A Guide to Biking, Hiking, Running, Walking, Water Sports, Skiing, Fishing, and Hunting
Oregon outdoors starts in Portland. Let’s hear from Michael Houck and M.J. Cody, editors of Wild in The City. Here are three paragraphs from the first section of the book (A Sense of Place) called River City written by Robin Cody:
I poke around Portland by boat, catching the sights and smells here at the confluence of two great rivers. At water level I get a new angle on the city. Familiar arrangements can appear to be marvelous.
One summer Saturday I headed up the Columbia and into the Willamette, where the natural and the human gave every sign of getting along. Herons and kingfishers worked the water near the growl and diesel whiff of a working tug. Men in small boats, fishing for steelhead, were catching and tossing back shad. Ocean-going ships took on lumber, gave up Toyotas. In the foreground, an osprey lifted a wide-eyed shad to a nest atop pilings. Behind that, a crane lifted buckets of gravel from a barge.
Spring chinook already has passed, but a great sustaining notion of this place is that salmon and steelhead still surge through the heart of a metro area of 1.6 million people. One of America’s great fishing holes lies within view of a Merrill Lynch office. Here is a heron rookery within paddling distance of NBA basketball. I can dock the boat and stroll to the world’s best bookstore (Powell’s Books).
Most Active Cities: Portland is No. 1 in U.S.A.
Portland was named the No. 1 city for being active in 2013 by Men’s Health magazine. The magazine ranks 100 American cities from most active to least active. Factors included the amount of exercise at home and at gyms, TV watching and video game popularity, not to mention some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, since anyone who lives here knows Portland is by no means the least active city in the U.S.A., it’s safe to assume it’s somewhere near the top of most active. At the very top, even, with Boise, Salt Lake City and the twins, Minneapolis and St. Paul, right behind.
The Journey of OR-7
In the Fall of 2011, OR-7 — a wolf from the Imnaha Pack in Northeast Oregon — made history. After an epic journey across the state, the 2-year old male became the first wolf confirmed west of the Cascades since the last bounty was collected in 1947.
In a moment of rare historic symmetry, OR-7 — born to the first pack of wolves to return to Oregon since that tragic day – may have passed by the very spot in the Umpqua National Forest where Oregon’s last wolf was killed.
After spending time in the Soda Mt. Wilderness, Klamath Basin and Sky Lakes Wilderness south of Crater Lake, he continued his journey South and became the first wolf confirmed in California in nearly a century! Part of what made his trek across the state possible were the Wilderness and roadless areas he traveled through.
In an attempt to draw attention to the great conservation success story that is wolf recovery, Oregon Wild sponsored a kids art and naming contest. On January 4, 2012 OR-7 got a new name — Journey.
On the very same day, the first “real” photo of Journey — taken by a hunters trail camera — surfaced in the Medford Mail Tribune. A few months later, the first color photo of Journey was released by the California Department of Fish & Game (above).
Journey found a mate and they had a litter of pups in the spring of 2014. It appears that the pair has settled in southwest Oregon.
German-born filmmaker Clemens Schenk, who lives in Bend, has created a documentary, OR-7 – The Journey. A look-alike wolf from Wolf People, an Idaho reserve, is the star of the film, which includes interviews with wolf experts as well as a woman who encountered OR-7 in the wild. The initial screening of the documentary occurred on May 25, 2014, at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland.
Portland is one of the “greenest” cities in the US. This distinction comes from the climate (vegetation loves rain), and a civic pride in protecting the environment. One obvious display of city’s stewardship is the number of parks it contains. Overall, the Portland park scene rates very high according to the Center for City Park Excellence. We’re second in our density class for park land as a percentage of city land area. Portland has 24.8 acres per 1,000 residents or a total of 13,357 acres.
Forest Park encompasses 5,000 plus acres abutting Portland’s affluent “West Hills.” It includes 74 miles of trails, and is a popular retreat for runners, hikers, mountain bikers, and birders. Just to the west of downtown is Hoyt Arboretum with 220 acres where hikers and runners can access over twelve miles of trails. Further south along the West Hills is Council Crest Park, which affords the best view of the city from above, and on the opposite (east) side of the city is the 195 acre Mount Tabor Park, another vantage with paths winding through old-growth forest.
For half a century, Portland residents trucked garbage to the city’s northern tip and dumped it into the network of sloughs and forests where the Columbia and Willamette rivers meet. Since the St. Johns Landfill closed in 1991, the city has turned the site and two neighboring seasonal lakes into the Smith and Bybee Wetlands, the largest protected wetland within a U.S. city. The 1,922-acre park sits side by side with industrial properties, a juxtaposition that underscores the park’s lushness. “You feel like you’re going into a different world,” says area ecologist Elaine Stewart. Trails and a new boat launch give hikers and paddlers a way in and a chance to spot migrating songbirds, for whom the lake is a favorite stop from March until May. They join the year-round residents: beavers, river otters, coyotes, bald eagles, and painted turtles—not a typical list of wildlife found within city limits.
