Oregon: Things to See and Do in Portland

Portland’s Forest Park

When in Portland, why don’t you go for a walk in the forest? On the edge of city, within the city limits, is the 5,000 acres of Portland’s Forest Park. It’s one of the largest urban forests in the USA with more than 80 miles of trails and forest roads. This one-mile wide Forest Park stretches for more than seven miles along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains, overlooking north west Portland and the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. The Forest Park offers a chance for visitors to experience a northern American forest of Douglas firs, hemlock and red cedars without the risk of getting lost or meeting hungry wolves, agitated bears or hissing wild cats.

There might not be any large dangerous animals, however, the park does contain over sixty species of mammal, including flying squirrels, gophers, coyote, elk, weasels and bobcats. Blue grouse, hairy woodpeckers, Bewick’s wrens, and many owls like the northern pygmy-owl, the great horned owl and the invasive barred owl, from the east of the U.S., among more than a hundred bird species that have been spotted in the park.

How to get there by bus

The line 16 bus runs from SW Oak & 6th in downtown Portland to NW Bridge Ave & Springville. The bus runs every hour and the fare is around $3.

From NW Bridge Ave & Springville walk for 25 minutes to Forest Park (Approximately 1.3 miles).

Owls perching in the fir trees in Portland’s Forest Park

The Pittock Mansion

Another attraction worth a visit is the Pittock Mansion. It’s an ornate Italianate red-tiled chateau built high above Portland on Imperial Heights in the West Hills, by Henry Pittock, the former owner of the Oregonian, a daily local newspaper first published in 1850, and his wife Georgiana. The Pittocks were one of Portland’s most wealthiest and respected families at the turn of the twentieth century, and Henry was well known in Oregon for being both a publisher and a mountaineer. He was a great outdoorsman and the first man to climb the 11,249 feet to the summit of Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest mountain.

In 1909, when Henry was seventy-three years of age and his wife sixty-four, they hired architect Edward Foulkes of San Francisco to design a 16,000-square-foot mansion in a 45-acre wooded estate, elevated one thousand feet above sea level. The Pittocks moved into their mansion in 1914. Only a few years after crossing the threshold, Georgiana died. Her death in 1918, was followed by Henry’s demise a year later.

Both Henry and Georgiana were Oregon pioneers that endured the hardships of travelling by covered wagon over the Oregon Trail from Missouri. Both had humble beginnings, Henry grew up in the harsh poverty of London’s East End and Georgiana was born on a small farm in Missouri.

Hike through the Forest Park on the Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion

You can hike up through the Forest Park, with its Douglas firs and western hemlocks, and bathe in the temperate forest greenery and the sounds of wildlife. The Wildwood Trail starts across from Cornell Road at the east end of the parking lot. The hike is short, in a partial loop, from the Wildwood Trail and Upper Macleay Trail, and is a two and a half mile round trip with a 450 feet climb to Pittock Mansion.

How to get to Pittock Mansion by bus

Bus number 20 runs every 20 minutes from W Burnside & NW 5th (in downtown Portland) to W Burnside & NW Hermosa. From there walk for 5 minutes up a 1,000 feet ascent to the mansion.

Pittock Mansion Hours

Pittock Mansion, 3229 NW Pittock, Sept-May 10 am-4 pm, June-Labor Day 10 am-5 pm, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas, $8-12 admission

Pittock Mansion - Things to do in Portland this weekend