I visited a friend who recently moved to Portland for a few days. We did 2 days of hiking and only a few hours of walking around downtown. There are so many great hiking spots in the Portland area, with a bunch concentrated in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Mount Saint Helens

We spent the entire first day on a single hike up to the base of Mt. Saint Helens. While it looks like a short distance from the main visitor center, the trail seems to intentionally take you on the longest route. We choose to take the trail leading up to the waterfall. Overall, I would say there are better hikes than this in the area, so you could probably save yourself the 6-7 hours.

Mt. Saint Helens

Spirit lake

Strange Green Pond

Lowitt Falls

Ape Caves

A series of lava tubes created 2000 years ago, Ape Caves is two separated into 2 tunnels: upper and lower. The caves and pitch black and really cold (42°F). You need to bring lamps and prepare to do some climbing. I tried to take some GoPro footage, but we didn’t have enough light to make it work.

Ape Cave Entrance

Lava Canyon

We stopped for only about an hour at a location nearby Ape Caves called Lava Canyon. It has a suspension bridge and waterfall within the first mile or so of the trailhead. We had so much else to do for the day, we had to keep going.

Lava Canyon

Lava Canyon Bridge

Lower Falls

A lady that worked at a local gas station told us to visit a place called simply Lower Falls. It was only a short drive from Lava Canyon so we made a short visit. The falls are next to a campground and only a short walk in. This was probably the best looking waterfall that we saw - and we saw many.

Lower Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls is a very popular destination. You can see the main waterfall right from the road and they even have a restaurant located at the base. There are trails located behind it and we ended up doing a short loop as fast as we could since the sun was going down.

Wahkeena Falls


The City

We only visited downtown for a few hours, but I’m not really a city person anyway. There was a Saturday market going nearby the center, next to the river.

I also rode the tram which goes from the East side of the river up to the OHSU Hospital. It’s a very modern looking place - as are many of the buildings in Portland.

View from the top of the tram