Located only minutes (southwest) from downtown Portland is Oregon’s only state park within a major metropolitan area. Everyday, visitors come to hike or stroll the 645 acre Tryon Creek State Park nature trails through the verdant ravine between Boones Ferry Road and Terwilliger Boulevard in southwest Portland. Cyclists of all ages bike along the paved trail on the park’s eastern edge, stopping along the way to admire a trillium. Tryon Creek is one of the only streams in the metro area with a run of steelhead trout.
The mission of the Urban Greenspaces Institute is to ensure that parks, regional trail systems, greenways and greensapces are integrated with the built environment in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region, and to promote urban greenspace efforts national and internationally. The Institute engages in a variety of programs and activities to pursue its mission of better integrating the natural and built environments and ensuing parks, trails, and greenspaces are included in growth management strategies for the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region.
Metro’s Portfolio of Natural Areas, Parks and Trails is an 80-page document that describes Metro’s 15,000 acres of parks and natural clusters. It’s a good guide to help you with selecting the trails and parks you may want to visit. Metro is the area’s regional government.
The 40-Mile Loop was originally proposed in 1904 by the Olmsted Brothers (Frederick Law, Jr. and John Charles, sons of Frederick Law Olmstead) who were brought to Portland from Boston to propose a park system as part of the planning for the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and World’s Fair. They believed that Portland’s admirable park system could and should be connected by what they called parkways, which later turned into what we call roads. But soon adjacent trails — scenic walking, hiking or bicycle paths — sprouted alongside.
The connected system was to be a 40-mile loop encircling the city. But over the year the 40 miles blossomed into more than 140 miles and connected over 30 parks.
Maps and Website for the 40-Mile Loop
You can purchase a map for $4 at the Travel Portland Information Center in Pioneer Courthouse Square or the Portland Parks and Recreation office in The Portland Building (1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.). You can also print it from the 40mileloop.org website though you may find the purchased map more convenient.
The Portland Parks and Recreation Website has a number of trail maps that you can download.
As biking has become more popular over the last few years, cyclists have discovered the trails on the 40-Mile Loop — it is the signature project for city cycling. For hardcore cyclists, it’s possible to do the loop in one day, but that’s not really recommended. Instead, pick a trailhead or a convenient nearby side street and enjoy a down-and-back ride on the loop. Or start from almost anywhere along the loop and do what everybody else did 100 years ago: Take the trolley (or some equivalent) home.
The Intertwine Alliance is a coalition of 150+ public, private and nonprofit organizations working to integrate nature more deeply into the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region. As a convener, facilitator, communicator and backbone organization, The Intertwine Alliance supports strategic conversations, initiatives and collaborative projects that help our partners increase their impact.
Partners in The Intertwine Alliance share a collective vision for a thriving, multi-jurisdictional, interconnected system of neighborhood, community and regional parks, natural areas, trails, open spaces, educational programming, and recreation opportunities distributed equitably throughout the Portland-Vancouver region.
Statewide Map Lists 235 Sites to View Oregon Creatures
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has built a highly detailed, statewide wildlife viewing map. Biologists across the state determined which places were richest with wildlife and most accessible to the public.
Because they had to stop somewhere, the list was narrowed down to 235 sites, all on public land, where visitors have a decent chance of seeing at least some of Oregon’s approximately 140 land mammal species, 30 amphibian species, 30 reptile species and 275 bird species. Another 85 or so bird species migrate through the state.
The online map takes some getting used to, but taking time to learn what it offers is worthwhile; a two-minute tutorial offered on the map’s front page is a good place to start. Color coded by recreation zones, the map is ideal for those headed out on an Oregon road trip and wondering where to look for wildlife. For instance, if weekend plans are taking you to the south coast, click on the red flag indicating Harris Beach State Park. A box pops up describing trails to tide pools and explaining that just offshore is a bird sanctuary occupied by tufted puffins, Leach’s storm-petrels and brown pelicans. The box leads viewers to a link filled with everything you might need to know about the park, from the yurts and cabins for rent there to the dramatic storms that blast through the area in winter.
Open Trip Planner lets you plan trips mixing transit, walking and biking into a single itinerary. You can customize all trips by moving a circle inside a triangle, adjusting for time, hills and safety. You even get elevation profiles from the USGS, which should help people determine which parts of the route might be harder to bike and walk.
Forest Service Cabins for Rent
Whether it is winter, spring, summer, or fall, you can experience all of the seasons in a historic Forest Service cabin or fire lookout. Once operated as fully staffed lookouts or remote ranger stations, many of these rentals provide an opportunity to live the life of a ranger or fire lookout.
These recreation rentals are offered to the public under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Rental fees are retained locally to help maintain and preserve these historic properties. Pets are allowed in many of the recreation rentals available to the public.
Many of the cabins and lookouts that compose the Recreation Lodging offering in the Pacific Northwest Region are the historic representatives of a once- extensive system of protective structures designed to detect wildfires – and to house fire guards, “smoke chasers”, who formed the front-line defense in fighting those fires as the initial attack. The cabins were “Guard Stations” – intermediate protective facilities between the Ranger Station and the back country. Guard Stations were strategically located, to afford the maximum contact with people headed into the back country– to check permits, provide information, and caution about the use of fire.
