Portland sits in the Willamette Valley and although downtown is relatively flat, it is surrounded by foothills and mountains. On clear days, you can see More: The Ultimate Portland Oregon Bucket List. 6. Mt. Tabor Park It’s probably the best spot within PDX to see cherry blossoms. 12. St Johns Bridge at Cathedral Park. 6635 N Baltimore Ave, North Portland.
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Portland sits in the Willamette Valley and although downtown is relatively flat, it is surrounded by foothills and mountains. On clear days, you can see Mount Hood as the focal point but also St. Helens, Adams, Jefferson, and Rainier. We’re pretty lucky that we don’t even have to drive out of the city to have mountain views. Today, we’ve rounded up the best spots we’ve found in the city so far! Keep in mind, you’re going to get more cloudy and rainy days than clear days in Portland.
Whenever there is a clear day, we try to take advantage of it and make it out to one of these spots. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 1. Pittock Mansion is a great spot to , but our favorite part is actually their view of the city and Mt Hood looming over. Can you imagine living in the mansion with a view like this? The mansion itself has limited hours, but the grounds around the house are free to explore and open from 6 AM to 9 PM.
Just walk past the mansion to the far end of the backyard to get the best views of the city. Below is a photo facing east. This is probably my favorite spot to see both the cityscape and Hood. More: 2. Portland Japanese Garden, Washington Park The Japanese Garden is another spot where you’ll find plenty of photo ops within the grounds, but you can also keep an eye out for any openings towards to east to catch views of the city and Hood.
Your best views are at the eastern overlook of the Garden’s pavilion. Local Tip: If you’re visiting in the fall (the prettiest time to visit in our opinion), call ahead to see when the leaves are changing. It typically lasts for only two weeks in October. Clear days are like winning the lottery, but can you imagine Hood being behind the buildings? 3. Both the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Gardens are within Washington Park and very close to each other, so the views are quite similar.
You can see the city skyline from the edge of the garden. Local Tip: June is typically the best time to see the roses. See . 4. Council Crest Park Council Crest Park is a small park with multiple lookout points. This is the highest point in the city and one of our friend’s lives down the street from here.
To the east, you can see Fremont Bridge and the Rose Garden, and on clear days, you can see the 5 mountains in the distance. If you look to the west, you can see miles of greenery and trees. 5. Portland Aerial Tram This commuter tram takes you up to the OHSU Marquam Hill Campus aka Pill Hill, where they have indoor and outdoor observation decks. It’s a commuter tram, so most of the people on it are either going to school or work.
If you’re a tourist, you tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Here, you can see the city, Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, the Willamette River and the bridges along the river. Local Tip: Lately, there’s so much new construction that it’s hard to get views without giant cranes, but it’s still worth checking out. The best light is in the evenings or late afternoon on clear days. When the tram is closed, you can still access the observations decks by car.
More: 6. Mt. Tabor Park Mt. Tabor Park is a huge forested park on top of an extinct volcanic cinder cone. Between the giant Douglas firs, you can see the Portland city skyline and Hood peeking out. If you want more foreground in your shot, check out the reservoirs. Local Tip: The road up to the summit is closed to vehicles on Wednesdays. If you want a 5 min walk up the top go on other days, otherwise take the 2-mile round trip hike for your views.
Also, I imagine you get more of a view when some of the trees thin out during the winter. Light on the city is best in the morning. 7. Rocky Butte Park (Joseph Wood Hill Park at Rocky Butte) If you’re looking for 360 views without many trees blocking your view, this is your spot.
You can see downtown Portland from afar, and also the airport, Fremont Bridge, Columbia River, Hood, Helens, Larch Mountain, and the tip of Mt Jefferson. 8. Eastbank Esplanade Head to the Eastbank Esplanade to get a ground view of the city and the Willamette (btw it rhymes with dammit. If you need help remembering it “it’s Willamette, dammit”). It’s an urban park with long floating walkways, boat docks, walking & bike paths, and public art. Local Tip: Lighting is best in the morning. 9. Downtown Pedestrian Bridges Among all its nicknames, Portland is also known as Bridgetown or Bridge City.
Hawthorne Bridge, Morrison Bridge, Burnside (also has the White Stag Portland Oregon Sign) are just a few of the bridges in downtown that you can walk across. They give you great views of the other bridges and parts of the city. Local Tip: Tilikum Crossing is a pedestrian-only bridge and the only one in Portland. It doesn’t have the best views of the city, but it’s a landmark in itself.
MOUNTAIN VIEWS AND OTHER LANDMARKS 10. Powell Butte Nature Park This is the furthest east of all the spots on this list, but if you make your way up to the summit, it has a great viewpoint of Mount Hood.
You can also flip around to look west towards the city in the distance. 11. Tom McCall Waterfront Park You get less of a city view from this side of the water, but you can see Steel Bridge and Hood on clear days.
It’s also where multiple festivals are held and where you’ll find the popular Portland Saturday Market (mostly popular with tourists). Local Tip: During spring, head north of Burnside Bridge to find cherry blossoms lining the park. It’s probably the best spot within PDX to see cherry blossoms.
12. St Johns Bridge at Cathedral Park St. Johns Bridge is arguably the most picturesque bridge in Portland. It’s the northernmost bridge and the gothic cathedral architecture looks amazing from Cathedral Park. You can get on the ground level to shoot the bridge and then head up the hills and also to the bridge level to get some detailed shots of the spires.
13. The Vista House at Crown Point State Scenic Corridor This is just shy of 25 miles (45 minutes) from Portland and gives you amazing views of the gorge. Local Tip: The best photo of the Vista House and the Gorge IMO is from the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.
