City Cast

Backpacking? Try These Trails Near Portland

Rachel Monahan
Posted on September 12   |   Updated on September 15
river with trees on both sides

Check out the Salmon River and trees in Oregon's Mt. Hood National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service - Pacific Northwest)

Portland was just named one of the best hiking cities in the country. (Honestly, no surprise there!)

For the final weeks before the rain starts, we wanted to share a list of favorite hikes with you all. We've shared this list before, but here it is with a little more detail.

If you’re looking for inspiration for getting out for a couple of days of backcountry hiking, we have some trip ideas for you. Karrie Carnes, a volunteer ambassador for the women’s outdoor empowerment organization, Women Who Explore, recommends her favorite backtripping trips at each level.

One word of caution she offered: difficulty level is highly subjective, but it depends on access to water, elevation gain, and length of travel, among other factors.

Where: Mount Hood National Forest

Why: “It’s awesome: Salmon River Trail is beautiful. It's up in Welches. And maybe it's first of mind because I've hiked it so many times.

Notes: Campsites are first come, first served.

Other easy trails to consider include Lower Twin Lake, Shell Rock Lake, and Timothy Lake. Those are also all in the Mount Hood National Forest.

Intermediate: Silver Star

Where: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Southwest Washington)

Why:  “Gifford Pinchot isn't as populated and inundated and so if you're like me and you want to be in nature and not see other people, which is the allure of backpacking, then then maybe you might find yourself seeking out Gifford Pinchot over Mount Hood.”

Notes: You may need to carry your own water. It’s more of a challenge to find and makes for a heavier pack.

flowers line the trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest, with Mt. Hood with less snow

Flowers line the Timberline Trail, with Mt. Hood in the background. (U.S. Forest Service - Pacific Northwest)

Where: Mt. Hood National Forest

Why: “This is very popular — super popular — so some people might be like, why is she saying the popular things? It's about 40 miles circumnavigating Mount Hood. There's beautiful wildflowers. You cross a lot of streams, so there's ample water.”

Notes: This hike is “no joke.”

More Resources

The group she’s an ambassador for, Women Who Explore, has a national website and a local Facebook group.

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