The westside view of Tilikum crossing over the Willamette River. Courtesy of Elias Lunsford

Free and easy hikes around Portland

Get out and go!

Portland is littered with beautiful parks, bridges and open spaces. Although this may be common knowledge, it is all too easy to forget this amidst assignments, work and the roar of adult responsibilities. Here are a few places with activities that are pretty, free and force you to touch some grass—and remind you why you need to get out more. 


Tilikum Crossing

The first thing you’ll notice about Tilikum Crossing is the silence. Tilikum Crossing is a pedestrian-only bridge, save for the TriMet that runs through the middle of the two walking and biking lanes. The lack of noise pollution from heavy traffic on many of the bridges in Portland gives those who walk or bike Tilikum Crossing a serene setting with beautiful views of the South Waterfront and the Willamette River. 


In fact, it is the largest car-free bridge in the United States, in total around 1,720 feet. The walkway and bikeway are separated to ensure safety for both parties, and depending on which you choose, you can spend upwards of 40 minutes doing a loop on the bridge. I would highly recommend renting the Nike Biketown bicycles—free for students with Lyft—and timing your outing to catch a beautiful Portland sunset. You’ll get to experience the blissful ride over Tilikum Crossing, and watch the purple and pink haze settle with the stars over the city. 


Find it at Tilikum Crossing, Portland, OR 97201.


Pier Park 

Maybe it’s been a while since you played disc golf—also known as frisbee golf—maybe you’ve never done it or maybe you went yesterday. No matter your experience with this exciting sport, I can guarantee it will be a great time if you visit the Pier Park disc golf course. 


Located in Northeast Portland, right across the St. John’s Bridge, lies this free, 18-hole course designed to walk players through gorgeous redwood trees around the park. The dense tree cover makes this sport shady on a sunny day and covered on a rainy day, although you should put on some shoes so you don’t mind getting muddy. 


As a newbie to this sport, I found disc golfing at Pier Park to be a great time. Throwing discs into trees, bushes and anywhere-but-the-goal gave me plenty of laughs. It’s a great way to socialize with friends over something fun, harmless and outside. 


Find it at 9100 N Bruce Ave, Portland, OR 97203.

Redwood trees and brush that make up a majority of the disc golf course. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard
The bridge pictured extends from the edge of the pier park course to a greater area of greenspace. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard

Mt. Tabor 

Looking for a short, beautiful hike over an extinct volcano in southeast Portland? Head over to Mt. Tabor Park and its recreation area. A staircase is front and center at the entrance of the park, and after bounding up several flights of moss-covered steps, there are many possibilities for hiking. 


The reservoir is a little over a mile away from the top of the steps, and the trees surrounding the water create a wonderful reflection that is fun to walk a loop around. Mt. Tabor has many intricate trails, and once you begin your hike, it is really a choose-your-own-adventure from there. 


Picnic tables are also available for a lunch break, and longboarders can be spotted along the paved pathway sections of the park. If you get hungry after your Mt. Tabor adventures, Nana’s Guilty Pleasures cafe has delicious sandwiches and cinnamon rolls I would highly recommend. 


Find it at SE 60th Ave & SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97215.

Entry stairway of Mt. Tabor that leads to all other trails and destinations in the park. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard
Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard
Reservoir view located within Mt. Tabor. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard
A walkway adjacent to the grand stairs that lead up the entrance of Mt. Tabor. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard

Rocky Butte


My favorite part of Rocky Butte has to be the name—and the view, of course. This skyline view overlooking the Columbia River and the Oregon-Washington border is fantastic for a sunny or overcast day. There are a plethora of trails and cute neighborhood streets to walk, jog or cycle around. Traversing up and down the hillside is a workout with a remarkable view. 


On your drive up to the parking lot, you will encounter a daunting tunnel on the windy, hilly drive to the location. Take your friends and take some awesome skyline view pictures!


Find it at 3102 NE Rocky Butte Rd, Portland, OR 97220.

View of the walkway that extends in a circle around the peak of the Boring Lava Field Rocky Butte is located on top of. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard
View of the Oregon Washington border from the Rocky Butte summit. Zoe Edelman/PSU Vanguard Zoe Edelman/Portland State Vanguard