Forest Park Hikes – Most Beautiful Hikes Through the Woods!

Forest Park is located in the West of Downtown, Portland. Being the largest urban forest reserve in the country, this public park is spread over around 1300 acres of land. The Park is famous for its adventurous hiking and biking trails which attract tourists from all around the world. This Park stretches along the northeast face of the Tualatin Mountains for almost eight miles, overlooking the Willamette River. Forest Park offers 41 moderate trails with lengths ranging from 2 to 13.5 miles and elevations ranging from 55 to 1,082 feet.

There are over 100 species of birds and 50 species of mammals, as well as 400 kinds of invertebrates in the canopy and in the creeks of the forest. Three streams with native (non-migratory) trout are also found in the park: Balch Creek, Saltzman Creek, and Miller Creek. Only in Miller Creek have salmonids been recorded within Forest Park, showing that there are fish passageways into the Willamette River.

Is Forest Park, Portland Safe?

As far as the safety of Forest Park is concerned, it is not considered very safe being a Forest. The crimes are often reported within the drearier areas of the park. Compared to communities of all sizes, from the smallest villages to the biggest cities, Forest Park has one of the highest crime rates in the nation with a crime rate of 46 per thousand residents.

In the area of Forest Park, one in every 22 people is at risk of becoming a victim of a violent crime or a property crime. Two murders were also reported within the vicinity of Forest Park.

Best Forest Park Hikes – Amazing Hiking Trails

Best Forest Park Hikes – Amazing Hiking Trails

Forest Park, Portland is very popular for its adventurous hiking trails and plenty of spots to explore. With more than its 80 miles of hiking trails, Forest Park offers its visitors a closer look into the splendid beauty of nature.

In this very article, we’re going to guide you through the amazing hiking trails in Forest Park, Portland.

  1. Lower Maple Trial Loop
  2. Maple Trail
  3. Ridge Trail
  4. Nature and Chestnut Trail Loop
  5. Fire Lane 7
  6. Fire Lane 9 Loop
  7. Fire Lane 12
  8. Audubon Sanctuary
  9. Tolinda Trail to Waterline
  10. Wildwood-Newton Loop
  11. Newton Road to Wildwood Trail
  12. Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion
  13. Wildwood Trail. Miles 12 – 16
  14. Wildwood Trail from Newberry Road
  15. Dogwood Trail

1. Lower Maple Trial Loop

Lower Maple Trail Loop is about 3 miles long hiking trail. It just keeps getting better and better as you travel along the shade-draped lower Maple Trail on the stunning three-mile circuit. No view compares with the vantage point from the intersection of Leif Erikson and Saltzman Road, which offers a spectacular view of Mount St. Helens and the St. Johns Bridge.

2. Maple Trail

Forest Park Hikes - Maple Trail

This section of the trail runs between lower Saltzman Road and the Wildwood Trail, traversing wooded canyons dotted with firs and hemlocks and crossing the shimmering waters of Saltzman Creek. It rains crimson-and-gold leaves here in the fall under the canopy of bigleaf maple trees. However, you can also hike along the Maple Trail during summer.

3. Ridge Trail

Through the famous Ridge Trail in the Forest Park, you’ll reach at the bottom to the view of Portland’s one of the most photogenic and impressive bridges. This hiking trail is pretty narrow in its width and is about 1000 feet down from the famous Firelane 7. This trail is pretty quiet with lots and lots of maples and ninebark limbs which add more beauty to the views of St. Johns Bridge over the Willamette.

During your hike, you can stop at a log-carved bench just past Leif Erikson, and from there, you can exit the woods above Highway 30.

4. Nature and Chestnut Trail Loop

The Nature and Chestnut Trails are considered to be the two most scenic trails along Forest Park. Nature Trail goes through narrow, shady canyons traversed by a cascading tributary of Rocking Chair Creek. The trail passes mini-waterfalls and maidenhair ferns on the way to a dam built beneath an American chestnut tree and a picnic table at the bottom of a gully. A few yards beyond the tree, the Chestnut Trail continues to climb back into seclusion alongside another tributary of Rocking Chair Creek.

5. Fire Lane 7

Forest Park Firelane 7 Hike

Within Forest Park, there are several fire lanes that run down the slope of Tualatin Hills, from east to west. These fire lanes are in the central areas of Forest Park, towards the North of it. The Fire Lane 7 is one of these lanes and is used as a hiking and running track, along with being a trail for nature trips. The Wildwood Trail loop uses this Fire Lane 7 track on the way down the slope.

6. Fire Lane 9 Loop

Fire lane 9 is quite a small trail but would be pretty hard to cover. Halfway through the Fire Lane 9 loop, the zigzag tracks of fire lane 10 begin and continue further with the sights of white oaks, purple-hued pacific yew, and many other trees and plant species.

7. Fire Lane 12

There are 4.3 kilometers of moderately trafficked loop trails in Northwest Fire Lane 12 and 13 Loop, mostly used for hiking and bird watching. There are steep hillsides all along Fire Lane 12. In an abrupt descent, the trail meets Fire Lane 15 after climbing 1 mile. One of the two trout-bearing streams in the park can be found here, Miller Creek.

