Multnomah County stands on the lands of the Clackamas, Chinook and numerous tribes of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. As those who find peace and joy in the lands around us, it is essential that we recognize Indigenous communities and their stewardship of these ecologies since time immemorial as well as the ongoing harm that settler-colonialism perpetuates through its logic of infinite extraction.
The onset of fall is a beautiful time to be in Portland. While it is currently unsafe to venture outside, here is a simple guide to easy trails near campus so you can plan a late September weekend adventure. Included are some long-time favorites and a couple of less-frequented routes that are either in or very close to the city. Pay special attention to trails four and ve in this list, as they are accessible by foot via campus! Remember to apply through the Office of the Vice President of Student Life if you live on-campus and would like to partake in non-essential off-campus activities such as these hikes.
1. Latourell Falls Loop Hike
Our proximity to the Columbia River Gorge means we are blessed with an abundance of relatively short hikes that you can pace at your comfort. The Latourell Falls trail is my personal favorite for its division into two segments: lower and upper. Get ready to see stunning golden, dark-green cobblestone lichen hugging the old basalt formations by the falls.
Distance: 2.4 miles Elevation gain: 625 ft. Difficulty: Easy.
Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum is also called the “world of trees.” It is home to many species native to the Pacific Northwest, besides West Coast favorites such as sequoias and redwoods.
Distance: 4.7 miles Elevation gain: 425 ft. Difficulty: Easy.
3. Discovery Point Trail
This hike offers incredible views of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the world. In Crater Lake National Park, it is an out-and-back route so the distance can be modified to suit all levels.
Distance: 4.0 miles Elevation gain: 915 ft. Difficulty: Moderate.
4. Riverview Natural Area Trail #3, Southwest Portland
This trail leaves from the north edge of the Fir Acres parking lot, directly north of Fir Acres Theatre. This short walk is perfect for an afternoon mosey down to the Willamette River. Besides landing you close to the Sellwood Bridge, this is also a quicker way to get to Macadam Ave. than the Rose Garden path, also known as Southwest Trail 5, which is closed as of Sept. 10.
5. Maplecrest Ridge Trail, Southwest Portland
Maplecrest Ridge Trail is a scenic and leisurely route in Tryon Creek State Park that also features some undulation. To get to it, exit the bike path when you see the North Horse Loop sign on your right. If 0.7 miles is too short, you can extend your loop via the Big Fir Trail.
6. Forest Park, Northwest Portland
All the trails in Forest Park are beautiful. Be sure to mask up since they can get a little cozy and there is a medium-high likelihood you will be passed by a shirtless running enthusiast panting heavily. If you are new to the area and do make it to the north side, be sure to set aside at least a few moments to stare at the legendary St. John’s Bridge in awe.
7. Mt. Tabor Loop, Southeast Portland
Most of the trails, like the loop, are fairly flat. If you are looking for a bit more fun and cardio, walk to the intersection of Southeast Lincoln and Mt. Tabor Drive, then take the steep trail straight up the hill. Bring a picnic because this park has quite a few relaxing spots, perfect for a physically-distanced day out.
As you enjoy time outdoors, remember the six steps to recreating responsibly.