5 Post-Thanksgiving Hikes around Portland
You've spent the whole week prepping the turkey, which turned out dry anyway. You've devoured the mashed potatoes, the green bean casserole, and, of course, the pumpkin pie. You've tolerated your aunts and uncles for about as long as you can. (No, Aunt Cindy, I don't have two black eyes. Those are called bags, and that's just how my face looks.) The holidays can be tough. And if Thanksgiving wasn't enough, we've got other big ones coming our way.
Yes, the gift-giving season is upon us, and post-Thanksgiving typically means Black Friday, our yearly and frankly embarrassing display of first-world consumerism. Skip Black Friday this year and shell out your hard-earned money on the small, local businesses that need it with our annual gift guide. Or better yet, instead of spending the Friday after Thanksgiving trampling over crowds, spend it trekking through a forest or a nature park.
Here are five relatively easy nearby hikes for post-Thanksgiving fun.
Maple-Wildwood Loop, Forest Park
Forest Park's Maple-Wildwood Loop is a stunner during peak fall. By now, most of the big-leaf maples that give this trail its apt name have dropped their gorgeous leaves across this eight-mile lollipop loop, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable, particularly on a moody morning draped in fog. Start at the Lower Salzman Road Trailhead, which is just off a breezy drive along Highway 30. Exit Salzman Road and follow the narrow road up until you reach the trailhead. (Bonus points for spotting the pink bra hanging on a telephone wire.) Portions of the hike can be steep, but it’s a mostly moderate and enjoyable experience trekking through canopies of big-leaf maples, Douglas firs, western hemlocks, and western red cedars. This time of year, the trail is wet and muddy, but a decent pair of boots should get the job done. Check out our other essential Forest Park hikes here.
Ever climb a volcano? If you’ve summited Mount Tabor you have. And if you haven’t, now’s as good a time as any. Take your pup to the dog park at the base of the park (or take them to any of our favorite dog parks) and then make your way up to the summit for pristine views of the downtown skyline. There are three trails at the park ranging from easy (Red Trail) to moderate (Green Trail) to difficult (Blue Trail). Parts of this park can be muddy, but it’s better than trampling through Best Buy to get a half-off TV.
Canemah Bluff Nature Park, Oregon City
There’s lots of wildlife amid this short, relatively easy loop—save for the somewhat challenging Old Slide Trail, a .45-mile unpaved trail that takes you up though shadowed forestlands and gives your thighs a decent burn. With a playground and picnic tables at the entrance of the park, it’s truly a perfect family-friendly hike (you may even spot a few families taking some cute golden-hour photos). The best time to go is when the sun sets over Oregon City. You’ll catch a spectacular view of the Willamette River drenched in an orange-yellow glow. Check out our other recommended nature parks here.
Crown Zellerbach Trail, Scappoose
Stretching from Scappoose to forested areas of Columbia County, the Crown Zellerbach Trail is a friendly year-round trail with a history that harkens back to the early 20th century when it was a railroad line that provided timber for loggers in camps between the Multnomah Channel and the Nehalem River in Vernonia. Now, the Crown Z, open to hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders, snakes through several small communities and parallels the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, allowing visitors to choose the length of their own adventure with numerous entry-point trailheads along the way.
The Other Eagle Creek: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
Former senior editor Ben Tepler wrote about this stellar and secluded hike about an hour away from Portland in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness east of Estacada in the March 2020 issue of Portland Monthly. This Eagle Creek Trail, he writes, offers a polar opposite from the heavily-trafficked Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, offering a “wild, cathedral forest with scarcely another human in sight.” Expect significant elevation gain (about 2,300 feet) during this out-and-back trail, the distance of which can vary depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. Hikers can turn back at any point, or make for a campground alongside a creek about three miles in. Those with a yearning for a backpacking adventure can continue up the creek toward the Eagle Creek Cutoff Trail for even more fun.
Old Salmon River Trail, Welches
This two-mile jaunt along a stream in old growth forest is just over an hour outside of Portland. It runs parallel to Salmon River Road south of Welches, and offers five different trailheads to pull off and start hiking. Though the trail is close to the road, the sound of the rushing Salmon River blocks out any potential noise from traffic. Because of its gentle grade and lush scenery, Old Salmon River Trail is a popular spot for families and hikers with dogs. Hit the trail in the early morning if you’re looking for a solitary ramble through the woods.
Free parking at Oregon State Parks
Black Friday is also synonymous with free parking at state parks and recreation sites across Oregon. While most of the state's nearly 200 parks are free to use, 25 popular destinations—such as Smith Rock, Milo McIver, and Silver Falls—charge $5 for the day. Skip the pay station and celebrate the 100-year-anniversary of Oregon State Parks on "Green Friday."