5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Escapes in Portland
We love our home of Portland, Oregon, and we especially love getting outside to enjoy it. (In the summer—aka the dry season—we even get a few extra hours, as our headquarters close at 3 p.m. on Fridays. We call it “Hybrid Friday.”)
In the city with one of the largest urban forests in the country, you don’t need to venture far to escape the bustle of downtown and recharge in nature. (Bonus if you can find a parking spot at the trailhead!) We asked around the office, and here are a few standouts for getting away from it all within an hour of the city and escaping the crowds, too. Plus the shoes our KEEN Garage staff recommends for the adventures.
1. Powell Butte Nature Park
Powell Butte is one of those places that most Portlanders know about but is often overlooked as folks head to the Gorge, Mt. Hood, or Coast Range to be immersed in nature. Once you are there, taking in this natural oasis with big sky views within Portland city limits, you’ll probably find yourself wondering why you don’t come more often—to fly a kite, ride your bike (or your horse), or hike the trails with a view of as many as eight nearby peaks on a clear day. (Pro tip: It’s a perfect spot to introduce hiking to your littlest family members.)
STAFF PICKS: KEEN Voyageur for men and women; KEEN Kids Chandler CNX for kids. These low-profile hikers do it all. And the Voyageur shoe is ventilated, which feels great on the barely shaded trails in Powell Butte.
2. Less-popular hikes in Forest Park
Ridge Trail and Pittock Mansion Trail both offer great vistas and tend to be less crowded than other Forest Park hikes. Ridge Trail is in a quieter section of the park with a view of the picturesque St. Johns Bridge. With 900 feet of elevation gain over 3.5 miles, it’s a bit more challenging but rewards hikers with a view of the picturesque St. Johns Bridge.
STAFF PICKS: KEEN Terradora collection for women; KEEN Targhee EXP for men and women. When light and fast are on the agenda. Both offer styles that can venture into wet conditions with a KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane.
3. Gateway Green
It’s not often that you can exit public transportation and find yourself in the middle of a wild space. But it’s waiting for you roughly ¼ mile from the Gateway Transit Center. Sandwiched between two interstate highways, Gateway Green is an ingenious use of open space that has been turned into a multi-use park with single-track trails for off-road cycling. As you hike or ride around the park through forest and wildflowers, it’s hard to believe a MAX train and highway are just steps away.
STAFF PICKS: KEEN Oakridge shoes for men, women, and kids, or Saltzman shoes for men, as they have a stiffer foundation that’s better for pedaling.
4. Lacamas Lake
Mention Lacamas Lake, and many Portlanders might not even know what side of town it’s on. Tucked away north of downtown Camas, Wash., it’s only about 30 minutes outside the city. The 7-mile Lacamas Heritage Trail is well-liked for its peaceful setting, amenities, and easy parking. The lake is also a great place to bring a kayak or SUP and take in the natural surroundings from the water.
STAFF PICK: KEEN Newport. Part hiking shoe, part water sandal, it’s up for any terrain.
5. Dougan Falls
Located about an hour outside of Portland, this Washougal River swimming hole is well-known to Washington locals, but it’s a bit off the radar for PDXers. Dougan Falls is a refreshing place to cool off on warmer days and picnic or swim in the mountain runoff.
STAFF PICK: KEEN EVOFIT ONE. With its Aquagrip traction and quick-dry upper, this is the sandal to wear to jump in with both feet.
If you find yourself in Portland for a weekend (or longer), stop by the Portland KEEN Garage in the heart of the Pearl District. We can help you find the right fit and a great place to load up on trail snacks before heading to the trailhead or waterway.