Our Favorite Hikes & Backpacking Trips Near Portland, Oregon

Mountain trail with a sunset over Mount Hood, near Portland Oregon, on the horizon
Our Favorite Hikes Within Two Hours of Portland (Above: Silver Star Mountain)

Flanked by volcanic peaks, deep gorges, and old-growth forests, Portland, Oregon is home to many of the best hikes near any major American city. Whether visiting the Pacific Northwest for the first time or exploring as a long-time resident, these trails need to be on your list whenever pass through The Rose City.

Searching for a quick day hike within walking distance of the city or want to escape for an all-day adventure within an hour and a half drive from the city? Between Mount Hood, Tillamook Forest, the Columbia River Gorge, and other popular destinations, Portland has excellent adventures for hikers and backpackers of all levels.

To make life easier, I’ll cover each hike’s essential info like distance and elevation gain, a quick overview of what to expect, and a difficulty rating. Some trails may need a permit, so read our guide thoroughly to ensure you’re good to go before heading out.

We’re exploring a wide range of ecosystems to cover all the best hikes near Portland, Oregon. The perfect hike isn’t universal, but everyone will find something to enjoy on this list. And be sure to stick around until the end for a few bonus backpacking trip ideas.

Hikes Within Portland

If you’re rolling out of bed late on the weekend, but still craving a little adventure, you’ve got options. Luckily, well within the city limits of Portland, there are many trails that you can drive, or even walk, to.

Mt. Tabor Park (Blue Loop)

View of a reservoir and the Portland skyline from the Mt. Tabor Park Blue Loop hike
Mt. Tabor Park

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Home to many of Portland’s historic water reservoirs, hiking Mt. Tabor offers the rare opportunity to stand on top of an extinct volcano. A maze of trails covers the park, but the Blue Loop is officially marked and presents the perfect tour for historic sights and views of the city.

From the north side kiosk, you’ll get a chance to loop around three historic reservoirs and stomp atop a volcanic cinder cone. Short and sweet, the hike is accessible to most hikers. Remember: you’re technically climbing a volcano, so be ready for a few steep sections.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 225 feet
Difficulty: Easy

If you hike through the woods to get lost in a dreamlike trance, the web of trails at Tryon Creek provides the perfect place to stumble. And worry not, you’ll never be too far from your car even if you get confused by the myriad of intersections.

Most trails here tend to traverse gentle rolling hills that take you over ridges and down to various creeks in the park. Tryon Creek is great for families and anyone seeking relaxation over exertion.

For an easy beginner’s loop that gives you a taste of the park, take the Old Man trail to the Middle Creek trail, and return via the North Horse loop trail.

Grab a trail map at the visitor’s center to help keep you oriented.

North Forest Park (Wildwood + Springville + Leif Erickson)

Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

The crown jewel of Portland’s trail system is undoubtedly Forest Park, which offers endless options for exploration. Leif Erickson, a pedestrian-only dirt road, and Wildwood trail, the 30-mile-long main artery of the park, are the primary building blocks for a day of adventuring.

The southern start of Wildwood gives you access to the Portland Zoo, Japanese and Rose Gardens, and the Hoyt Arboretum, making the area perfect if you want to incorporate other activities. For solitude, head to the northern Leif Erickson trailhead found off Germantown Road.

A quick jaunt up the Cannon Trail Connector will get you cruising down Wildwood. Continue until Springville Road, which will drop you down to the return on Leif Erickson. The eastern-facing slopes of Forest Park are well-shaded and keep you nice and cool in the summer heat.

If you’re venturing out during the rainy season, be prepared for some mud, as the trails tend to get a bit sloppy. Though open year-round, the elevation of Forest Park can make for treacherous icy conditions if you’re exploring during a cold snap.

Hikes Near the Columbia River Gorge

Carved by glacial forces, the Columbia River Gorge is famous for explorers as far back as the iconic Lewis & Clark expedition. The steep walls provide fantastic views, but they’ll make you work for your lunch. As many locals say: The Gorge has teeth!

Angel’s Rest

Rock-filled mountain trail overlooking the Columbia River Gorge on an overcast day
Angel’s Rest

Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

One of the closest Gorge hikes to Portland, Angel’s Rest is an iconic hike of the region. While the climb to the top takes a significant effort, views from the ridgeline provide immaculate sightlines both east and west of the Columbia River. Sunsets here are spectacular.

Despite climbing 1,500 feet, the switchbacks are well-graded, allowing all skill levels to make it to the top for the sweet views of the Gorge. A small waterfall partway up provides a nice break, and the top ridge has steep drops, so keep an eye on reckless pets and wandering children.

Punch Bowl Falls with Tunnel Falls Extension Option

Distance: 3.8 miles or 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 feet or 1,600 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Love waterfalls? The short route option provides an excellent overlook of the appropriately named Punch Bowl Falls. During the hot summer months, the pool at the bottom of the waterfall provides a refreshing spot to dip in.