There are over 50 units for rent. For information about renting a cabin visit the US Forest Service website page about rentals at Recreation Rentals in the Pacific Northwest.
Join an Outdoor Club
The Portland metro area has a number of outstanding non-profit member clubs where you can team up with other members for your favorite outdoor activity. It’s a great way to meet people with similar interests and it is also an economical way to participate in the outdoors. Here are a few of the most popular clubs.
- Audubon Society of Portland Very active organization with numerous trips and activities. Great summer camps for kids.
- Cascade Paragliding Club The club is dedicated to the advancement of paragliding in this region through the education of its members in safety and general knowledge of the sport, the development and maintenance of local flying sites and through the comradeship of fellow pilots.
- Clark-Skamania Flyfishers CSF is an active flyfishing club that offers members opportunities to learn rod and net building, fly tying, casting, and many other flyfishing skills. During the year, CSF has club outings, designed to accommodate families as well as individuals. Most fly fishing clubs only offer monthly social gatherings but the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers is a “teaching” club.
- Columbia River Volkssport/Walking Club CRVC is a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon. CRVC organizes quality non-competitive walking events in scenic and historic areas.
- DragonSports USA is a non-profit dragon boat paddling club that promotes fitness and friendship through paddle sports.
- Mazamas Oregon’s famous climbing club. The Mazamas offer a variety of outdoor activities to include climbs where ever a peak exists in the world.
- Oregon Nordic Club Primary a singles-social cub that has monthly potlucks and all types of outdoor activities with the emphasis on cross-country skiing. Most of the trips are on the week-end – they also have week-long outdoor trips.
- Lower Columbia River Estuary The Estuary Partnership focuses on the lower 146 miles of the Columbia River.
- Natural Conservancy of Oregon The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.
- Oregon Wild Founded in 1974, Oregon Wild works to protect and restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians. Oregon Wild has been instrumental in securing permanent legislative protection for some of Oregon’s most precious landscapes.
Hiking and Poking Around
- Bird Watching Guide The Oregon Coast Birding Trail is a 52-page guide that describes how to find the trail’s 173 sites and the Oregon Coast’s 498 species of birds. The publication is available at the Oregon Coast Visitors Association. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: “(Oregon is) fifth in the lower 48 and seventh among all North American states and provinces in the different number of bird species.”
- Bonney Butte Hawk Watch Bonney Butte is a hawk flyway located on the southeast side of Mt. hood. A team of observers tallies 2,500-4,5000 hawks each year. The best time to visit is mid-September to mid-October. Peak flights are usually between 10 am to 3 pm, so bring a lunch, a chair, and binoculars. Directions to Bonney Butte are on the Hawk Watch website.
- Cascades Mountain Range Gorp has built an excellent resource for the Oregon Cascades mountains.
- Casing Oregon All about outdoor destinations in Oregon.
- Desert Trail Association The Mission of the Desert Trail Association is to establish a national hiking trail across the Western States desert areas from Mexico to Canada and to promote activities that protect the integrity of the desert by educating people about the desert, especially through the intimate contact of hiking and backpacking. They lead hikes on Steens Mountain and in other parts of the Oregon desert.
- Forest Service Rentals Whether it is winter, spring, summer, or fall, you can experience all of the seasons in a historic Forest Service cabin or fire lookout. Once operated as fully staffed lookouts or remote ranger stations, many of these rentals provide an opportunity to live the life of a ranger or fire lookout.
- Friends of the Columbia Gorge The Gorge is a 50-million-year-old geologic wonder. It is a natural wind tunnel, creating great windsurfing conditions. The Friends of the Gorge offer numerous hikes throughout the year.
- Friends of Smith & Bybee Lakes This North Portland wildlife area is a treasure and the ‘Friends’ are involved in maintaining it as well as sponsoring numerous trips (paddle, hiking, etc.) to explore the area. This natural area is the largest protected wetland within an American city even though it is surrounded by port terminals, warehouses, and other commercial developments.
- Great Outdoors Recreation Pages (GORP) covers Oregon from tip to tip. It has built hundred of links and it has it own content.
- Green Scene Newsletter Metro’s publication about the region’s natural areas and outdoor events.
- Guide to Hiking with Kids This guide will help you with some simple planning so taking kids on a hike will be a fun adventure for the whole family. The site is primarily a commercial site that sells playground equipment but they do have a few pages about hiking with kids.
- Metro Parks and Natural Areas Use Metro’s Find a Park web tool to search more than 1,000 parks and natural areas throughout the region to find the best places near you to unpack your picnic, shoot some hoops, put your canoe in the water or look for wildlife. You can use Metro’s online calendar for hundreds of nature classes, paddle trips, hikes, tours, wildlife wpchring ing and other nature activities throughout the region.
- Spring Wildflowers Meadows around Portland come alive every spring, filling with stunning displays of colorful wildflowers from the Columbia River Gorge to inside city limits. The “best time to go” dates listed are annual estimates. Also check the immensely helpful Oregon Wildflowers website to track when flowers are in bloom.
- State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) offers a wealth of information, they carry a full range of outdoor-related books, publications and maps.
