Hike in the wildest place you'll ever be in a city, Portland's 5,200-acre wood, peopled with ghosts, witches and great stories of the new inhabitants, and the very very old. Hiking on Forest Park's Wildwood Trail is an immersion, what we call "forest bathing," and here we feel the energies of both vitality and stasis. In this fluid place that exists both in and out of time —within a minute of leaving a Portland street — you can forget you are still in a city. We start at Clearing Cafe, a jumping-off point for this 4.5 mile (7 km) hike in this densely forested area that limns the city's northwestern quadrant. We’ll hike up to the quixotic Witch’s Castle. We will tell you how it has gathered its energy in the decades since its damage in the 1962 Columbus Day windstorm, and in the castle, connect to the women whose stories thread through this place. Dark stories filled this place since the beginning of Portland history. From here we head up the hill, stopping to see streams cascading into basalt-lined pools, beautiful moss- and fern-covered Western redcedars and big leaf maples, the towering Douglas-firs. We’ll arrive at the Pittock Mansion to view the city laid out before us before descending into Washington Park, through your choice of secret staircases and paths, or a hike across the brand-new pedestrian crossing over Burnside Blvd - in all about 1,000 feet elevation.
I'm Sarah Gilbert, co-founder of Around Portland Tours and together with my partners & guides Madi, Edwin, Jeri and Jonathan will host the experiences. As a forest witch, I have taught our guides how to honor the energy of a forest and to perform meditation and rituals within it; we'll weave you as guests into the experience we revere as our holy place. I'm a published writer of essays and professional storyteller, and the narrative around which this tour is based is a collaboration between us, writers and route designers, as a movable narrative, what we call place-based storytelling. We bring you to places that we as story creators know intimately and are bursting to share. See what we do on Instagram: @aroundportlandtours We're all dedicated hikers, and our lives are so much better for it. Can we share the love with you?
Our favorite locally-made trail mix is always stocked in guide backpacks.
We bring extra water along, but we encourage guests to bring reusable water bottles and fill up with Portland's delicious tap…
Our tour starts in NW Portland in the neighborhood known simply as "Forest Park" by locals, and steps (literally) off a bridge, descending down into another world, a 5,200-acre forested park. We'll walk the Wildwood Trail, visit the Witches Castle, often see our favorite birds (and harbingers of transformation) at the Pittock Mansion viewpoint, and walk a locals-only path from there to the Rose Garden--one we learned only through dozens of hikes.
Comfortable hiking shoes that can handle occasional mud
The hike is 4.5-5 miles (7-8 km), with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain, with lots of uneven terrain (but nothing technical). The first three miles contain some steep but doable climbs. Most guests in moderate shape find it a fun challenge -- but it can be difficult for less active guests.
Get wild hiking Forest Park's woods