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Oregon is a stunning state of contrasts - in the west, it has moist rainforests, and in the east, it is arid and dotted with hot water springs. But one needn't go far from Portland to see the stunning outdoors. Forest Park is one of the largest urban forest reserves in the nation and is nested in the Tualatin Mountains, just next to Portland.

For those who have the time, Forest Park is one of the great attractions to include on a Portland weekend itinerary. It has nature trails, a wildlife sanctuary, and more. Portland has plenty of things to see and do; no one needs to be bored while in Portland. There are also many day trips one can take from Portland for a great day out of the city.

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Forest Park - Portland's Massive City Park

The efforts to create a natural preserve in the woods around Portland date back to the 1860s. These effects eventually led to the creation of a city park in 1948.

Forest Park stretches for over 8 miles or 13 km over the hillsides west of downtown Portland. It overlooks Northwest Portland and the convergence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

The park's 5,100 acres are full of trails and things to see. In all, it has around 70 miles of recreational trails. The forest is mostly a second-growth forest, although there are patches of old-growth forest around the place.

  • Length: 8 Miles or 13 Km
  • Size: 5,100 acres or 2,064 ha
  • Annual Rainfall: 40 Inch (1,000 mm)

The park is home to a variety of birds and mammals - in total, there are believed to be over 112 bird species and 62 mammal species calling it home. In the rivers are trout and sea-run species like salmon.

The park is open every day from 5.00 am to 10.00 pm.

Related: New Orleans: Why Exploring Its City Park Is Worth It

Hike The Trails In Forest Park

Forest Park has around 70 miles or 110 km of trails (or over 80 miles counting fire lands and forest roads). It is a popular destination for hikers, runners, cyclists, and equestrians alike. Dogs are also permitted in the park but on a leash.

  • Trails: Around 70 Miles or 110 km

Wildwood Trail

One of the more notable is the 30-mile-long Wildwood Trail. The Wildwood Trail is a segment of Portland's 40-mile Loop system. The Wildwood Trail spans the full length of the park and connects it with the Audubon Society Sanctuary, Pittock Mansion, and Washington Park.

Access the trail just northwest of the Washington Park MAX stations. Hikers don't need to hike the full length of the trail as there are plenty of loop options with shorter paths.

  • Coding: Blue Diamond-Shaped Blazes
  • Length: 30 Miles

The Wildwood Trail is designated as a National Recreation Trail and is marked every quarter-mile by blue, diamond-shaped blazes.

Macleay Park Trail

The most popular trail in the park is the Macleay Park Trail. It is a stunning 5-mile (or 8 km) round trip hike from Lower Macleay Park to the Pittock Mansion. It follows Balch Creek - the largest stream in the park.

  • Length: 5 Miles or 8 Kilometers (Round Trip)

The Macleay Park Trail is easily accessed at the west end of Northwest Upshur Street. Around a mile up the trail, it meets the Wildwood Trail.

One of the noted features along the trail is the ruins of a stone building built in 1936. Locals call it the "Witch's Castle" or "Stone House," - but despite its cool nicknames, it is actually just a former restroom.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Portland Is Like No Other Place In America

Take A Detour To The Wildlife Sanctuary

Just adjacent to Forest Park is the Audubon Society of Portland, it is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation. It was first founded in 1902 and is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the world.

  • Named: In Honor Of John James Audubon - An Ornithologist

The society possesses 150 acres of woodland just adjacent to Forest Park. It is open to the public for free and so is one of the great attractions while visiting Forest Park. It has some 4.5 miles of hiking trails to discover - they are connected with Forest Park's trail system. It can be reached on the Macleay Park Trail.

  • Admission: Free
  • Wildlife: Owls, Red-Tailed Hawks, And More

Visit the nature center in the sanctuary - it has a wildlife taxidermy exhibit, an auditorium, a wildlife care center, and more. It is staffed with more than 100 volunteers and treats over 3,500 annually.