- North Portland Greenway A group of North Portland advocates hopes that one day a riverfront trail will stretch between St. Johns, or points north, to the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade and the Steel Bridge. It’s tempting for Greenway advocates to make the dreamlike comparisons because the Springwater Corridor has provided such a boost to the Sellwood area. The Greenway is indeed just a dream for now and a handful of reports and studies supporting its creation. Advocate estimate that it will take 10 years for the Greenway to receive funding and be fully constructed. It could provide a safe alternative for bicyclists seeking a route from the St. Johns, Portsmouth, Overlook, Bridgeton, Arbor Lodge and University Park neighborhoods and avoid existing bike lanes on treacherous roads.
- Oregon Bigfoot A database of Bigfoot sighting in the state. Autumn Williams started the website a few years ago to She spends nearly every weekend in the summer (and many in the winter) in research areas. Her goal is to develop a trust and rapport with these creatures and study them in their natural habitat.
- Oregon Outdoor Recreation Guide is a resource for flyfishing, fishing, camping, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and other outdoor activities in Oregon. It has some hidden gems about Oregon.
- Oregon State Parks Yurts and cabins (78 cabins and 190 yurts) in Oregon State Parks can be reserved over the Internet – go to www.oregonstateparks.org, click the “Making Reservations” link in the menu, and connect to ReserveAmerica, the contractor that provides online reservation services for Oregon State Parks.
- Oregon Wild Founded in 1974, Oregon Wild works to protect and restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians.
- The Oregonian brings readers up to date on the outdoors at their online site.
- Pacific Tree Climbing Institute PTCI invites you to experience the legendary trees and forests of Oregon by climbing them. PTCI offers both full day and overnight climbing trips for individuals and small groups.
- Timberline Lodge Ski area and historic hotel on top of Mt. Hood.
- Pacific Crest Trail The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is the jewel in the crown of Americas scenic trails, spanning 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through three western states (Washington, Oregon, and California).
- Typographical Maps Nature of the Northwest. Address: 800 NE Oregon St., Suite 965, Portland, OR 97232. Telephone: (971-673-2331).
Cyclists have long is a long revered Portland for its bicycle-friendly culture and infrastructure, including the network of bike lanes that the city began planning in the early 1970s. Now, riders are helping the city build a cycling economy.
There are, of course, large national companies like Nike and Columbia Sportswear that have headquarters here and sell some cycling-related products, and there are well-known brands like Team Estrogen, which sells cycling clothing for women online from a Portland suburb. There is the growing number of smaller businesses, whether bike frame builders or clothing makers, that often extol recycling as much as cycling, sustainability as much as success.
With Metro’s eighth edition Bike There! map, you can explore 235 miles of off-street trails and over 600 miles of on-street bike routes. This map can be purchased at numerous bike shops in Portland as well as Powell’s Books.
Oregon Bike Events and Bike Trips
- Cycle Oregon Cycle Oregon is an annual seven day bicycle tour that provides the opportunity to experience and explore rural Oregon. Each September 2,000 cyclists travel a different route on paved roads that open the door to the places and people that make Oregon special.
- CycloCross What is it? An off-road circuit race that is part criterium, part mountain bike race, part time trial, part steeplechase, and wild. The Cross Crusade takes place in the fall in varying locations in northwest Oregon, including Portland.
- McKenzie River National Recreation Trail A top destination for exceptionally fit mountain bikers is the 26.5-mile McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. It follows the wild and scenic McKenzie River while passing through a 600-year old Douglas fir forest and spectacular waterfalls.
- Bicycle Transportation Alliance is a non-profit bicycle advocacy organization based in Portland. The BTA promotes and protects the rights of bicyclists in order to create safe, sane and sustainable communities in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
- Oregon Bicycle Racing Association An active organization with one of the most exciting tracks in the United States. At 268.43 meters around with a 16.6 meter radius and a 43 degree bank, Alpenrose is also one of the steepest velodromes in the country. Alpenrose is still home for the only North American six-day race.
- Northwest Trail Alliance Mountain bike club’s site includes info about membership, riders’ code, and schedule of events and rides rated for difficulty.
- Portland Wheelmen Touring Club Recreational cycling club’s site includes schedules of rides, meetings, and events, a membership form, and resources.
- Bike Portland Focusing on transportation and advocacy, this high-traffic site attracts readers from Portland and beyond. With a small staff of writers and interns, Jonathan Maus has grown BikePortland from just another bike blog to a respected news source for cyclists in the Pacific Northwest and across the globe.
- Bike There! The 25th anniversary edition of Bike There!, updated in 2007, is a colorful, easy-to-use guide to bicycle-friendly streets and bike paths around the Portland metropolitan region.
- Bike Map byCycle’s website includes an online bicycle trip planner for the Portland metropolitan region.
- City of Portland Transportation Department If you’re looking for biking information, this is the place to find it. Includes commuters biking maps as well as other biking resources.
- CleverCycles They specialize in bikes with kickstands. And fenders, lights, bells, racks, chainguards: all the stuff that you make do without in the name of sport, or pay extra to bolt on, if it’s even possible. They carry the bakfietsen, a cargo box for kids that carries up to 3 children in front, with room left over for groceries. Great blog on their site.
