When tour guests asks us, "what one thing should I not miss in Portland," we pick the 4.5- to 5-mile (8-9 km) hike in Forest Park. No matter what the season, hiking in the park is entering another world right on the borders (and through the fabric) of the city.
We offer two daily departures, both with varied terrain and about 900 ft elevation gain. The morning hike is focused around a classic Northwest Portland experience, and ends at the International Rose Test Garden, the Forest Park Experience (9 a.m. to noon). The afternoon hike starts at Goose Hollow, weaves through the neighborhoods and up into the park, the Goose Hollow to the Forest (1 to 5 p.m.). Both pass the iconic spots; Japanese Garden, Pittock Mansion, and Witch's Castle; but take a different approach to the forest.
Being in Forest Park is to be immersed a fluid place that exists both in and out of time. In the forest—within minutes leaving the street—you can forget, or wonder at the fact that you are still in a city.