Forest Park

4099 NW Thurman St
Portland OR 97210
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Opening Hours

  • Mon: 10am-6pm
  • Tue: 10am-6pm
  • Wed: 10am-6pm
  • Thu: 10am-6pm
  • Fri: 10am-6pm

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The largest urban forest in the nation, Forest Park is 5,100 acres of woodland stretching 8 miles along the West Hills of Portland. The City of Portland Parks Department maintains the park's extensive trail system, which offers more than 70 miles of walking and hiking opportunities, as well as bicycle and equestrian trails. While much of the park is covered in second-growth timber, there are a few areas of old growth within it as well. Much of the park features views of the Willamette River, which runs through the city.

Parking and public transportation at Forest Park
Many locals walk to the park, as it borders the city. There is occasionally parking in the neighborhood of Goose Hollow, which is directly next to the park. There is much more parking available just south of Forest Park in adjacent Washington Park, which is also owned and maintained by the City of Portland. Parking fees there are $1.60 per hour between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. or $6.40 for the entire day, April through September, or a flat $4 for the day between October and March. Trimet provides public transportation to Forest Park at many points via its buses or light rail service.

Best and worst time to visit Forest Park
The worst time to visit Forest Park is in the winter and early spring when seasonal rains make trails slippery and difficult to traverse. The best time is summer and fall when trails are more apt to be dry and stable. Locals recommend avoiding the park at night for safety reasons.

Admission to Forest Park
There is no cost to use Forest Park. There is also no charge to participate in semi-regular Forest Park Discovery Hikes offered by the Forest Park Conservancy.

Must see/do at Forest Park
Wildwood Trail, one of the park's many courses, runs the entire length of Forest Park, and offers direct access to attractions such as Washington Park, the Pittock Mansion and Audubon Society Sanctuary. Altogether the trail runs 30 miles as it winds through the forest. However, there are many loops permitting those who don't want to commit to the entire trail to experience portions of it.

Other places to visit at Forest Park
Thanks to its proximity to neighboring Washington Park, Forest Park offers access to a number of local attractions including the International Rose Test GardenPortland Japanese Garden and Oregon Zoo, all of which are situated in Washington Park.

Insider tip for visitors to Forest Park
For those who are new to running on Forest Park's trails, it is easier to begin in the middle and head north or south on Wildwood Trail and thereby avoid extreme elevation gain. On the other hand, those who are looking for steep, uphill terrain should start at either end of Wildwood Trail and connect to Marquam Trail before reaching Council Crest, which tops out at roughly 2,000 feet.

Author's bio: LeeAnn Neal is a journalist, blogger and Pacific Northwest native.