- Community Cycling Center A not-for-profit organization in Northeast Portland that promotes bicycling by selling and servicing bikes to the public at a low-cost. They offer repair classes and accept donated bikes which they repair and sell.
- Pedal Bike Tours They offer sight seeing tours of Portland, the wine country, and the Columbia Gorge. Their most popular is the 9-mile tour of the historic downtown area. Portland Bike Tours also offers bike rentals at their downtown location at 133 SW 2nd Avenue.
- PDX Cross A collection of stunning cyclocross photography from a small group of talented Portland photographers, many of them current or former staffers for The Oregonian who make these photos on their own time.
- Tot Cycle TotCycle’s tagline tells you most of what you need to know: “Tots on bikes, kids as cargo, family cycling, and other high-occupancy velo goodness.” Written by Seattle pediatrician Julian Davies, it’s an entertaining and practical resource.
- Yellow Bike Project Get up to speed on the program that provides free-to-borrow bikes downtown. Includes history and news.
- Hood to Coast Relay The annual Hood To Coast Relay is an overnight, long-distance relay race held annually in late August, traditionally on the Friday and Saturday before the Labor Day weekend. It is one of the longest and largest relays in the world. Considered to be on the “bucket list” for many a runner and walker, Hood To Coast has filled its team limit for the past 22 years, and 15 straight years on “Opening Day” of the lottery. The course runs approximately 200 miles from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, through the Portland metropolitan area, and over the Oregon Coast Range to the beach town of Seaside on the Oregon Coast.
- PortlandFit Whether you are an experienced marathoner or you have exercised once, you’ll find that PortlandFit has what you need.
- Portland Marathon It has been ranked as one of the top local road race events in the USA, and one of the top 40 races of all types and distances. Runner’s World has called the Portland Marathon “the best people’s marathon in the West” and for the past ten years has ranked it as one of the top 15 marathons in the country. The 8-hours that runners and walkers are allow to finish brings a wide assortment of people with different abilities. For the past years, about one-quarter of the participants have been walkers.
- Portland Triathlon Club The goal of the Portland Triathlon Club is to provide a fun, educational and supportive environment for multi-sport athletes of all skill levels to train, compete and build lifelong friendships.
- Run with Paula Women’s running club. Their website has information about a number of running events for women.
Portland is among the top 10 walkable cities in the nation, according to a website that measures walkability. Walkscore.com ranked the largest cities in the nation on a scale of zero to 100 based on how easy it is to live a “car-lite” lifestyle. Portland is number 12, with a walk score of 66.
Seven neighborhoods in Portland are Walkers’ Paradises, with walks scores of 90-100. Forty-five percent of Portland residents have a walk score of 70 or above. Eighty-three percent have a walk score of at least 50 — and 17 percent live in car-dependent neighborhoods.
Oregon Crosswalk Law
Legislators decided to make it clear in 2011 that a pedestrian was crossing the street — and that cars should safely stop — when any part of the pedestrian moved into a crosswalk with an intent to cross. ORS 811.028 is the section affected by the new law. Specifically: “For the purposes of this section, a pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrians [sic] body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”
- Race Center Magazine with online Web site devoted to tracking race events and running in the Northwest.
- Walk About A magazine about getting fit and having fun. Published in Oregon with many articles about walking in the Pacific Northwest. The magazine is published six times each year and available at area sports stores for free. You can also subscribe to Walk About magazine for $14.95 a year to cover shipping and handling.
- Oregon Road Runners Club With approximately 1,000 members, the club is the largest running club in the West and among the top ten largest running clubs that are members of the national Road Runners Club of America.
- Southwest Trails This Southwest Portland neighborhood group builds and maintains trails in their neighborhoods. They also have scheduled walks.
- Team Oregon Devoted to runners and walkers of all ages, with coaching, publications, rehabilitation, and forum pages.
- Oregon Walks Oregon Walks is a non-profit community-based membership organization in the greater Portland area dedicated to promoting walking and making the conditions for walking safe and attractive.
Portland Walking Guides
- Portland Walks With Portland Hill Walks, you’ll take twenty meandering, view-studded strolls fromthe city’s forested canyons to its cityscape peaks, as you explore Portland’s streets, stairs, trails, and hidden passageways on the west side. Like Portland Hill Walks, Laura Foster’s Portland City Walks takes you on adventures with twenty, long (3-6 mile), scenic routes through Portland neighborhoods, parks, and nearby towns.
- Walk There! Metro’s (regional government) guide to great places to walk in the Portland-Vancouver area. The book will lead you on 50 explorations of newly acquired urban natural areas, scenic parks, historic neighborhoods and fascinating main streets. The 50 Hike Guides are also available to download at Metro’s website.
Other Walking Resources
- Every Boyd Walk An online educational campaign spreading the news that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week can improve health and prevent disease.
- The Intertwine Alliance This site offers a map that features every park, trail and natural area the Portland-Vancouver region.
- Laura Foster’s Blog Walking author brims with good ideas for walks.
- Metro They offers lots of resources for those who want to explore the region’s trails and parks, including its Walk There! program, featuring resources, maps and safety information in English and Spanish.
