With the university finally coming out of its winter shell, students will be looking to get out and experience the wildlife in the Portland area. Portland is one of the best cities in the country for hiking and camping, hosting a large amount of trails that start in and around the city, as well as sitting near two huge national forests and a large number of state parks.
The Portland State outdoor program is getting into the swing of the busy season. Their slate of spring events is kicking off on Earth Day with a beach cleanup, followed by a dog mountain day hike the next day. The outdoor program offers resources for people who are new to camping and hiking, including advice and equipment. They regularly have gear such as tents and sleeping bags in the $10 range for up to four days of use.
“Basically, you can come in and ask us about what sort of gear you need,” Dustin Abbott, an assistant trip leader, said. “And then, depending on your skill level, we can help you pick a trail or pick a site.”
The trail keepers of Oregon have assembled a great field guide on local hikes at portlandhikers.org. There you can search hikes by difficulty, sights and locations. The Council Crest Hike, Marquam Trail and Pittock Mansion hike all start in southwest Portland.
Looking to get more out of your hiking experience? Mushroom picking is a great diversion to spice up your hikes. The rains always bring a rich bounty of mushrooms to the northwest, and you can find a huge diversity of edible mushrooms on trails and paths around the city. All that the Rain Promises and More by David Arora is a handy little pocket-sized field guide, which has large, color photos to help you identify the different types of mushrooms by sight.
The closest campground to Portland is Milo McIver State Park. Located about 25 miles away by highway, Milo McIver offers showers, restrooms and places to park your tent or trailer. Milo McIver just re-opened to the public on March 9.
For an experience further out, the Mount Hood National Forest, which sits about 62 miles out from the city, offers a bigger range and diversity of wilderness for hikers and campers.
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington also has many excellent camping locations and hikes for those willing to branch out a little. Nearly linked to Mt. Hood National Forest along the Columbia, Gifford Pinchot has similarly stunning views and great, vigorous hikes through tree-carpeted hills, valleys and ice melt–fed streams. These places can get pretty busy in the spring, but natural isolation can still be found if you go far enough in. For the rugged nature seeker, ideal camping locations start when bullet holes outnumber letters on road signs.
More information and advice on local hikes and camping can be found at the campus outdoor program located at 505 SW Harrison, in the opposite corner of the building as the Campus Rec welcome desk.