More: PDX RESTAURANTS WITH THE BEST VIEWS • Noble Rot ( + ) • Portland City Grill ( + ) • Departure ( + ) • Three Degrees ( + ) • Chart House ( + ) • Il Terrazzo ( + ) • McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside at the Marina ( + ) • Salty’s On the Columbia River ( + ) • Aquariva ( + ) • 10 Barrel Brewing Co ( + ) PDX HOTELS WITH THE BEST VIEWS • Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront ( + ) • The Nines ( + ) • Kimpton Riverplace Hotel ( + ) • The Heathman Hotel ( + ) • The Benson Hotel ( + ) • Hotel Lucia ( + ) • Embassy Suites ( + ) • Paramount Hotel ( + ) • Hotel Rose ( + ) • Hotel Eastlund ( + ) MAP TO HELP YOU GET AROUND ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS • Keep in mind that the PNW brings a lot of cloudy days.
It’s great for that classic moody shot, but not so great for views of the cityscapes and mountains. Don’t forget to check the forecast for the clearest days. Whenever we can see Mt. Hood from our living room, we try to head up to one of these viewpoints. Outside of July, they’re pretty rare. • If you’re shooting from one of the viewpoints and want to capture the mountains with the city, bring a long lens. We always have our with us for these photos.
It will compress the foreground and background so that everything looks closer together and the mountain isn’t a tiny bump in the background. DID YOU ENJOY THE POST? PIN IT FOR LATER ESTHER + JACOB Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally.
They move to a new city every year and currently live in Portland, Oregon. All photos, graphics, and text were specifically created for this blog and cannot be used without permission. This is a for-profit blog and contains occasional affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you.
This does not affect our opinions and we only feature products that we already own or genuinely would recommend regardless of an affiliate relationship. Thank you for supporting Local Adventurer.
Surrounded by the diverse wilderness of ‘s many parks, mountain ranges, and rivers, Portland plays host to many hikes not only within the city’s boundaries but also just a short drive from downtown.
Whether you’re an avid hiker on the lookout for rugged terrain, or just a casual nature lover looking for an escape from the city, read on to discover the best hikes in and around Portland. Hikes Within Portland , a hustling and bustling city set within a stone’s throw from Mount Hood, is a city known for its beer scene, , and thriving cultural vibe. It’s also a nature lover’s town, with the Columbia and Willamette rivers winding through the city and numerous parks and wilderness areas perfect for even the most experienced of hikers.
Tryon Creek Head to a state park located primarily within Portland, for views of urban forestlands and plenty of hiking trails. For an easier hike, make your way down the Inner Loop (1.9 miles), or opt for a more moderate hike on the Outer Loop, which circles around 5.7 miles of the park’s stunning oasis. , +1 503 636 4398 Powell Butte is Portland’s nature area filled with trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Here, take in the scenery of the city amongst the lush natural life while walking along the Powell Butte Loop, a hike around the park and along the vast grass area of the extinct volcano (4.3 miles). , +1 503 823 2223 Forest Park For over 5,000 acres of wilderness, head to Portland’s most popular center for nature, ; fit with dozens of trails for hiking and biking, bird-watching, and large maple trees, Forest Park makes for a perfect escape from the city.
Head down Maple Trail, one of the best hikes in the park, for a tree-filled walk (8.2 miles), or opt for a longer hike from Newton Road to Newberry Road, which heads to the most northern part of the park. Trees in Forest Park, Portland, Oregon | © Adamneil/Good Free Photos Marquam Nature Park boasts over 190 acres of wilderness and over five miles of scenic trails with stunning views of the city.
Head up to Council Crest (3.3 miles) for panoramic mountain views, or take the Park Loop for a tranquil four-mile-long hike. , +1 971 599 3667 Mount Tabor , a 197-acre volcanic park, is home to a dormant volcano that has been extinct for over 300,000 years.
Take a tour of the area, its reservoirs, and the summit of the volcano while hiking along the Blue Trail (3.3 miles), or opt for an easier hike down the Green Trail, which is less than two miles long.
Pittock Mansion Hike The is said to be one of the most memorable hikes in Portland. Head up the Wildwood Trail to the historic Pittock Mansion where you’ll find some of the most scenic views of Portland (five miles).
Hikes Near Portland Sauvie Island is just a short ten-mile drive from Portland. Situated along the Columbia River, this 26,000-acre island is one of the largest river islands in the US, with many hikes through the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area, like the Oak Island hike (2.8 miles) or the longer trek to Warrior Point (seven miles).
Mount Hood National Forest , located only 20 miles east of Portland, is one of Oregon’s most prized, and stunningly beautiful, forests. Spanning over 60 miles of mountains, lush wilderness, lakes, and streams, Mt. Hood makes for the perfect hiking destination. Head down the Tygh Creek Trail for a long, but easy, hike through pine trees (13.7 miles); check out Jackpot Meadows for a more strenuous mountainous hike through winding creeks (six miles); or go for a short five-mile hike to Umbrella Falls.
, +1 503 668 1700 Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon, USA | Public Domain/WikiCommons Oxbow Regional Park is only a little over 20 miles from Portland, boasting over 1,000 acres of wilderness along the Sandy River.
Here, find 12 miles of trails, including the Oxbow Loop, an abandoned logging route that traverses through the trees (5.4 miles). , +1 503 663 4708 Columbia River Gorge The , a canyon and National Scenic Area that covers nearly 300,000 acres of land from the Sandy River to the Deschutes River, makes for the ultimate hiking excursion with dozens of trails from which to choose. For the most difficult, yet rewarding, trek, head up the Rock of Ages Loop (ten miles), a trail that climbs up thousands of feet for scenic views of the gorge and untouched rock formations.
Plus, it’s only 20 minutes outside of Portland. , +1 541 308 1700
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