For such a small city, Portland, Oregon, packs a lot of character — its unofficial slogan is “Keep Portland Weird” — as well as plenty of outdoor activities to keep you fit.
Known for its active and eco-friendly population, Portland holds the title of fourth fittest city in the United States. When you look at the gorgeous nearby parks and landmarks, it’s easy to see why people make such an effort to get outside.
Taking a page from the locals’ book, here are some excellent things to do to stay active while visiting this charming city:
Bike Tour of Downtown Portland
Want to tour the city while potentially improving your health? Make your sightseeing multitask by taking a guided bike tour of downtown Portland. You can get to know the city from the seat of your bike and perform cardio exercise at the same time. When biking at a relatively leisurely pace (approximately 10 to 12 miles per hour), the average American adult can burn upwards of 400 calories per hour. Of course, the more strenuous the effort, the more energy will be expended, but even casual biking can provide heart and health benefits.
Portland is an exceptionally walking and biking-friendly city and many streets have designated biking lanes, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about dodging traffic as you wind your way along the waterfront. If you’d rather blaze your own trail, you can rent bicycles by the hour and explore the city solo instead of taking a tour.
It’s hard to miss the looming peak of Mount Hood, which, with a prominence of 7,706 feet, is visible from many parts of the city. Located just 62 miles east of Portland, Mount Hood National Forest is a popular destination for anyone seeking outdoor exploration.
Hikers will likely enjoy the Timberline Trail, a 40.7-mile path that circles the entire mountain, and the slopes are equally appealing to skiers and snowboarders. Mount Hood boasts the only ski area in North America to stay open 12 months a year, due to the fact that parts of the mountain retain snow throughout the summer. With consistently frosty slopes, you can get your winter sport fix any time of the year.
Kayaking on the Willamette River
Get gorgeous views of the Portland city skyline while working your arms, shoulders, back and core. Kayaking even works your leg muscles as you brace yourself against the boat’s footholds with every paddle stroke. It is an effective way to build overall body strength while improving your cardiovascular conditioning. Also, kayaking is a low-impact activity, making it ideal for exercisers who require minimal stress on their joints.
Outdoor enthusiasts looking for a longer stay on the water can pack up their gear and set out on a four-day kayaking trip. The Willamette Water Trail describes a series of locations along the 187-mile stretch of river that provide campsites and other amenities. The checkpoints make it easy for paddlers to spend the night on the scenic shoreline or stretch their legs as they make their way downstream on this fitness-focused adventure.
With 70 miles of trails spanning 5,156-acres, Forest Park is a verdant haven right next to downtown Portland. In fact, it is the largest wilderness park in the whole United States that is located within a city’s limits.
The park accommodates many different physical activities, making it the place to bring your bike, hiking boots, horse or running shoes if you want to admire Oregon’s native wildlife. The Forest Park Conservancy even arranges free guided hikes led by local experts. They can answer questions like, “What kind of squirrel is that?” or “How high do these trees grow?” — which can be especially fun for inquisitive kids and adults alike.
The Columbia River Gorge
Consisting of a picturesque stretch of land to the east of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge has breathtaking views, swimming and windsurfing spots, and over 90 waterfalls. Spend the day working up a sweat by biking, hiking, swimming, paddle boarding or windsurfing, and then retire to the charming town of Hood River for dinner or a stop into one of five local brewpubs.
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake may be one of the most visually stunning lakes on the planet. While that title is subjective, the fact that Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States is not. The water is shockingly blue, the surrounding cliffs are steep, and the national park offers a wide variety of physical activities for visitors to enjoy.
Whether you’re hiking, exploring the Oregon Caves, swimming, or strolling around the nearby vineyards, there is plenty to keep you moving. Crater Lake is considered by many to be a must-see during a trip to Oregon, but because it’s a four-and-a-half hour drive from Portland, it may work best as a weekend getaway.
If you have an all-club membership and want to fit your regular workout into your trip, be sure to visit any of the five 24 Hour Fitness clubs in the Portland area. The local staff will be happy to accommodate you and give you a warm Oregon welcome.
As you can see, Portland has no shortage of places to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. In fact, it has so many choices as to be almost overwhelming, but any of the destinations listed above are sure to give you an active and memorable Oregon experience.