Beautiful hikes for the indecisive

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The Lower South Falls at Silver Falls State Park. Courtesy of Greg Willis through Creative Commons via Flickr

With mountains, rivers and the ocean all within driving distance of Portland, outdoor activities are limitless in their diversity. Hiking, one of these options, allows for views of some of the most beautiful sites in Oregon. But with so much beauty across the landscape, it can be difficult to pick out exactly which hike to go on. For the indecisive, here’s a list of the better hiking spots in Portland and the surrounding area.

The Gorge

Let’s start out with the obvious: You can’t go wrong hiking in the Gorge. With a number of different hikes that all offer different difficulty levels and views, the Gorge has a hike fit for anyone. Waterfalls aren’t hard to find, and views of the surrounding areas are some of the best Portland-area hikes have to offer.

About half an hour away from campus, hiking in the Gorge is perfect for a day trip. The more well known hikes will be covered in people, while the lesser known can offer more peaceful experiences. Either way, no hike in the Gorge will disappoint aesthetically. The main hikes at the Gorge are Angel’s Rest, Eagle Creek and Horsetail Falls.

Silver Falls

A little bit farther away, Silver Falls has miles of trails within its 9,200-acre state park. The largest state park in Oregon, Silver Falls has multiple waterfalls that hikers are allowed to walk underneath. Completing the full hike leaves you viewing 10 different waterfalls. Dress appropriately, as there’s a fair chance you’ll want to get wet on this hike.

Silver Falls is a little out of the Portland area, but still accessible for a day trip. Located outside of Salem, you’ll have to drive over an hour and a half off-campus to see these waterfalls. But with accessible trails, a day-use area and plenty of opportunities to hike, the long drive won’t be for nothing.

Washington Park

A little closer than some of the other hikes on this list, Washington Park offers Portlanders an accessible location right outside of the city. This hike embodies one of the best aspects of Portland, which is how quickly one can get from being within the city to being completely detached from it. Also including a number of different trails, Washington Park hosts sites like Pittock Mansion and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Located behind the zoo, Washington Park is only a 10-minute drive from campus or just a quick MAX ride away. Hiking in the area can be as long or short as wanted. The hike to Pittock Mansion is on the longer side, but is still only a five-mile round trip. If you don’t have access to a car (or someone with a car), Washington Park has views just as stunning as the hikes that involve longer commutes.

Portland has a number of different opportunities for hikers. Whether they’re short or long, far or close, beautiful or downright gorgeous, the act of hiking is one that this area is well-known for. And there’s only one way to take advantage of that, by going out and perpetuating the idea that Oregon is beautiful. It’s impossible to be disappointed—unless it rains, I guess. Even then, the post-rain views of this gorgeous region are a sight all their own and worth seeing.

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