Many of us know every twist and turn to the hike at Pittock Mansion or the lower Maplewood Trail or Wildwood Trail — three of the most popular and easily accessible parts of the green Portland oasis we call Forest Park.
Urban adventurers take note: Whether you prefer to walk, run, bike, call birds, spot wildlife or just find solitude in natural surroundings, Forest Park has a lot more secrets to behold.
At 5,157 acres, Forest Park is the largest urban nature preserve in the U.S. But it can also be overwhelming.
So where to start?
Each summer, the Forest Park Conservancy hosts the All Trails Challenge as a way to bring people into the park and start traversing its lesser-known trails, which will take you upon the 30 miles of streams and more than 150 plant and animal species that have survived logging, fires and other threats. Catch sight of a turkey vulture or heron; stop for a snail or salamander; lookout for bobcat and coyotes.
The All Trails Challenge officially runs from June 1 through October 1, but you can register and get started anytime — either as a solo quest or as part of a team with family, friends or coworkers. Collect pledges as you go to raise funds for the restoration and protection of Forest Park.
You can choose from two options, depending how ambitious you are. The complete All Trails Challenge covers all 80 miles of trails, fire lanes and forest roads. If you want to ease your way in, the Wildwood Challenge encompasses 30 breathtaking miles of terrain, ranging from easy to hard.
In 2015, a total of 85 people took part in the Challenge, raising $15,000 for the park. Some take several weeks; some complete the Wildwood Challenge in one day.
Wherever you go, don’t forget your map, and stay current on trail conditions. The Forest Park Conservancy hands an official map to challenge participants at the launch party, and many other resources are available, including a Forest Park app for iPhone.
Now you’re out of excuses. Go get it.