Portland has long attracted nature lovers with its verdant surroundings and easy access to some of the nation’s most beautiful forests, mountains, and waterfalls. But there are also plenty of spots where visitors can get a heavy dose of Oregon’s natural beauty without having to leave the city. Here are four of the best.
A short jaunt northwest of downtown Portland, expansive Forest Park is one of the largest forest reserves within the city limits, with more than 5,000 acres of dense old-growth and second-growth forest. This expansive park has long been a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running, particularly along the 30-mile-long Wildwood Trail, which connects Forest Park to neighboring Washington Park. The park also connects to some of Portland’s most popular attractions, notably the Audubon Society of Portland and the early 19th-century Pittock Mansion.
International Rose Test Garden
Portland’s official nickname is the “City of Roses,” a suitable moniker given that it’s home to the oldest continuously operating rose test garden in the country, the International Rose Test Garden. Situated on a slope in the heart of Washington Park, this elegantly manicured garden feels very much like something out of Alice in Wonderland, with its meandering paths flanked by thousands of bushes representing around 650 rose varietals. With its high elevation and uninterrupted city views, it’s also one of the best spots in town to take photos of the Portland skyline with snow-capped Mount Hood in the distance.
Portland Japanese Garden
Also in Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden has been lauded as one of the most authentic Japanese-style gardens in the West since it opened back in the 1960s. The garden consists of numerous koi ponds, stone lanterns and bridges, and a raked sand garden, as well as a traditional tea house that occasionally hosts tea ceremonies. A 2017 expansion of the garden led to a few new additions, including a section dedicated to the art of bonsai and a new walkway leading up to the entrance.
Tryon Creek State Natural Area
Situated in Southwest Portland, a few miles from downtown, Tryon Creek State Natural Area is the only state park located within Portland’s city limits. This sprawling forest spans some 658 acres, with eight miles of hiking trails (some of which also allow bicycle and equestrian access) along with a top-notch nature center offering a regular schedule of guided hikes and educational programs. The park is also home to a large variety of birds, from woodpeckers to barred owls.
In between your garden explorations, stay at a Hilton.