Forest Park and St. Johns in Portland

Looking for a hike close in to the city? One with wooded trails, views, and even a park? Look no further than Forest Park, the largest park in city limits! For a fun trip, I recommend starting out on the East side and checking out Cathedral Park, underneath the St. Johns bridge. From there, head across the bridge and take in the amazing views of the Willamette river and Portland. On the West side, you will quickly see an entrance to the vast Forest Park. Go in as far as you like to see wildflowers, 19+ wooded trails, and views of the St. John’s bridge.

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Rachel Lake

Rachel Lake is one of my favorite hikes, and my favorite camping spot. While located in the neighboring state of Washington, this trip is too good to miss! Rachel Lake is an alpine lake at over 4000′ in the Snoqualmie Pass area.

This hike involves 4 miles uphill to the beautiful lake, passing waterfalls, streams, meadows, forests, and stunning views on the way. It is a moderately challenging hike, taking 2-3+ hours to reach the summit, but is also suitable for beginner hikers. There are camping sites at the summit and access to the (very cold) lake. A great summer hike!

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Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Looking for a great wetland to explore close in to Portland? Want to do some birding nearby? Or are you looking for a hike that is easy to bike to from central Portland?

Find all of this and more at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Portland’s first protected wetland, the refuge is on the east side of the river near Sellwood. It is a nice walk or short bike ride from Portland via the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater Corridor paths. Here you can explore over a mile of trails surrounding the shallow lake, and see tons of birds while you’re at it. 

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Gold Beach

If you are planning a trip to the southern Oregon coast, Gold Beach should be one of your first stops! Gold Beach is south of the Shore Acres/Cape Argo Hwy area and just slightly north of the California border. This small town is home to several beautiful beaches, as well as the coastal outlet of the Rogue River. With mild weather year round, this small community is the perfect place to spend a day exploring beaches and enjoying ocean views. P1020957

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Shore Acres/Cape Arago Hwy

One of the best places to visit along the Oregon Coast is the Cape Arago Highway and Shore Acres State Park. This area is about 15 minutes south of the city of Coos Bay and provides great paths and stunning ocean views. It is a beautiful place to visit, especially in the summer. There are dozens of view points where you can see seals, seal lions, ocean birds, and even whales!

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Jackson-Frazier Wetland

Its the season to visit wetlands! The Jackson-Frazier wetland, a small preserve in Corvallis, Oregon gives you a great reason to take a short hike. The park contains an almost mile long loop of boardwalk to provide unparelled access to the wetland habitat. Expect to see tons of wildlife in this beautiful area including birds, nutria, and even snakes!

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Jackson Bottom

The Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is a great place to visit for an hour or two walk near the Hillsboro area, southwest of downtown Portland. It is a very easy Oregon Hike, with no elevation gain, but the paths (3 miles) will take you through some very beautiful wetlands.

During the winter time, it is possible to see dozens of nesting wetland species, when the trails are not flooded. During the summer, the wide open wetland expanse is a great way to take in the sun! This is another must for those into birding, and also perfect for kids. Be sure to check out the Wildlife Education center on site! 

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Dog Mountain: A beautiful view

While not officially an “Oregon Hike”, Dog Mountain is just over the northern border along the Gorge, near the town of Stevenson, WA. If you are looking for a more challenging hike, this is a great choice. It is a 7 mile trek up the mountain and back, though there are lower viewpoints as well as those at the summit. It will take several hours to get to the top and it can be somewhat treacherous in the Winter. But the view of the Gorge is amazing! Also be sure to check it out in the Spring-Summer for beautiful fields of wildflowers.

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Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge

Taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 and 12-50mm lens

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is a small park that contains 1 mile of easy hiking trails in the Winter, and 4 miles in the Spring and Summer. The paths are flat gravel and and will take you through a growing oak savannah, as well as through a small forest, ending at the wetland oberservation deck. There are hundreds of bird species to be seen here, especially in when nesting in the Winter. The Refuge has a newly constructed wildlife center with exhibits, gift shop, and a spotting scope to use. If you’re a fan of birds, its a must see! Really good for kids as well.

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Finley Wildlife Refuge

The Finley Wildlife Refuge is a short drive South of Corvallis and is a great place to check out on a nice day! The refuge is a nesting ground for Canadian Geese, and you can drive or walk past fields of thousands of them during the right season. There are tons of large gravel paths and driveways to walk along, through large fields and ponds. There are also trails through the woods and an even a visitors center. It is a good place to hike if it is a sunny day and you don’t want to be stuck in the shady trees. I also recommend finding some cattails like the one pictured below – they will create a blizzard of fluff!

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