For an all-day adventure, consider extending the hike out all the way up to Tunnel Falls. The steep ravine walls surrounding you will act as a hypnotic companion during the long trek up. Near the end of the trail, you’ll be able to sneak through the naturally formed tunnel tucked behind the waterfall.

Most Gorge hikes are steep, however, both options on this trail provide some of the gentlest inclines you will find in the area. If you want more hiking and less climbing, these hikes are made for you. A few sections have steep drop-offs but have chain handrails you can hold.

Dog Mountain Loop

Distance: 6.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Speaking of steep, Dog Mountain will eat your legs up if you’re not prepared. Though one of the hardest hikes on this list, it’s well worth the effort during wildflower season as the summit ridge explodes with the vibrant yellow of the blooming balsamroot. The views from 3,000 feet up are equally rewarding.

I highly recommend looping the Dog Mountain and Augspurger trails. Take Augspurger Trail up if you want a gentler climb, or earn your dinner on the relentless switchbacks of the Dog Mountain Trail. Packing lunch and water for the top is a must for this hike.

For peak wildflowers, you’ll generally want to go in late spring or early summer. On weekends from April 29 to June 19, you’ll need to snag an extra permit due to this hike’s extreme popularity. If you drive out via Cascade Locks, be prepared to pay the $2 bridge toll.

Hamilton Mountain

Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Permit: Discover Pass

Hamilton Mountain is another steep climb, and while the official peak has limited views, the loop still has worthwhile features on both the ascent and descent. Midway up the Rodney Falls hike, the Pool of the Winds forms. Just below the peak, the saddle has rare southern-facing Gorge views.

After climbing up the Hamilton Mountain Trail and dropping to the saddle, Don’s Cutoff will lead you right to the Upper Hardesty Creek Trail, which leads back to Rodney Falls and the descent to the trailhead. Like Dog Mountain, you’ll want to bring food and water to help power through to the top.

Hikes Near Mount Hood

The arrival of summer means it’s time to head to Mount Hood to take advantage of the limited window to access the best trails near Portland. Nothing beats the variety of alpine meadows, roaring glacial rivers, and summer wildflowers you’ll find here.

Ramona Falls

Mossy waterfall near Mount Hood Wilderness in Oregon
Ramona Falls

Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

One of the most hiked loops on Mount Hood, Ramona Falls, comes crashing down on mossy rocks in a forested, magical part of the mountain. The log bridge crossing directly underneath the waterfall is the ideal place to soak in the sights and snap a scenic photo or two.

Combining the PCT and Ramona Falls trail allows for a neat lollipop loop that treats hikers to a wide range of environments. The hiking is relatively easy throughout, with the only challenge coming early when you must ford the Sandy River. Consider packing trekking poles for the crossing.

Paradise Park

Distance: 12.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

If you catch Paradise Park in full bloom, you might think you woke up in a buzzing heaven of bees. The sprawling alpine meadows are flooded with paintbrush, lupine, mariposa, and other mountain flowers. At peak wildflower season, there’s a sweetness in the air that is unmatched anywhere.

The price of admission is a lengthy 12-mile jaunt that requires you to descend and then climb Zig Zag Canyon. On the far side of the climb, follow the signs for the Paradise Park Loop. With multiple water crossings, wear either quick-draining trail runners or waterproof boots.

Mirror Lake with Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain Extension Option

Distance: 4.2 miles or 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 600 feet or 1,500 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Tucked into the south slopes of Mount Hood, Mirror Lake is a classic destination to spend a summer’s day relaxing and cooling off in the ice-cold mountain water. If a respectable climb is more your speed, continue past the lake to Tom, Dick & Harry Mountain, where vistas await.

Families will love the easy access to the lake. The short 1/3-mile loop around the lake will provide dreamy, lackadaisical exploration. If going the full distance, pack extra water or filter from the lake, as the trail can get dry and hot on the ascent.

Hikes Near Tillamook

Tillamook Forest is often overlooked by Portlanders as the rolling coastal range lacks the number of iconic peaks and rivers found to the east. For those willing to explore a new area, there are still plenty of gems to be found here.

Kings Mountain

Wooden trail sign reading "KINGS MOUNTAIN SUMMIT" with a wooden box below
Kings Mountain

Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
Difficulty: Hard

Rising high above the Wilson River, King Mountain is the best workout to be had west of Portland. For most of the climb, you’ll be hidden in mossy, old-growth forest, though the top vistas show off the surrounding coastal range. Fill out your summit logbook to celebrate.

Hiking to the peak is an option all year long if you’re not afraid to tackle a little snow in the winter. Bring along a pair of microspikes to help navigate the steep, snowy switchbacks.