- Oregon Trail State Volkssport Association Links to walking clubs, events and more.
- Pedestrian’s Guide to Portland Offers maps and more.
- Ped Pals Portland Bureau of Transportation’s program that aims to pair those 55 and older with walking buddies.
- Senior Strolls program Portland Bureau of Transportation offers this program.
- Ten Toe Express The city of Portland Transportation Department sponsors guided walks that are free and open to all. They are held on Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. from early May through late September. No registration required. The Ten Toe Express program includes a series of guided walks, maps and other materials distributed to residents of the SmartTrips Target Area who place an order, and the Short Tripper coupon book which offers discounts for walking or biking to a business.
- Vamanos! A bilingual mapping project helps people in Cornelius, Forest Grove and Hillsboro learn about great places to walk and bike.
- Mt. Hood Timberline Skiing on Mt. Hood is a year-around activity. The high-speed Palmer lift begins operations each spring and it whisks skiers close to the summit.
- Ski Tiger is a comprehensive guide to the snow in the Northwest. Information on skiing and snowboarding areas, snow conditions, cams, weather, road conditions, and travel.
- Avalanche Information Good resource for back country skiers.
- Bergfreunde Ski Club A non-profit, all-volunteer, sports activities and social club, based in Portland Oregon. Their website reads “2000+ members, 400+ activities per year.” They claim they are the 3rd largest ski club in the nation.
- Cascade Prime Timers Ski club along with other activities. The Prime Timer hike every Friday, XC and snowshoe on Thursdays, ethnic dinning each month, and social each month. Club for ages 50 and older.
- Mountain High Snowsport Club They claim to be one of the most fun little ski clubs in Portland, offering day excursions to Mt. Hood, ski trips throughout the West, ski racing, parties and activities year-round. They have about 150 members and welcome new ones.
- Oregon Nordic Club All types of outdoor activities with the emphasis on cross-country skiing. Most of the trips are on the week-end – they also have week-long outdoor trips.
- Portland Area Ski Club Council Representing ski clubs in the Portland region, site includes meeting and membership info, news, ski trips, and events.
- Oregon Ski/Snow Links Links for all the ski areas, resorts, and snow play.
- Anthony Lakes Our favorite except for the fact that it is 315 miles from Portland. At 8,000 feet you’ll find light, dry snow, perfect for powder lovers. Staying at the Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City makes it worth the drive. A shuttle bus operates between the hotel and the ski area.
- Mt. Bachelor Located in Central Oregon 20 miles south of Bend – Everyone’s “top ten ski area in North America” choice. 10 lifts (seven express quads, three triple), 71 runs, 3,683 acres accessible by lift. 1,600 acres groomed daily. Also Nordic and snowshoe trails.
- Cooper Spur Mt. Hood. One lift, three rope tows, 90 acres skiable terrain, 6.5 kilometers of Nordic trails, tubing center.
- Mt. Hood Meadows Mt. Hood. 10 lifts (four high-speed quads, six double), 87 marked runs, 2,150 skiable acres, 240 acres of night skiing, 15 kilometers of groomed Nordic tails.
- Timberline Lodge Mt. Hood. Six lifts (four quad express, one triple, one double), 32 runs, 1,000 acres of skiable terrain. Lodging available at the Historic Timberline Lodge.
- Mt Hood SkiBowl Mt. Hood. Four lifts, 960 acres of skiable terrain, tubing center.
- Hoodoo Mt. Hood. Five lifts, 1,035 vertical feet of skiing, 15.8 kilometers of Nordic trails.
For water enthusiasts, there is a riverside park that stretches along the Willamette near downtown, and the river itself a haven for boaters of all every stripe. One of the best kept secrets for flatwater paddlers is Bybee and Smith Lakes, in north Portland, which offer one of the most isolated settings within the city. Just across the Willamette from these lakes is Sauvie Island, a large farming community with rustic roads that many bikers ride. The island has lots of water also.
The Oregon Kayaking website offers the best information on area kayaking – click on the site’s “links” and you will understand the breadth of our water resources here in the Pacific Northwest.
- Dragon Sports USA is a non-profit dragon boat paddling club that promotes fitness and friendship through paddle sports.
- Oregon Ocean Paddling Society The 350+ members of the Oregon Ocean Paddling Society (OOPS) are engaged in a rich variety of sea kayak activities at all levels. An active club with members of all ages, it regularly has several paddling trips, educational activities and social events scheduled each month.
Oregon has some of the most exciting rivers in the world and rafting down one of them is an experience of a lifetime. Here is a partial list of outfitters that offer river trips:
- River Drifters (800) 972-0430.
- Oregon Whitewater Adventures (800) 820-7238.
- Andy’s Wild Water Adventures (800) 289-4534.
- Wilderness River Outfitters (208) 756-3959.
- River Odysseys West (800) 451-6034.
- Wet Planet Whitewater rafting and kayaking in the Columbia River Gorge.
Portland has some very competitive rowing clubs, including the co-ed Willamette Rowing Club, and the women-only Portland Women’s Rowing. But there are several clubs for beginners that also retain separate competitive rowing programs. Prices for classes vary. So do the membership fees that give rowers who have completed a learn-to-row class access to club boats under coached supervision.
