Editors note: Due to wildfires in the Columbia River Gorge, Interstate 84 is closed from Troutdale (milepost 17) to Hood River (milepost 62) through at least Sept. 17. Alternate routes to access the gorge include taking U.S. 26 East, followed by Route 35 North toward Hood River. A second option is to take Interstate-5 North toward Seattle, followed by Route 14 East, over the Hood River Bridge and onto Route 35 South.
True Portland adventurers explore the great outdoors all year round, but there’s something extra-special about the first spring hike of the year. Enjoy gorgeous wildflowers, stellar bird watching and breathtaking scenery on these springtime rambles.
To challenge your legs with steep elevation gain on big switchbacks, try the Dogwood Trail in Forest Park, Portland’s own urban wilderness. This popular hiking route is also a hit with trail runners. It’s a 2-mile (3.2 km) jaunt to the end and back, or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, link up with the Leif Erikson and Wild Cherry Trails for the 8-mile (13 km) Wild Cherry Loop. Access the trailhead from NW 53rd Drive off Cornell Road. 5 miles (8 km) from downtown Portland.
Oak Island (really a peninsula, don’t be fooled) on Sauvie Island is the perfect place to get your ornithology on. Opening May 1, the Oak Island Trail takes you on a 2.5-mile (4 km) loop through the heart of the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area. Keen eyes will find over 250 species of birds waiting to be discovered, including raptors, woodpeckers and migrating songbirds. 19 miles (30 km) northwest of downtown Portland.
Wildwood Recreation Area
If you crave a hike on the wild side, then the Wildwood Recreation Area is the place to be. Located along the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, this 550-acre (223 hectare) site is a fantastic place to take in the majesty of Oregon’s tallest peak, as well as a starting point for a variety of beautiful hikes. Beginners can observe the scenic Salmon River along the 0.75-mile (1.2 km) Cascade Streamwatch Trail, while advanced hikers can take on the steep 4.7-mile (7.6 km) climb up the Boulder Ridge Trail into the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. 43 miles (69 km) southeast of downtown Portland.
Catherine Creek in the Columbia Gorge offers a variety of hikes ideal for springtime. Visitors to the Catherine Creek Universal Access Trail will find breathtaking views of the Columbia River and Mount Hood, but the real treasures here are the wildflowers. Over 90 species of blossoms decorate the rich landscape of rock outcroppings, grasslands and oak forests. Choose between an easy 0.25-mile (0.4 km) stroll to a scenic overlook and a moderately difficult 1.25-mile (2 km) loop to take in more sights. 72 miles (115 km) east of downtown Portland.
If you haven’t had your fill of flowers at Catherine Creek, visit Lacamas Park to take in the fields of blooming camas. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced outdoor adventurer, Lacamas Lake Park has a hike that’s right for you. The park is home to a diverse network of multipurpose trails for hiking and cycling. The Washougal River Greenway Trail is a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) boardwalk-lined trail that passes through 125 acres (51 hectares) of scenery and crosses the Washougal on a 37-foot-tall (11 m) footbridge. For a more challenging hike, try the Lacamas Heritage Trail, a 3.5-mile (5.6 m) gravel trail that showcases rock formations and seasonal waterfalls. The neighboring Heritage Park provides the perfect spot for a post-hike picnic. 23 miles (37 km) northeast of downtown Portland.