The rain has finally started to slow and it is time, once again, to enjoy the product of all those wet,grey sky-ed days:  Green EVERYTHING. Wildflowers.  Rushing streams.  Cool, fresh air.  What better way to spend some free time than out exploring the beautiful northwest (or as my Oregon license plate proclaims, the “Pacific Wonderland”)!  Not only is nature a wonder to marvel at, spending time outdoors is scientifically proven to release stress, and improve mood.  It boosts our Vitamin D levels (essential to our immune systems), promotes eye health, is good for the lungs, improves sleep – the list goes on and on.  Even a light walk has immense health benefits.  Here are a few spring hikes in the Portland area worth checking out this season!

Angel’s Rest 

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Angel’s Rest is an exposed bluff on the Western end of the Columbia River George. This summit is characterized by a long, rocky spine surrounded on three sides by cliffs, boasting a striking 270 degree view! While you can’t see any of the Cascade volcanoes from the top, you do get great vantages of Beacon Rock, Silver Star Mountain, and many other landmarks.

Distance: 4.8 Miles Roundtrip

Distance from Portland: 40 Minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

 

The Wildwood Trail – Forest Park

7174013654_00ee4beee7   The Wildwood Trail begins in downtown Portland and spans 30 miles throughout Forest Park.  An abundance of wildlife can be found in Forest Park — the largest urban park in the country. Forest Park’s extensive system of trails, fire lanes and roads provide excellent opportunities for hiking, walking, running, and simply escaping the urban atmosphere.

Distance: 30 miles point -to- point

Distance from Portland: 0 Miles!

Difficulty:  Easy

 

Horsetail Falls

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Ponytail Falls

This is a stunning low elevation loop in the Columbia River Gorge. In literally a few steps, you leave the modern freeway noise and enter a different world.  There are views of three waterfalls and a couple of views of Oneonta Gorge. The trail begins in one of the most scenic trailheads anywhere, at Horsetail Falls. The Horsetail Falls Trail (#438) continues for 2.8 miles, passing under Ponytail Falls, and then crosses Middle Oneonta Falls. 

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Middle Oneonta Falls

 

Distance: 2.8 Miles

Distance from Portland: 45 Minutes

Difficulty:  Easy

 

Mist Falls

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This hike is an odd mix of easy and difficult; it’s very short, but also very steep, with loose rocks in places. This is definitely a hike for good boots.

Distance: .6 miles

Distance from Portland: 40 Minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

 

Dog Mountain

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On the Washington side of the Gorge, Dog Mountain is a favorite of many.  The steep climb is difficult, but worth the amazing views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and the tip of Mt. Hood peaking over Mt. Defiance.  Dog Mountain is famous for its abundant wildflowers in springtime – the upper meadows of the mountain explode with colorful wildflowers in May and June.

Distance: 7 Miles

Distance from Portland: 1.5 hrs

Difficulty: Difficult