8. Audubon Sanctuary

Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

There are often a lot of people hiking on the Audubon Sanctuary, which has a 6.9-kilometer trail. Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center is where injured creatures are brought in by the public and are taken care of by Audubon. It is located at the end of the Pittock Bird Sanctuary trail, down stone steps. A variety of birds have been spotted here, including warblers, grosbeaks, and sparrows. Volunteers from Audubon often take injured raptors out on this trail, including hawks and owls.

9. Tolinda Trail to Waterline

In this park sits the former ‘Camp Fire Girls’ camp named Tolinda Trail, a challenging hike that takes place about a mile from the trailhead.  This route reaches Leif Erikson in less than a mile. Fireweed, lilies, and a welcome shot of solitude will help you soothe the pain of first-degree thigh burns. As you ascend along a ridge to a water tower in a sun-soaked meadow atop Skyline Boulevard, you will receive a merit badge for pluck by ascending the steep Waterline Trail.

10. Wildwood-Newton Loop

This picturesque loop tucks deep into the park’s northern interior, where trees thrive in dewy, humid conditions. On the Wildwood near the 26-mile mark, there’s a hollowed-out fir large enough to fit pint-sized nature lovers inside. Do not skip to check out the mushroom-covered stump nearby. The roots of the fir rise like stilts from the dirt, creating a tunnel under which squirrels can maneuver. It is kind of a giant squid with tentacles, covering a maple tree that will make your heart race.

Forest Park - Wildwood-Newton Loop

11. Newton Road to Wildwood Trail

Start at the Newton Road trailhead and hike the next 4 1/2 miles of the Wildwood Trail. Aside from the conifers, you will come across a lot of alder and maple trees. However, wet weather can make the trail slippery and muddy. In this area, Wildwood meanders between small gullies on a fairly flat contour. You pass through a thicket of snowberry and salmonberry and then arrive at the Newton Road Trailhead. Passing through large Douglas-fir trees, the Wildwood follows Newton Road again before dropping steeply. After reaching Newton Road, a second loop begins.

12. Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion

With a picturesque creek, an old-growth forest with tall Douglas-firs, and a Victorian-era mansion with expansive views of downtown Portland and Mount Hood, this easy hike in Macleay Park offers a perfect combination of scenic views and easy accessibility. A 2.5-mile hike to Pittock Mansion, an iconic Portland residence, gains 800 feet of elevation during this lung-pumping adventure. The Upper Macleay and Macleay trails make an excellent loop on the north slope of Pittock Hill. There are two access points to the Tunnel Trail, both located off Cornell Road, which offer a shorter trail option without Balch Creek.

13. Wildwood Trail. Miles 12 – 16

Forest Park - Wildwood Trail. Miles 12 – 16

There are 26 miles of Wildwood Trail and not all of them require difficulty. In this section of the Wildwood Trail, you can find titanic trees and a distance from civilized areas. When you pass through Fire Lane 3, between mile points 13.5 and 12.5, that’s where you can admire several wonderful sequoia-sized trees. Moving further, Mount Hood and Mount Adams will be visible every few minutes at mile 15.75. Continuing northwest, you’ll encounter fern-covered ridges covered in a dense and beautiful grove of young conifers at mile 16.

14. Wildwood Trail from Newberry Road

The Wildwood is mostly in Forest Park, but also in Hoyt Arboretum and Washington Park; the South of Forest Park, covering a distance of nearly 30 miles. There is no particular season for hiking wildwood; it will depend on the tread and what day of the week you plan to hike. Mud patches will slow you down throughout the wet season. Sand, dry conditions and plenty of water are all things that leave you dusty in summer. During the weekdays and early in the morning, the trail will be less busy, but it is much loved by the residents of Portland as well as tourists.

15. Dogwood Trail

Dogwood Trail - Forest Park

You will cross the 900-foot-high point of the loop on the Dogwood Trail, which crosses the crown of a round hill. A forest of maples, alders, and Douglas firs surrounds you as you journey downhill. It descends from ridge to ridge. The views of Northwest Portland are best when the deciduous trees are bare. To the east, Mount Hood is visible.

In the quarter-mile after you’ve entered an area of dense forest on Dogwood Trail, it becomes more difficult to see the views. The Dogwood Trail descends 200 feet in 0.35 miles as it weaves down the ridge, getting a little steeper as it descends the ridge.

Forest Park Portland – The Entrance

There is a pathway to Forest Park from the Washington Park MAX station, which offers endless loop options with shorter paths so that you do not have to commit to the entire distance. Also, it is possible to reach the park from nearby neighborhoods as well; Northwest Thurman Street has an entrance leading to Leif Erikson Drive, a popular route for exploring the wooded hills of the park.

Conclusion

Forest Park, Portland is a place worth visiting! Its beautiful hiking trails, wildlife, greenery, and different species of plants would make you have a deeper insight into the spectacular beauties of nature. If you ever plan a trip to Forest Park, do not miss out on the beautiful views from different hiking trails.

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