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THE BEST PARKS AND GREEN SPACES IN PORTLAND

12 PLACES

UPDATED OCT 3, 2019

Big city living is fine. But sometimes we need an escape .Whether it's a quick walk or a picnic in the park, there are countless spots nearby that are the perfect place to press "pause."

author

ALYSSA ACKERMAN

FITT PORTLAND CONTRIBUTOR

This Cully gem is off the beaten path and snuggled into the funky farm neighborhood. Swing sets, playgrounds, bathrooms, and a skatepark will keep everyone happy. It’s quiet with lots of parking and only a few blocks from coffee shops and restaurants on 42nd.

How many houseplants have you killed, exactly? Maybe it’s best you just go visit the plants in their own habitat. Get out and explore the thousands of bright blooms in SE Portland. Crystal Springs Lake attracts birds, waterfowl, and nature-loving Portlanders. With over nine acres of park, well-maintained trails, a romantic waterfall grotto, and many great places to sit, this is worth your relaxation.

Gentle rolling hills that weave around a beautiful waterfront, Laurelhurst Park is a stunning site right off of Cesar Chavez. Traced with paved and gravel trails, lots of bikers, runners, and walkers frequent this green paradise… and you should too.

Seeking peace in Portland’s Western Hills? The Japanese Garden is a beautifully-crafted oasis spread over 12 acres. With eight different garden styles, bubbling streams, gentle waterfalls, and a Japanese Tea House, you’re sure to find the zen you’re looking for.

It’s hard to believe that Portland’s beloved riverfront used to be a freeway. This park was named after a former Oregon Governor who was committed to environmental reform and beautification of the west riverbanks. Tom McCall’s is a popular place for jogging, walking, biking, picnics, playing in the water fountains, and lots of events throughout the year.

Was there any doubt that we’d have this park in here? This beautiful nature conservancy is home to over 5,000 acres of lush forest right in NW Portland. This intense escape from the city has over 80 miles of hiking trails. Don’t underestimate the powerful restoration from even a short hike along these trails.

Powell Butte is deep within Southeast but so worth the trip. Walk through the 612 acres of prairie and cedar forest with crystal view of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens on a sunny day. It’s a great place for dogs, and some folks even bring their horses. Whatever you do, wear some sturdy footwear or sneaks — clearly marked gravel trails can be connected into a long run or hike.

Mt. Tabor Park is most mysterious on a cool misty morning. And in a way, it makes you feel alive, as if you were in an eerie thriller movie. Though it’s right off of bustling SE Hawthorne St, the forest is packed with redwoods, spruces, ginkgos, maples, and even some giant sequoia trees. Bright green moss thrives here, and when the fog lifts, celebrate with an impressive cityscape view.

If you’re looking for a view of the city, the bridges, and the mountains, get up to Rocky Butte in Northeast. This extinct volcanic butte is perfect for picturesque picnics in the afternoon or evening. There’s not much for hiking trails, but it’s still worth your time to explore the 2.4-acre flat park on foot.

A favorite SE Portland haven, Sellwood Park is a solid stretch of active green space. This park is sports-forward with tennis and basketball courts as well as fields for softball, football, and baseball. There’s plenty of park to picnic, walk, jog, bike, and climb on playgrounds. Bonus: They have an off-leash dog area, and public bathrooms.

Northeast Portland is home to this 25-acre park, filled with two beautiful ponds, weeping willows, and lots of birds for the watching. There’s a short hike with interpretive signs great for children. And if you’re a paddler, don’t forget your canoe — it’s idyllic when the autumn leaves change.

Kelley Point Park is a North Portland surprise. It’s quiet and forest-y, perfect for long walks on the beach in the rain or sunshine. Riverside trees expose their windy root systems and funky driftwood scatters the sand. And you like river views? Here, you’re at the crossing between the Columbia and mighty Willamette.

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