If you're visiting Portland for the first time or just need a break from the city, you need to check out Forest Park located to the west of Downtown Portland. Stretching over 8 miles, Forest Park is one of the largest natural forested parks in America. You can access the over 80 miles of trails from numerous locations.
One of my favorite trailheads is Lower Macleay Park because it's right in the fun Nob Hill neighborhood of NW Portland. The trail features wooden bridges, lush mossy forest, a delightful creek and lots of wildlife. Once you park, walk toward the trailhead and under the Thurman Street Bridge. You'll see some sculptures and signs explaining more about Forest Park and all of the trails they have to offer.
Once you're on the trail, head up about a mile and you'll run into the old Stone House. From here, you'll hit Wildwood Trail and can take this all the way up to the famous Pittock Mansion. You will have to pay to enter the mansion, but walking around the grounds you'll have an amazing view of downtown Portland and Mount Hood.
The trip to Pittock Mansion is about 5 miles round trip, so once you return to your car, you can enjoy the local area restaurants and bars including Raes Lakeview, Slabtown Ribs & BBQ, Industrial Cafe and Saloon, Meriweathers and more.
For more information on Forest Park: http://www.forestparkconservancy.org
Directions on how to get here:
From the north: Take I-5 south to 405 south, go over the Fremont Bridge and take Highway 30 west towards St. Helens, and exit immediately at Vaughn Street. Turn left at the first light onto NW 23rd, then right onto Thurman Ave. Turn right on NW 28th, then an immediate left onto Upshur. The park is 3 blocks up at the end of Upshur.
From the south: Take I-5 north to 405 north, and exit for Highway 30 west towards St Helens, then take the first exit at Vaughn Street. Turn left at the first light onto 23rd, then right onto Thurman Ave. Turn right on NW 28th, then an immediate left onto Upshur. In about three blocks, Upshur ends at Lower Macleay Park.
Parking can be difficult here, but you can park on the streets around the entrance of the park or up on Thurman Street near the bridge where you can access a stairway to bring you down to the park.