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THE MOST EPIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES TO TAKE NEAR PORTLAND

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SARAH GROTHJAN

APR 15, 2019

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IMAGE VIA @MHODAPPLE | INSTAGRAM

There’s a reason people are moving to Portland in droves — the metropolis appeals to both city dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

See, in the Rose City, you can have the best of both worlds. Enjoy the tranquility of a short hike to a waterfall only an hour after leaving your downtown office. Take a late-afternoon run under the shade of Hemlock trees before imbibing at happy hour in the Pearl. Adventure is as accessible as funky donuts and craft beer in Portland.

So pack a bag, fill up your tank, and set off to one of the below destinations. You won’t be disappointed.

Note: Due to the Eagle Creek Fire, other acts of nature, or construction, trails may be temporarily closed. Please consult the Forest Service website or this map before venturing out.  

Pack an inner tube and grab your GoPro. You’ll want both for this outing. Punchbowl Falls is a modest yet breathtaking waterfall nestled in the Columbia River Gorge, less than 50 miles from Portland. Hike along a 3.8-mile stretch of the Eagle Creek Trail to the thundering fall and dip your toes in the icy water. Even better — blow up your inner tube and float in the blue-green pool near the waterfall.

This dog-friendly hike is best viewed at sunset, so it’s a good idea to indulge in a coffee beforehand (these spots have you covered). Stroll fewer than five winding miles toward a rocky ridge that offers a breathtaking panorama of the Columbia River Gorge. Pop a squat on the trail’s nearby bench and watch the sun as it fades below the tree line. And a major bonus: just 30 miles from Portland, this hike is a peaceful bookend to a grueling work day.

If the thought of braving a crowded gym sends you into a state of anxiety, swap your indoor sweat session with a climb at Carver. This 80-foot crag is the perfect remedy for the adrenaline junkie — or anyone who needs to break out of a stale gym routine. Carver has more than 300 problems for climbers of all levels. Yeah, it’s safe to say you’ll need to come back again and again.

Sure, you could crash a pool in nearby Tigard (yawn), but you can do that anywhere. Instead, we suggest a clothing-optional dip at one of the local swim spots. You heard that right. Rooster Rock State Park is home to one of two (yes, two) sanctioned, clothing-optional beaches near Portland. Collins Beach at Sauvie Island is another and has the added bonus of nearby berry picking (clothes required).

Grueling work weeks warrant a certain type of adventure — the kind where you put your feet up and maybe close your eyes for a moment. At Bagby Hot Springs, you can do just that. Escape to Mount Hood National Forest for a soothing soak in the middle of a lush forest. These hot springs will melt away your work week stress. We promise.

We dig that Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. It makes cruising around town a cinch. But when you’re looking for something a bit more vigorous than a city ride, turn to Stub Stewart State Park. 34 miles west of Portland, this park boasts terrain only a mountain biker would love. Honestly, these professionally designed trails will put that morning bike commute to shame.

Tranquil waters. Fresh air. The murmur of city life in the distance. Sound appealing? Grab a friend, rent a couple kayaks and head to the Willamette River. You can choose a relaxing float or opt to cruise near downtown Portland. New to kayaking? Opt for a tour or take a class. You’ll be a pro in no time.

When the weather is nice, Portlanders know just where to head for a quick getaway — the river. Take a cue from Portland natives and cool off with a wild ride on the Clackamas River. New to rafting? Enjoy the tamer waters of the Sandy River. The floats are 5.5 miles and 7 miles, respectively. And don’t forget the sunscreen or you’re going to have one ugly life jacket tan.

Who says adventures should be saved for the weekend? With the Pittock Mansion Hike nestled in Portland’s own backyard (literally), you can enjoy an impromptu adventure any day of the week. Stroll 2.5 miles up muddy switchbacks under the shade of Douglas fir and western hemlock trees. You’ll be greeted at the top by the 103-year-old Pittock Mansion, though the real treat is a nearby viewpoint overlooking the entire city. And if you’re in luck, Mount Hood might make an appearance.

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