Just In Time for Spring: The 5 Best Hikes In And Around Portland

5.      Henry Hagg Lake / Scoggins Valley Park

Location: 50250 SW Scoggins Valley Road, Gaston, OR 97119. The lake is 25 miles southwest of Portland, outside of Forest Grove.

Description: Within an hour of downtown Portland, Hagg Lake’s 15 miles of hiking trails offer a perfectly convenient, yet rugged, escape for Portland hikers. This man-made lake, snuggled at the foot of the coastal range, was created in the 1970s and has been a Portland favorite for its hiking, boating, fishing and biking ever since. Hagg Lake is managed and maintained by Washington County. Day passes are $5 for a single vehicle, and $6 for a vehicle with a boat. Season passes are available.

4.   Pittock Mansion Hike

Location: I recommend beginning the hike at the Lower Macleay Park trailhead located at NW 29th Avenue and Upshur Street. However, for a shorter hike, you may begin at Upper Macleay Park on NW Cornell Road, near the Hoyt Arboretum.

Description: Located in the amazing, one-of-a-kind Forest Park, this hike is just a few miles outside of downtown Portland. It is a 5 mile roundtrip hike with nearly 900 feet of elevation gain. The hike can be moderately difficult, depending on the muddiness of the trail. Pittock Mansion is the end reward for the hike, and it does not disappoint. Pittock Mansion is an architectural landmark of the Pacific Northwest and offers some of the most breathtaking views of the Rose City. It is $8.50 for adults to enter and tour the mansion itself, but one can walk around the perimeter, enjoying the views, for free.

3.   Trail of Ten Falls / Canyon Trail – Silver Falls State Park

Location: Silver Falls State Park is located in Silverton Oregon and is approximately 72 miles southeast of Portland.

Description: Of the five hikes listed, this hike is the farthest from Portland. However, pictures and descriptions cannot do the beauty of the park justice. The distance of the hike is a 6.9 mile loop with 700 feet of elevation gain. A popular feature of this hike is that the trail loops directly behind several of the massive waterfalls, giving hikers spectacular views of the falls and a crisp misting. Late March to early May is my favorite time of the year for this hike, as the wildflowers are in bloom. There is a $3 fee for a single vehicle, and pets are not allowed on the Canyon Trail.

2.   Punchbowl Falls – Eagle Creek

Location: 41 miles East of Portland, directly off of I-84.

Description: The hike to punchbowl falls is an often tedious 4.2 mile roundtrip with 400 feet of elevation gain. A large portion of the trail has been blasted out of the side of the gorge, and sheer drop-offs along the side of the trail are to be expected. Support chains are provided at the most precarious portions for those hikers hindered by a fear of heights. Each season possesses its own dangers. During the fall, winter, and early spring, the trail can be wet and slippery. During late spring and summer, the trail is very popular, and passing hikers can present a hazard. Young children and pets should be kept very close. Punchbowl falls is an incredible 30-foot waterfall, surrounded by the 80-foot walls of the punchbowl. The falls provide the best natural swimming area within a fifty mile radius of Portland, if hikers can cope with the cold water. Fees are $5 for a single vehicle; however, the parking lot can become very crowded on sunny weekends and early arrival is recommended.

1.   Dog Mountain

Location: Located in southwest Washington. The trailhead is 47 miles east of Portland, just across the Columbia River, between mile markers 53 and 54, on Highway 14.

Description: Let me begin by saying, this is a strenuous hike. At 6.8 miles roundtrip and 2,800 feet of elevation gain, there is very little, if any, level portions of this trail. As you hike through thick vegetation, that is often very wet during the spring months, you travel over several stretches of scree (loose rock) that can be very slippery. Once you emerge from the dense vegetation, you will be rewarded with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Columbia Gorge. If you are hiking between late March and early June, you will pass through vast yellow fields of basalmroot wildflowers. Once at the top, there are excellent locations to eat lunch, rest and enjoy my favorite view in the Columbia Gorge. The way back down is just as steep and can be even more treacherous, so proper footwear is always recommended. A $5 parking pass is required for a single vehicle.

Forget the rain, get out and enjoy this beautiful region!

About Arran Gimba