Going outside? Help cut CO2 emissions and avoid paying for gas by using public transportation! Whether you’re sick of your car breaking down, want to avoid dealing with traffic or just don’t have a car, public transit is there for you. This is your guide to getting outdoors by bus, shuttle and train.
Portland’s excellent public transit system provides multiple ways to enjoy the outdoor beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re going to Forest Park, Mount Hood, the Pacific coast or to Washington state and beyond, there is likely to be a bus or shuttle to help you get there. Here are just a few.
Washington Park & Forest Park Washington Park, one of Portland’s most famous and well loved inner-city escapes, is accessible via the MAX blue and red line trains and the TriMet 63 bus line. Wherever you may be in the city, $5 will get you a TriMet day pass and access to Washington Park hiking trails and attractions such as Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden.
A quick trip west on the 20 bus line takes you down Burnside Street to the boundary between Washington Park and Forest Park, the former’s more rugged counterpart. At over 5,000 acres, and with 80 miles of hiking trails, Forest Park allows for an outdoor adventure without the necessity of ever leaving the limits of Portland. The 20 provides access to the Wildwood Trail, the backbone of Forest Park’s many hiking trails, the Hoyt Arboretum and Pittock Mansion. The 16 bus line takes you from downtown Portland to the outskirts of North Portland, providing access to the wild extremities of Forest Park.
Looking for a bit more of an escape from the city? Pack your hiking gear and head to the mountains. The Mt. Hood Express is a bus line that goes east along Highway 26 from the Sandy Transit Center all the way up the slopes of Mt. Hood to the famous Timberline Lodge. It runs seven days a week, and the fare is $2 one way. The bus makes multiple stops along the way, including Mt. Hood Village, Rhododendron and Government Camp, providing excellent access to the many outdoor opportunities along scenic Highway 26. The Mt. Hood Express can be reached from Portland through Gresham and Sandy Area Metro, providing access to many hiking trails and outdoor activities east of Portland.
Trip guide: Take the MAX blue line east to Gresham Transit Center. Take the Sandy Area Metro-Gresham bus from Gresham Transit Center to Sandy Transit Center, and voila. Wait for the Mt. Hood Express.
The Northwest Public Oregon Intercity Transit bus line runs seven days a week between Portland and Astoria on Highway 26, making multiple stops along the way. The bus provides access to Tillamook State Forest, including stops in small-town locations such as Manning and Elsie, before turning along the Pacific coast, with stops at Cannon Beach, Seaside, Gearhart, Warrenton and Astoria. The grand total fare from Portland to Astoria is $18, with lower rates offered for shorter distances in-between. With twice-daily service and free Wi-Fi, this is one of the best bus services running from Portland with access to the great outdoors.
The Columbia Gorge
Columbia Area Transit provides a bus service that runs between Portland, Hood River and The Dalles along Highway 30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays for a fare of $8. The limited service and limited stops of this route makes it better for longer trips into the wilderness of the Columbia Gorge, as the bus runs only once on service days, leaving Portland at 2 p.m. and arriving in The Dalles at 5 p.m.
Finding a Ride
In addition to public trains and buses, there are many private shuttle services which provide tours and access to Oregon’s outdoors for the happy Portlander. If you’re coming up short on TriMet or other public buses, you can also try Amtrak or Greyhound.