Oregon weather is inconsistent to say the least, which makes it doubly important to enjoy its incredible outdoors when the sun finally shows its face. Get out of that dusty dorm room and stretch your legs in one of these parks.
For noobs and nonlocals, let’s start with the big hitters close to campus: Forest Park and Washington Park.
As the largest urban forest in the United States, you can get lost in here as if the nearest city was 50 miles away. Forest Park caters to hikers, bikers and equestrians in an environment mere minutes from downtown Portland with operating hours from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (although you might want to take off earlier if you’re near the Witch’s Castle at the junction of Wildwood and Lower Macleay).
If getting around is a pain in the ass, Washington Park’s your answer to easy transportation. With a direct stop off the MAX blue and red lines, there’s no reason not to check out this outdoor staple. Notable features alongside its sprawling trails include a vast arboretum, the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a rose garden, amphitheater, archery range, and if the weather turns to shit, museums and an easy escape back on the MAX.
For you hip East Portlanders:
Mt. Tabor City Park
An outdoor getaway entrenched right in the thick of urban living, Mt. Tabor appeals to active city dwellers, families and picnickers. A volcanic cinder cone, you’ll get your workout with sloping trails and views to match. At the summit stands a bronze statue of Harvey W. Scott, editor for the Oregonian in the late 19th century, which might appeal to, well, people who read newspapers. Hey there.
Powell Butte Nature Park
If you’d rather get away from the crowds and city surrounding of Mt. Tabor, consider heading further east to Powell Butte Nature Park. Clearly marked trails and an open sky offer casual hiking with great views of the mountains. The trails are well-maintained here, making it a great spot for biking and jogging.
Want to get the hell out of town?
Unless you’re devoid of a soul, this place is goddamned breathtaking. At the base of Mt. Hood, Trillium Lake is a gem of a getaway with activity in and around the water. A multitude of campgrounds near the lake allow for long weekend excursions, which you should definitely take advantage of.
Ecola State Park
Far out in the opposite direction, the Oregon coast offers a landscape vastly different than the packed sandy beaches so often filmed in California. The Needles and Haystack Rock jut out from the water for striking panoramas from the vantage point of the park’s hiking trails. Photographers delight in the abundance of elk and the now defunct Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.
Now get outside, you skinny pale dweebs!