Nature Parks in Portland, Oregon

Two Natural Areas to Explore Using Public Transit

Visitors to Portland, Oregon, can easily explore nature without a car. The city’s MAX lightrail takes you right to the trailhead of two nature preserves

Visitors to Portland, Oregon, can easily get out in nature using the city’s extensive transit system. If a day of urban adventure leaves you hungry for some of the area’s signature natural attractions, MAX Light Rail takes you right to the trailhead of two large nature preserves that are well worth an afternoon of exploration. Both feature well-maintained easy walking trails.

Hoyt Arboretum is a Museum of Trees from Around the World

Hoyt Arboretum stretches across 175 acres in the heart of the city. On a hillside setting above downtown, the preserve is planted with 950 different varieties of trees from across the globe, including the rare (and gorgeous) dawn redwood.

Trails are named for the families they feature: Cherry, Maple, Dogwood, Magnolia, Holly, and more. A cool stream runs through the conifer section, which includes one of the world’s most diverse collections of firs, spruces, pines, and sequoias, all growing amid native Pacific Northwest trees, ferns, and wildflowers.

To get there from downtown, catch the westbound/Hillsboro MAX and ride to the Washington Park Station situated in one of the country’s deepest rail tunnels. Check out the displays of geological history, and then take the elevator to ground level. Cross the street toward the World Forestry Center and follow the sidewalk up a few yards to the Vietnam Memorial/Hoyt Arboretum sign.

Explore the dogwoods and witch hazels at the memorial and head up the Wildwood trail, which meanders over a hill past two large water tanks. At the Holly Trail, stop for a view of Mt. Hood before turning left and heading down to the Visitor Center where trail maps and additional information are available. Admission is free.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park Offers Forest Walks and Wildlife Watching

Tualatin Hills Nature Park features 222 acres of wildlife habitat about eight miles from downtown Portland.

Five miles of woodsy trails ramble through native oak and conifer forests, around ponds filled with tadpoles and water lilies, past cattail marshes, over creeks and into open meadows.

Look for turtles, blue herons, beaver and muskrat around the ponds. In the forest, watch for blackbirds, flickers, nuthatches, woodpeckers and kingfishers.

A 25-minute MAX ride takes you right to the entry. From downtown board westbound/Hillsboro MAX and ride to the Merlo Road/158th Station in Beaverton. The preserve’s paved entry trail will be on your left, across the tracks. A few yards into the trail is a box with free maps of the park. The paving continues about three-quarters of a mile to an Interpretive Center. The park is open daily and admission is free. Pets are not allowed.

Hoyt Arboretum and Tualatin Hills Nature Park are great places whether you’re on your own or you’re planning a family outing.

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