Portland has several rowing clubs, each adding a distinct flavor to the Portland rowing scene. Check out the RowNW website for information on the entire Northwest’s rowing clubs and events.
- DragonSports USA is a nonprofit dragon boat paddling club located in Portland, Oregon. There are numerous dragon boat teams in the Portland metro area and the DragonSports Website has a page where it lists the clubs. The standard crew complement of a contemporary dragon boat is typically 22, comprising 20 paddlers in pairs facing toward the bow of the boat, 1 drummer or caller at the bow facing toward the paddlers, and 1 sweep (a steerer) at the rear of the boat. Dragon boats however vary in length and the crew size will change accordingly, from small dragon boats with 10 paddlers up to the traditional boats which have upwards of 50 paddlers, plus drummer and sweep. Portland’s Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race hosts North America’s largest Taiwanese-style boat racing.
- Lake Oswego Rowing Club Lake Oswego runs primarily a juniors program but also has a small but active masters program for sweep rowers and scullers of all levels. Classes run into the fall.
- Oregon Rowing Unlimited Housed at Oaks Park, where the Willamette Rowing Club is also located, ORU has a juniors program that is complemented by a masters program for rowers and scullers, too.
- Portland Boat Club Located on the Multnomah Channel near the Sauvie Island Bridge, PBC is a small club for experienced scullers only. The water is regarded among the best in Portland.
- Portland Rowing Club This club is situated at the same spot as the Portland Boat Club. It consists of competitive scullers who keep their singles and doubles at the Portland Boat Club house. Email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Rose City Rowing Though new, Rose City Rowing already has many eager and good young rowers from the metropolitan area. It is located in the Portland Boathouse.
- Station L Rowing Based out of the Portland Boathouse, Station L offers both sweep classes for all levels and sculling classes for experienced rowers. Classes run from April through September. A sweep rowing session will start in early May.
Portland has two officially designated clothing-optional beaches just a short drive from downtown: Collins Beach on Sauvie Island and Rooster Rock State Park, not far from the Crown Point Visitors Center. Collins is situated in the midst of farmland and protected wildlife habitats. Rooster Rock is smack dab in the middle of the Columbia Gorge. Both are as well known for their natural wonders as they are for naturist wonders. Such beauty doesn’t go unrecognized. A Travelors.com 2013 survey points out that Collins is not just one of the top 10 nude beaches in the United States, but ranks No. 7 worldwide.
Some of the best fishing in the world can be found in Oregon. Oregon has many famous rivers such as the Deschutes (central Oregon), McKenzie, and the Rogue (southwestern Oregon). Coastal water for big boat fisherman who love to “throw bait” at the fish are also inviting.
Deschutes River Stoneflies
Stoneflies are common in most large, cool western streams, but are particularly abundant in the Deschutes (Central Oregon river), where they draw an international crowd. The salmon fly hatch is attuned to water temperature and moves north to south, starting in May in the lower Deschutes and peaking through June in the popular and easily drifted water between Warm Springs and the Trout Creek Campground. The best fishing and access are from Maupin, Oregon to Pelton Dam.
Below is a video of fishing for rainbows on the Deschutes during a stonefly hatch.
- Deschutes Angler John and Amy Hazel are friendly and helpful. Besides offering quality fly fishing gear and practical advice in their Maupin fly shop, they both guide trips.
- Ollie Damon’s Ollie Damon’s is one of the oldest outdoor shops in the Portland area and the one that offers great advice and doesn’t load you up on expensive gear. They repair outdoor gear to include vintage reels and build custom fishing rods. Location: 236 SE Grand Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. Telephone: (503) 232-3193.
- River City Fly Shop Located at 11429 SW Schools Ferry Road in Beaverton. Don had collected hundreds of fly fishing items over the years and decided one day to open a fly shop since he already had a huge inventory. You’re find just about anything you need at his small store in Beaverton and his prices are right.
- Clark-Skamania Flyfishers CSF is an active flyfishing club that offers members opportunities to learn rod and net building, fly tying, casting, and many other flyfishing skills. During the year, CSF has club outings, designed to accommodate families as well as individuals. Most fly fishing clubs only offer monthly social gatherings but not the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers. They are a “teaching” club.
- Fly Fishing Resources Information on fly fishing.
- Helen Burns Guide Service Up and down the Rogue River, Helen is considered one of the best guides in the business.
- iFish What a resource! It was crated by Jennie-Logsdon-Martin of Tillamook, Oregon and depends upon donations to keep it up and running.
- Oregon Fly Fishing Blog Fishing reports, conservation news, fishing advice, and hot fly patterns.
- Oregon Trout Nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving native wild fish. Site includes events, programs, education, and membership.
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Information about licenses and other regulations. Sign up for their weekly fishing report.
- Reel Recovery A national nonprofit offering fly-fishing retreats for men diagnosed with cancer.
