and heaven for nature-seeking hikers, bikers and kayakers. Composed of two lakes (the Smith and the Bybee), this public parkland is home to beavers, black-tailed deer and even bald eagles, which can be seen from two wildlife-viewing platforms.