If you are looking for some great opportunities for trails near a major city (or IN one) and a close proximity to some major trail systems, Portland, OR, should be on your list of destinations.
Not only can you go running right near the city center easily with or without a vehicle of your own, but you are minutes away from some great routes in the hills, mountains, or along the Columbia river.
In addition to some great terrain, Portland has a lot to offer in both food and drink along with a bustling city full of great places to explore (my personal favorite is Powell’s bookstore – check it out if you are remotely interested in books!).
Ok, let’s dive in a little deeper…
Running & Trails
Hey, this is Portland, Oregon we’re talking about! There are a TON of trails that are within easy striking distance of the airport or downtown.
However, you’re here to find out what the best trails might be for your trip, right?
Well, let’s get to it. Here’s a condensed list of our top trails in the area covering a wide range of lengths, technicality, and distance from the downtown area.
- Forest Park – it’s mentioned everywhere for a reason. It’s easy to get to, has a bunch of trails, and can be combined into some longer runs. It’s not the wild mountainside but it’s close and has some great scenery which is what counts if you don’t have the transportation to make further out or are short on time.
- Hoyt Arboretum – another easy to get to park with over 10 miles of trails in nearly 200 acres of land. Some great scenery and trees near downtown.
Just so you know, there are more trails close to downtown. Just hop into a local running store or ask someone for a nearby park. For now, we’re going to head out of the city area and start looking at some more areas.
- Multnomah Falls – this area is well known for the Falls itself and worth a visit on its own. However, the trail to the top of the Falls
connects to a large number of well kept hiking trails that offer a good amount of elevation and a mixture of difficulties. Check out the elevation profile on the right for a recent run we did that started at the base of Multnomah Falls and continued up in a loop to Devil’s Rest and back down to the other side of the Falls…
- Dog Mountain – This is actually located on the Washington side of the Columbia River and around 45 minutes to an hour from Portland. This great run (or hike) boasts about 3000 feet of gain in the 3 miles to the top. Some fantastic views of the Columbia Gorge makes this a good choice for a summer or early fall trail run.
- Mt Hood – We can’t leave Mt Hood off of this list as it’s relatively nearby and…well, it’s a mountain! It’s covered in trail and parks and has a huge variety of other activities year round. Check out the link for more information about where you can find trail runs in the park areas.
This is a good short list to get you started. Just keep in mind that you have more areas to the west of Portland, specifically the beach areas up and down the coast with some more amazing adventures waiting to happen in the state forests and other parks throughout the area.
For those looking for elevation in their trail runs, you’ll probably be looking east of Portland as north and south follow the interstate (I-5) and the flatter regions of the area (Willamette Valley).
Additional Trail Resources
With all of the runnable trails in the region there are some great resources and clubs that you can link up with or at least check out online to help you get the best trail runs in during your time near Portland.
Here’s a few that you should look at before heading there:
- Oregon Trail Hikes
- Portland Trail Runners Meetup
- Portland Trail Guide Book – 60 trails within 60 minutes [Amazon Book]
Portland has it’s fair share of great reasons to visit besides trails. Although lately it’s probably best known outside of the northwest U.S. for the show “Portlandia”, it’s got a lot of other things going on!
We’ve been talking about trails and parks and it turns out that there are a lot of other parks that are also worth visiting. From the Japanese garden to the International Rose Gardens you can find a lot of different plants, scenery, and other sights at the many parks throughout the city.
And it’s not all about adults and parks either – kids can find some awesome activities at the Portland OMSI. Be sure to check the site for activities, events, and specials before you head into town.
Looking for more places to visit and activities? Check out these popular sites for even more fun in the area:
As you get out of the city there’s even more to do in the mountains (all seasons), at the coast, and everywhere in between. You can find river rafting nearby, skiing, and more.
There’s a huge number of great restaurants in Portland to choose from – we’re not going to try and list them here or this section would never end!
We have our favorites, but part of the fun is getting out and trying some new and exciting food.
In Portland you can find everything from amazing fresh seafood to Peruvian steaks and more.
Using apps like Yelp can help you find local eats that fit your style and budget, and for a great listing of some really high quality eats, check out the Eater guide for Portland.
Breweries and Wineries
This is also nearly impossible!
Portland is home to a huge number of incredible breweries and there area many fantastic wineries in the Willamette Valley and in other areas of Oregon and Washington.
Again – finding an app like Yelp, Untappd, or similar may be the best way to go so that you can find what you are looking for.
We also recommend talking to locals and asking for their recommendation for a great place to stop.
Many of the breweries or taphouses in town also serve some great food.
And yes, we have our favorites, but we’ll keep that to ourselves…for now! If you’re really curious about where we stop for some amazing beers when we visit Portland just send us an email or leave a comment.
Portland is served by a major airport located right off of one of the large freeways that runs north-south (I-205). Flights a easy to find and the airport is fairly laid back and easy to navigate.
The train system also runs through Portland, if you’re interested in going north or south (say, to Seattle), it’s easy to find a seat and get going for much cheaper than a plane ticket.
You have a wide choice of lodging – with Portland being a major city you can find anything from a shared room to upscale hotels and guest houses.
If you’re looking for something more personal or with more flexibility, you can try one of these (we recommend doing this for many reasons!):
We don’t have a personal recommendation for running shops in this area, but there are a few well known shops where you can pick up gear.
Just do a quick search for “portland oregon running store” and you’ll find several that can help you find what you need.
As always, we recommend getting your essentials before you leave town via Amazon or your preferred online (or local) shop so that you know you will be ready to go when you arrive!
Recovery or PT
There are a number of specialists in town including spas and gyms where you can set up massages, PT, etc.
If you have the opportunity to head to Portland and are at all interested in trail running you are in for a good time. We personally recommend renting or borrowing a vehicle so you can check out some of the areas slightly outside the city, but even if you are limited to the city or downtown area you’ll be able to hit the trails and enjoy the parks located in Portland.
With a ton of activities and non trail running attractions, you’ll find more than enough to keep busy and there’s a lot for non runners (family, friends, etc) to do and check out.
Questions or comments? Let us know here and we’ll get back to you.