- Rogue Flyfishers Covers fishing in Southern Oregon’s famous Rogue River. The Rogue is one of eight rivers in the United States designated as wild and scenic. Although there are two major runs for the salmon and steelhead there are fish in the Rogue all year round. You can catch Chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, cutthroat, golden trout, catfish and in the lower part of the river there are still sturgeon. The Chinook and steelhead run in the fall and spring to spawn upriver, and there is also a Coho run in the fall.
- Salmon Trout Steelheader Salmon Trout Steelheader has informative and interesting articles by professional writers and a go-to guide for fishing in the Northwest.
- Stonefly Maidens The mission of Stonefly Maidens is to create opportunities, encourage, educate, and mentor women’s participation in the sport of fly fishing. Their goal is to bring women together who share a love of fly fishing and the beauty of nature to create friendships and lasting memories.
- Western Fly Fishing Covers fishing in Oregon and Washington. An excellent site with information on river levels, reservoir levels, fish counts, hatches, etc.
Websites to Check for Fishing Conditions
- Bonneville: http://www.fpc.org/currentdaily/HistFishTwo_7day-ytd_Adults.htm
- Willamette Falls: http://www.fpc.org/currentdaily/HistFishTwo_7day-ytd_Adults.htm
Willamette River Water Level
- Portland: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=pqr&gage=prto3
- Below Willamette Falls: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=pqr&gage=orco3
Columbia River Water Level
- Vancouver: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=pqr&gage=vapw1
- Bonneville: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=pqr&gage=bono3
For bird hunters, Oregon has two choices: chukars and waterfowl. The state has a very limited population of pheasants. Quail, along with grouse (blues and ruffed), can also be found in the state and offer the upland hunter some opportunity to ‘get out’ and explore the country. Chukars can be found in public lands of which there is an abundance in the state. The sport requires physical endurance as you’ll never see an overweight chukar hunter. Chukar hunters have a saying that captures the essence of the hunt: “The first time you go chukar hunting for fun, after that it is for revenge.” Chukar hunters enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in the state as the photo on the right will attest to — here are two dogs pointing a covey of chukars near the top of a canyon. You need a steady dog that ranges far out to be successful.
Sauvie Island Waterfowl Hunting
Few U.S. cities are within a 30-minute drive of a major waterfowl hunting area. Portland is an exception. Northwest of the city, Sauvie Island’s 12,000-plus acre wildlife management area, owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, is a major stopover and wintering area for many of the Pacific Flyway’s ducks and geese. The management area offers regular hunting throughout the duck season and limited goose hunting. It’s divided into three zones:
- West side: Hunting is allowed every other day for everyone who shows up to draw numbered chips from a bag an hour and a half before shooting hours. Each chip is numbered to determine the order by which the best blinds and ponds are selected. Much of the west side is unfarmed ponds and marshes or flooded pastures.
- East side: Hunting is allowed every other day by reservation only (same days as west side and same days as comparable areas in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, across the Columbia River in Washington).
- North side: Reached at the end of Reeder Road on the east side and open to hunters, hikers, bird watchers, etc. (but no motor vehicles) seven days a week through the hunting season.
Reservations are by application and are separated into several segments throughout the hunting season. There is a stand-by line each hunt morning from which unfilled reservations are filled on a first-come basis. Often, those who get bad draws on the west side drive to the stand-by line on the east to take their chances. Contact information: Sauvie Island Wildlife Area Hunt Result Hotline (503) 657-2000 x395 or Sauvie Island Wild Life Area main line (503) 621-3488.
Brian Maguire of Portland carries a lifelong conservation ethic on his hunter’s sleeve and knows how to use both the federal and state systems of public land management to get attention for wild areas. His participation in the Mount Hood bill resulted in protection of about 16,000 of the bill’s 125,000-acre addition to the wilderness that just cleared a Senate committee. All of it is prime winter habitat for deer, elk and hundreds of other fish and wildlife species benefiting from protection. In 2007, Field & Stream magazine named him one of six finalists in its “Heroes of Conservation” awards. His passion is big game hunting.
Know The Serial Number of Your Firearms
In the city of Portland, gun owners need to know the serial numbers of their firearms, and tell authorities if their gun is stolen. The city can fine owners who fail to do so.
- Buck’s Bags This Boise, Idaho company has a well designed upland bird vest that can be worn in every weather condition.
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Information about licenses and other regulations. Ladies, check out their “Outdoor Education” programs.
- Oregon Hunters Association OHA is the largest non-profit conservation organization in the state of Oregon dedicated to wildlife, wildlife habitat, and hunter’s rights.
- Pacific Northwest Chapter of NAVHDA If you have a pointing dog, this is the organization to join. Lots of activities and knowledgeable people to help train your dog. NAVHDA was founded to foster the breeding, training and testing of versatile hunting dogs.
- Wes Wallace Custom Bows Wes has been building bows since 1978 and he keeps the quality of his bows consistent by doing all the work himself on every bow he creates. His 3D archery course and target butts on his seven acre home site in Beavercreek (just south of Portland) gives customers a chance to try out his bows.
- White Water Gun Dog Training Rob Barlow’s 125 acre site is approximately 65 miles from downtown Portland. The grounds of rolling terrain mixed with several ponds and wooded lots makes it an ideal facility for dog training. Rob trains flushing dogs, pointers, and retrievers.