Historic Hiking Loop

Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Rather than climbing to a scenic peak, the Historic Hiking Loop allows you to meander through the rolling foothills of the coastal range for a lengthy but casual day out. Going clockwise, just past five miles in, you can make a tiny detour to check out University Falls.

Be aware that this area of the Tillamook Forest is multi-use, and many dirt bikes and ATVs will be present at the trailhead. While the loop is for pedestrian use only, you will intersect with multiple OHV trails, so be sure to look twice at trail intersections.

More Day Hikes Near Portland

Many of Portland’s great hikes come densely clustered in a specific forest or mountain, but there are also stand-alone trails that shine brightly and are well worth visiting.

Silver Falls State Park

Waterfall pouring over a rock outcropping in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
Silver Falls State Park

Distance: 7.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,150 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Permit: Oregon State Park Pass

Silver Falls, the most famous park in Oregon, is popular for the aptly named Trail of Ten Falls. This seven-mile loop takes hikers through a canyon, which offers a new waterfall to enjoy every few minutes. The return trail above the canyon provides panoramic views of your traverse.

While fantastic year-round, spring snowmelt will have the waterfalls raging at full force. Several of the waterfalls allow hikers to walk directly behind them. The noise and blast of mist is an iconic experience, but watch out for the slick, wet rocks that can be tricky to navigate.

Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista

Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Permit: Discover Pass

Crossing Oregon’s northeast border into Washington will take you to Silver Star Mountain, my favorite lesser-known hike near Portland. The peak shows off extremely photogenic ridgelines, some of which you can explore on several adjacent trails. On a clear day, this is one of the best places to see all the volcanic peaks in the area.

Accessing this hike from any of the other trailheads requires either a very long day of hiking or a high-clearance vehicle for the rough roads. Starting from the Grouse Vista trailhead requires a longer drive but allows everyone easy access to this breathtaking hike.

Backpacking Trips Near Portland

Have you already nailed down your perfect day hiking gear list and are now ready for a multi-day challenge? Here are several Portland classics to get you out of the city and sleeping under the stars.

Siouxon Creek

Siouxon Creek waterfall surrounded by greenery
Siouxon Creek

Distance: 2 to 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 250 to 750 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Multiple easily accessible campsites directly on Siouxon Creek make this trip a great location for a stress-free getaway. Within the first four miles of the trail, you’ll pass Horseshoe Creek, Siouxon, Wildcat, and Chinook Falls. All landmarks campsites within a few minutes.

Siouxon Creek provides a great opportunity for beginner backpackers to test their gear and skills. This out-and-back is a choose-your-own adventure, as you can adjust the length of the hike to best meet your needs.

Gorge Loop

Distance: 26 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,500 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Starting from the Herman Creek Trailhead, you can loop the Herman Creek Trail with a scenic return on the PCT. For a two-night adventure, camp at either Cedar Swamp or Noble camp on night one and the Benson Plateau on night two. For a single-night trip, camp midway at Wahtum Lake.

The loop allows you to explore both Tomlike and Chinidere Mountains, which provide some of the best 360-degree views to be had this high up in the Gorge. Hiking the Benson Plateau offers a quiet, almost eerie contrast to the long canyon climbs.

Timberline Trail

Distance: 41.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 10,300 feet
Difficulty: Hard
Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

Arguably the best way to spend a long weekend outdoors in Oregon is circumnavigating Portland’s most iconic volcano. Timberline Trail boasts all the stunning sights of the mountain, with every crested ridgeline opening a new perspective. Put this loop on your bucket list immediately.

The backpacking trip generally functions as a long series of climbs and descents over the many ridgelines that make up the mountain. At the bottom, you’ll have to cross glacial rivers, and at the top of the ridges, you’ll be rewarded with fresh breezes and jaw-dropping sights.

I recommend making this a four-day adventure. From Timberline Lodge, go clockwise, camping at the Sandy River, Elk Cove Camp, and Elk Meadows. Equal 10-mile days ease the challenge and let you fully take in the experience.

Don’t forget to dial in your backpacking gear list before you go.

Which Portland Hikes are on Your List? 

Two backpackers headed up a trail towards Mount Hood
Hiking opportunities near Portland, Oregon, are endless

You won’t be let down after exploring Tillamook, Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, or any of the other popular destinations providing the best hikes near Portland, Oregon. Each unique area offers options for all sorts of distance and elevation gain, allowing you to choose your preferred difficulty.

If you’re searching for scenic day hikes within walking distance of the city or crave a few backpacking trip ideas, everything can be reached within an hour and a half drive of the city center.

The ball is now in your court. Choose one of our 17 best hikes and backpacking trips near Portland, throw on your backpack, hit the trail, and start exploring.

Last Updated on March 25, 2024

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Maks Durayev

Maks is a writer residing in the Pacific Northwest who loves to cover all things related to food, the great outdoors, and environmental sustainability. When he's not writing, you’ll find him roaming the woods or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

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