Washington Park

The Pittock Mansion

Easy (to Burnside footbridge)

4.7-mile loop

500 feet elevation gain

Open all year

Moderate (to Pittock Mansion)

6.3-mile loop

800 feet elevation gain

The walk through Washington Park is a reminder of what’s so wonderful about Portland. What other city would have a forest path leading from a world-class zoo, past a Japanese garden, to a mansion with a mountain view?

This first portion of the famous, 30.2-mile Wildwood Trail begins beside the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial. To get there, take the MAX light-rail train to the underground Washington Park station and ride the elevator up. If you’re driving, head west from Portland on Highway 26 toward Beaverton, take the zoo exit, and park at the far end of the zoo’s huge parking lot beside the MAX station, opposite the World Forestry Center. Parking here costs $2 an hour. Dogs must be on leash.

Walk up the road from the MAX station 300 feet to a sign marking the start of the Wildwood Trail on the left. But along the way you’ll pass the steps for the entrance to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial—and it’s actually more dramatic to start your hike here, going under the memorial’s bridge and following its spiral path up to the Wildwood Trail. From there on, expect trail junctions every few hundred yards. Just keep an eye out for the Wildwood Trail signs. Within 0.4 mile you’ll cross a paved road and pass a huge green water tank to a viewpoint of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Even if the weather hides these distant peaks, you’ll still be able to spot a potential goal of your hike: the Pittock Mansion, atop a forested ridge.

After 1.7 miles on the Wildwood Trail you’ll get a glimpse down through the forest to the Oriental bridges and manicured greenery of the Japanese Garden To detour to this acclaimed 6.5-acre garden, complete with a Japanese tea house, turn right on the Garden Connector Trail for 0.3 mile to the entrance ticket office. Otherwise continue on the Wildwood Trail, which now climbs, crossing several paved roads and a ridgecrest before descending into the Hoyt Arboretum.

Arboretum means “tree museum,” and in fact this entire valley is filled with native and exotic trees. You’ll switchback down through ponderosa pines reminiscent of Central Oregon and then traverse an impressive grove of coastal redwoods and giant sequoias. Then you’ll cross a footbridge over a creek and continue 0.3 mile to Burnside Street, spanned by the spectacular, curving Barbara Walker Bridge. Made of green and brown pipes, the bridge was designed by Portland artist Ed Carpenter to resemble a trail amid sword ferns.

If you’re tired or if you’re hiking with children, turn back here. After returning 0.3 mile on the Wildwood Trail to a junction, turn uphill to the right on the White Pine Trail. Follow this path a mile, cross Fairview Boulevard, and continue back down to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

If your goal is the Pittock Mansion, however, continue past the Burnside footbridge on the Wildwood Trail steeply up 0.8 mile and cross a paved road to reach the mansion’s parking lot. Walk through the portico on the building’s left side to the spacious front lawn where there’s a magnificent view of downtown Portland and the mountains.

The 16,000-square-foot palace was built in 1909-14 by banker, real estate magnate, and Oregonian editor Henry L. Pittock. The mansion was modern for its day, with an elevator, intercom, and central vacuum cleaning. Tours are available between 11am and 4pm daily except in January (adults $12, children $8).

To complete your hike, return on the Wildwood Trail 1.1 mile to the first junction beyond the Burnside footbridge, turn right on the White Pine Trail for a mile, and cross Fairview Boulevard to descend to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

This chapter, updated in 2020, was taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington, updated every year.