Forest Park: Boozy Backyard

Skyline Tavern: The Forest Park Block Party

If Pioneer Courthouse Square is Portland's living room, this hideaway is its boozy backyard.

By Kelly Clarke May 15, 2017 Published in the June 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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“To me, the DNA of Skyline Tavern is Forest Park,” says owner Scott Ray Becker.

“Hummingbird,” says the bearded dude sitting at the bar at Skyline Tavern, sipping a Rainier. He jerks his head toward the wide window in front of us. “Hummingbird.”

Outside, a red-breasted blur darts to and fro, dabbing its beak into a feeder, framed by towering Doug firs and a misty sky. It’s peaceful here, aside from the murmur of friends flipping burgers on the bar’s DIY grill or a cheer from the Ping-Pong match on the covered patio, perhaps a battle between bicyclists recovering from climbing Old Germantown Road. If Pioneer Courthouse Square is the city’s living room, this Forest Park hideaway is its boozy backyard.

The humble saloon, hidden along the switchback curves of NW Skyline Boulevard, has operated for nearly a century—mostly as a moldy biker dive. In 2014 it went up for sale: another Old Portland teardown, locals thought. Instead, environmental filmmaker Scott Ray Becker bought it. He spruced up the beer list and added a respectable menu of sausages and panini; more important, he reconnected the bar to its lush, primal surroundings.

“To me, the DNA of Skyline Tavern is Forest Park,” says Becker, who is a trail runner and leads “Moonlight Hikes” between the tavern and St. Johns on warm nights. “The Waterline Trail practically puts you on our front porch.” He excitedly lists his Skyline projects, which include a crosswalk from the bar to the trail entrance, meet-ups for trail runners, and a van dubbed “Sky Tram” that will start ferrying park hikers from the saloon down the mountain starting this summer.

Says Becker proudly: “Bikers, hikers, neighbors, classic car people, old-timers ... a Hells Angel named Animal—here, they all get along.”

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