Getting outside and exploring nature can be good for your mental and physical health, especially with summer around the corner. The Portland metro area has nearly 150 parks, and a handful of those are accessible by public transit.
Bus #15 to NW Thurman
Portland is home to one of the largest city parks and one of the largest urban forests in the United States. Located in Northwest Portland, Forest Park covers almost 5,200 acres and boasts more than 80 miles of trails and 18 trailheads, including the 30-mile Wildwood trail—the longest forested urban trail in the U.S. The park is nearly 100% forested with giant Douglas Fir trees, Western Red Cedar trees and many others. This is a great park to seek a bit of solitude, especially because you aren’t likely to find hordes of people hiking the trails.
Bus #15 to SE Belmont & 67th
This extinct cinder cone volcano is located in Southeast Portland and offers beautiful views of the city. Mount Tabor is also surrounded by over 30 different species of trees, some reaching well over 100 feet in height. The park has several miles of paved and unpaved trails. The steepest trails are unpaved but moderately trafficked, leaving no confusion about where the path is or where the path leads. This park can be a popular hotspot on the weekend, so if you are looking for total seclusion, it’s best to visit during the weekdays or put in some headphones and check out the unpaved trails, which are always less crowded.
Bus #8 to SW Terwilliger and Sam Jackson
Just south of Portland State, Marquam Nature Park covers 200 acres of natural areas and undeveloped land. This park has many trails with various mileage—the shortest trail starts at half a mile. However, if you are an experienced hiker and looking for a challenge, many of the trails have steep sections, and the Marquam Trail itself is seven miles long and connects to a 40-mile loop. The deeper you hike into the park, the easier it is to forget you’re still actually in the city.
Bus #19 to SE Milwaukie and Mitchell
Located on the east side of the Willamette River, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a wetland that offers a stunning view of natural marshes, animal habitats and the scenic waterfront. Oaks Bottom has a two-mile trail looping around the wetlands, taking the viewer past one of the largest murals in the U.S.—a 45,000 square-foot depiction of herons taking flight. Fittingly, for the dedicated ornithologists or even casual bird-watchers, Oaks Bottom is also close to a rookerie on Ross Island, meaning 185 species of birds—including great blue herons, hawks and kestrels—are visible throughout the park. For even more outdoor enjoyment, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is connected to Oaks Amusement Park and the Springwater Corridor.