Author: Justine Cosman, PT, DPT : Doctor of Physical Therapy, Business Owner, Associate Professor, and Blog Contributor. Explores common client questions and helps find solutions for every day functional health concerns, and then some. Loves empowering others, seeking adventure, and learning every day. Learn more about Justine on Google+.
One of the greatest ways to stay active is when you have a set goal or reward in mind - why not make it the natural beauty that is so close for us to tap into? Here are 10 great, not quite as well known hikes that can give you great rewards while promoting great health. Enjoy!
Powell Butte – Easy 1.5-3 miler (200-500 ft climb)
This is one of those amazing hidden gems of South East Portland – a small “mountain” in the middle of a city neighborhood. Parking is available, but sometimes difficult to find – if you circle the base of the butte you will happen upon one of the trailheads (there is construction on the reservoirs that has made it a little more difficult to find these paths). There are 5 different hikes to take. All of the hikes have a gradual incline and you can choose to take steps to ascend to the top of the hill to an old orchard. On a clear day you are able to see Mt. Helens and Mt. Hood peaking into the valley.
Pittock Mansion Hike – Moderate 5 miler (900 ft climb)
When most people think of this location, they think of the exquisite mansion that sits atop Portland. Not everyone thinks of the fun switch-back trail through a lovely lush great forest to the top. I personally find it best to start from the bottom, enjoy a picnic at the top with the views of the city, and then meander back down. If looking for more of a challenge with less “reward,” you can also park at the top and perform the opposite.
Towards the Gorge:
Latourell Falls – Easy 2.4 miler (520 ft climb)
Out in the gorge, it is easy to get wrapped up into going to the famous Multnomah Falls, but after that, it's nice to get a waterfall hike without the crowds of tourists. Latourell Falls is just west of Multnomah Falls on the old highway and is a comfortable hike through lush green to a large waterfall. It has some fun off-spurts that take you onto a ledge overlooking the waterfall or just to the base of it. I actually really enjoy this hike during the rainy season, as it just makes all the green pop!
Mitchell Point – Moderate 2.6 miler (1,270 ft climb)
I may rate this hike a moderate to difficult, merely because of the very steep inclines and the rocky/windy traverse at the top. It is typically overlooked, being farther from Portland, which makes it great because you don’t have to worry about fighting for parking or battling tons of people on some of the more popular hikes. Mitchell Point is a very rewarding hike with great views of the gorge and within close distance to Hood River to stop afterwards for a bite to eat.
Catherine Creek – Easy 1-2.5 miler (50-700 ft climb)
This hike has many scenic views that make it great year round and there are a few different hikes from which to choose, keeping it interesting. In the Spring, the purple crocuses dominate the fields and, if it is a clear day, Mt. Hood is present against this beautiful contrast. Year-round you can enjoy the haunting mossy tree field; bubbling creek; rolling fields with gorge views; or an incredible natural arch.
Hamilton Mountain – Moderate 7.5 miler (2,000 ft climb)
Most people are drawn this direction for Beacon Rock, but often overlook this beautiful state park located just north of the rock (Beacon rock does boast 2 easy trails just under 2 miles that are pretty cool). Hamilton mountain takes you through green forests, over bridges, around 2 waterfalls and has plenty of areas to explore off the beaten path that give breath-taking views of the gorge and Beacon rock below.
Towards Mt. Hood:
Ramona Falls – Moderate 7 miler (1,100 ft climb)
Tucked away near the town of Zig-Zag, Ramona Falls is a great example of the mystifying landscape and, again, numerous falls that riddle the Northwest. In the spring/summer months, a bridge is available over a small river and then you enter different varying landscapes (rocky river cliffs; flat forests; rolling creek beds). In the winter, the bridge is removed, adding to the fun of the hike where you must hop on rocks and logs across. The long distance is definitely worth the falls at that end – absolutely exquisite!
Mirror Lake – Easy 2.9 Miler (780 ft climb)
A great hike for all seasons, although I personally love it for snowshoeing. Mirror lake is a gradual slopping switchback hike that takes your through beautiful evergreens and then opens onto a gorgeous lake that mirror surrounding mountains (unless frozen). It is a great hike to watch the sunrise over the mountains and capture some picturesque moments (as seen above).
Towards the coast:
Fort Stevens Loop Hike – Moderate 10 miler (40 ft climb)
This hike more moderate secondary to the distance, but as you can see there is little elevation. You can choose to do the whole hike, which will bring you around a scenic lake and some of the historic fort sites. Also, whether you choose short or long (depending on where you park), you can also see an awesome old ship wreck on the beach that make for some iconic pictures – especially during sunset.
If you ever have any questions about your health and hiking, feel free to contact us. Otherwise, keep the conversation going and let us know some of the hikes off the beaten path that you have found to be fun and rewarding!
Source (and other great hikes!): http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/