People who live in the Portland metro area are lucky in that we live within a short drive of literally hundreds beautiful escapes into nature in the form of parks, hiking trails, and recreation areas. I’ve hiked a good number of them with my family and here is a list of my favorite hikes that are both challenging and feature exceptionally beautiful vistas. All of these are within a couple hours drive of Portland, perfect for a day trip.
1. Multnomah Falls
It would be hard to get away with not putting Multnomah Falls on the list because its an iconic and well-known standard when it comes to hikes in the area. There is only one trail to the top of the waterfall and though it is short, the hike is rather steep and provides a great workout for everyone who attempts it. The classic view of the falls is taken from the base of the falls, no hike required, but everyone who lives in Portland should be able to say that they’ve climbed Multnomah falls and seen the view from the top.
2. Beacon Rock
This surprisingly underrated State Park is in Washington on the Columbia River and has an unmistakeable landmark within it: The huge “volcanic plug” of stone that is Beacon Rock itself. A trail will take you all the way to the top using almost a mile of switchbacks (this trail is not for the vertically phobic, many of the switchbacks are wooden bridges with a vertigo inspiring view between the planks of wood). All those who make it to the top are rewarded with a fantastic view that is just as expansive as the view at Crown Point, without the crowds.
3. Powell Butte
Another trail with a view is Powell Butte which falls well within the city limits of Portland itself, hidden in the middle of residential neighborhoods in the Southeast part of town. Powell Butte is a change of pace from most hiking trails because the terrain is so different from the dark, lush, evergreen rainforests we so often take for granted. Trees are sparse at this elevation and those that do thrive are very interesting. The view of Downtown Portland to the West and Washington to the North, as well as vistas in the other directions, is almost unrivaled and well worth the trouble.
4. Ramona Falls
This gem in the Columbia gorge is often overlooked because of the mass popularity of Multnomah Falls, but its beauty is no doubt the equal of the more famous falls. A rather long hike from the trailhead will take you to this large lovely water feature that feels like a cool but sunny oasis in the forest. Long hiker trails go through here for the super hikers among us, but either way take your camera and see this falls.
5. Silver Falls
A drive down to the capital of this state will get you close to this popular, scenic destination. The park has a gift shop, huge areas for picnics and an overnight camping area, but the stars of the entire grounds are, of course, the waterfalls. The long ten waterfall hike will take you in a roughly 10 mile loop and feature all ten of the waterfalls that this park has to offer. Three of the waterfalls feature a trail that goes underneath and behind the water for a unique experience. Of course if you plan to walk behind the waterfalls, you may get a little wet. Let me assure you, both the drive and the hike are well worth it to see this one-of-a-kind park that feels like a museum of waterfalls.