Parks and Fountains
Over 200 city parks!
Wherever you go in Portland, you are never far from a park. Portlander’s love to weave open, green spaces into the urban landscape. Couch Park (pronounced “cooch”), right across from the hostel, is a little neighborhood park with lovely trees. It draws many neighbors, especially in the summer time when free concerts are happening. If you need to cool off in the summer, you should check out the many fountains that Portland’s parks offer. Where other cities try to keep you out of them, Portland designs them to go in! Ira Keller Fountain in downtown, for example, offers different waterfalls and pools and you’ll find locals eat lunch, talk with friends, read, or roll up their pants to wade in the pools.
Forest Park & Audubon:
Right here in our neighborhood, Forest Park is the nation’s largest natural park within a city. The forest wilderness includes 5,000 acres, more than 50 miles of trails and 30 miles of gated roadways for hiking and biking along Northwest Portland’s Tualatin Mountains. From the hostel, head to NW 23rd Ave. and turn right. Left on Thurman St., right on 28th, left on Upshur. When you hit the McClay Park follow the trail to the left under the bridge. This trail follows a fast moving creek and within a few miles leads you to Portland Audubon. Visit their Wildlife Care Center, the busiest wildlife rehabilitation center in Oregon.
Home of the Rose Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, World Forestry Center, & Children’s Museum. It’s a huge park! From the east end you can easily explore the Rose Gardens, with an incredible post card view of the city and Mt. Hood, and the Japanese Gardens (admission). To reach the other attractions of the park, catch the park train at the far end of the Rose Gardens or head east to SW 18th and take the MAX light rail west to the zoo stop. You can also walk along the park roads following signs to the Zoo (admission), etc. The hiking trails in Hoyt Arboretum (west end of the park) are quite amazing with city views and a beautiful forest.
The park runs for a few miles on the westside (Downtown) of the Willamette River. The north end of the park is home to the Saturday Market. As you head south, head west to Naito Pkwy @ SW Taylor and have a look at Mill Ends Park, the world’s smallest park, if you can find it! Continuing south you’ll come to the Salmon Springs Fountain, a fun place to cool down in the summer. Pass under the Hawthorne Bridge and you’ll come to a large grassy bowl, where the nationally known 4th of July Blues Festival is held. As the walkway leaves the park, you will pass in front of a row of shops and restaurants. McCormick’s and Schmick’s is a fancy steak and seafood restaurant worth a try. They are found in other US cities, but these 2 guys got their start in Portland! If you can’t splurge, they do have a happy hour from 4—6pm.
This huge island 10 miles northwest of Portland has one of 2 Portland clothing optional beaches along the Columbia River. Nude volleyball is popular. The island is a stopping point for thousands of migrating birds. It has hiking trails and great waterways for kayaking. At Halloween time, be sure to go the Haunted Corn Maze (admission) on the island. Beware, the public bus drops you on the near side of the island. Beaches are another 9 miles.
Only 1 block from the hostel, this urban park has basketball courts, open spaces for playing Frisbee or enjoying a nice picnic lunch. Couch park also has a playground and some nice pieces of public art. Free community supported concerts every Tuesday in August!!
Portland’s Mt. Tabor was named after another Mt. Tabor, which sits six miles east of Nazareth in Israel. Our Mt. Tabor makes Portland one of only two cities in the continental U.S. to have an extinct volcano within its boundaries; the other city is Bend, Oregon. The volcanic features of Mt. Tabor became known in 1912, years after Mt. Tabor became a public park. The volcanic cinders discovered in the park were later utilized in surfacing Mt. Tabor Park’s roads. Mt. Tabor now contains a permanent exhibit of the volcanic cone from which the cinders were obtained. The park also lakes. Take a hike to the top and enjoy a gorgeous view of Portland from the Eastside!
Council Crest is the highest point in Portland. From the top of the hill, one can see five mountains in the Cascade Range: Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier. In addition, the park boasts a fantastic 180 degree view of Portland and surrounding towns. In July 1956, a bronze drinking fountain featuring a mother and child was installed in the park. In the 1980s, the statue was stolen in the middle of the night by vandals who used hacksaws to dismantle it from its base, sawing through the mother’s ankles. Nearly 10 years later, during a narcotics raid on a home in northeast Portland, officers found the rusty statue in the backyard under a cover. The statue was re-erected in the park.
Smallest Park in the World
“In 1948, a hole was cut through the sidewalk at the corner of SW Taylor St. and SW Naito Pkwy. (Front St.). It was expected to accommodate a mere lamp post, but greatness was thrust upon it. The streetlamp was never installed, and the 24-inch circle of earth was left empty until noticed by Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal. Fagan used his column, “Mill Ends,” to publicize the patch of dirt, pointing out that it would make and excellent park. After years of such logic-heavy lobbying, the park was added to the city’s roster in 1976. At 452.16 square inches, Mill Ends Park is officially the world’s smallest. Locals have enthusiastically embraced it, planting flowers and hosting a hotly contested snail race on St. Patrick’s day.” (Let’s Go: Alaska & the Pacific Northwest, 2002
The park is full of large waterfalls type fountains and wading pools. An entire city block of waterfalls. Roll up your pants and cool your toes, they are designed to go in.
Rose Quarter Fountains, Rose Quarter Arena
Take MAX to first stop on east side of river. Two large fountains shoot water and fire,
while the sidewalk spouts hundreds of spurts of water in patterns.