When it feels like the world is coming to an end, and a bunch of the formerly green trees to Portland’s east are burned, don’t get down. Instead, look west: Forest Park is very much alive.
Forest Park is in its prime each summer, and it’s a disservice to yourself, your friends, and your family if all that you ever show them in the park is that broken-ass stone house that’s actually just a vandalized 1930s public restroom. Good job, folks! Venture a bit further, and you’ll see the rest of Forest Park has never looked so good, thanks to the recent completion of several renovation projects. Whether you’re hungover this summer or hosting out-of-towners, there’s a magical hike somewhere in Forest Park.
For those still struggling to let New Portland into their hearts, keep this in mind: A 2017 tax bond funded bridge replacements in the park—including on Maple Trail, opening up the entire 3.5-mile-long path for the first time in years. This hike is smack in the middle of the park, but south of the St. Johns Bridge, so it’s best to enter around Saltzman Road where there’s limited parking. Maple Trail is not a loop, so bring snacks and take lots of photos.
For post-Voodoo Doughnut family hikes, hop on the MAX and take the red line straight to Washington Park, where Wildwood Trail begins. There are informational stops along the walk, benches for family photos, and the trail is paved. It’s the tippity-toppity of what a post-doughnut, downtown-craziness walk-off hike should be, with lots of big fields to run your kids in, a water tower, and just enough walking around to give you an excuse to get more doughnuts afterward.
To treat your inevitable hangover on July 5, this doctor (note: I am not a doctor) recommends a visit with Leif Erickson! Another paved multi-use path, use the Leif Erickson Trail to hike a small loop. (This route’s pretty busy, but you’ll see fewer people if you veer off on Wild Cherry Trail and connect back on Wildwood.)
For trail runners who hate themselves and are seeking the cruelest of challenges, there’s all 32 miles of Wildwood Trail. Pack a playlist with 10 hours of songs that say “run” in them and take TriMet to the far north end of Forest Park at Newberry Road, to the opposite end of the Wildwood Trail mentioned earlier. Yes, the bus ride takes awhile. Yes, this is masochism. So yes, it’s okay if you decide to play Placebo’s version of “Running Up That Hill” on repeat. (Maybe we have that in common?) The north end of this hike is bright, dry, and open, the middle section is windy with lots of small loops and skinny creeks, and the busier south end remains lush and green, with Balch Creek rushing alongside all summer long. If you make it that far, good for you! If not? Reshuffle that playlist, turn around, and hop right on the bus back home.