Our 10 Favorite Portland Dog Parks

With 33 patches of off-leash, dog-friendly romping zones in city parks, how do you decide?

By Rachel Ritchie, Gabriel Granillo, and Fiona McCann

A map of Portland dog parks reveals an embarrassment of riches for our canine residents. Indeed, with 33 patches of off-leash, dog-friendly romping zones in city parks, Portland makes it easy to give your pup a good workout—and some much-needed QT with other canines. Grab that Chuckit, and give these 10 favorites a spin.

Chimney Park

9360 N Columbia Blvd | 18 acres | Fenced

Once the site of the city’s incinerator, Chimney Park boasts an entirely fenced off-leash area encircled by a convenient woodchip walking path. Large trees offer plentiful shade, and picnic tables make for ideal spots to sit and watch as your pooch befriends the inevitable herds at this very social park.

Council Crest Park

SW Council Crest Dr | 44 acres | Unfenced

At 1,073 feet above sea level, Council Crest is one of Portland’s highest points. It also happens to be a lovely destination for a day with your dog. A two-acre off-leash area provides incredible views of Portland and beyond, not to mention stunning sunsets, walking paths, and a level of solitude seldom found in dog parks.

Fernhill Park

NE 37th Ave & Ainsworth St | 27 acres | Unfenced

Notable for its gently rolling hills and diverse trees, Fernhill is a favorite for dogs that need to run, run, and run. It also offers plenty of action for your human family, from playgrounds and picnic areas to horseshoes and tennis courts. Just heed the cement posts marking the off-leash zone—park rangers have been known to patrol the area.

Gabriel Park

SW 45th Ave & Vermont Street | 90 acres, with 1.5-acre off-least areas | Fenced

Sorry, no small dogs allowed at Gabriel Dog Park, which has two separate areas for summer and winter play. But if your dog is sociable and loves to run around then this popular park is for them. Just be mindful of any aggressive behavior your dog might display and remember to pick up after your dog, as half of the reviews of Yelp and BringFido mention “do-nothing” or “yuppie” owners. But if you find yourself tired of the dog park, strap that leash on your dog and explore Gabriel Park’s Nature Patch, skatepark, and community garden.

Irving Park

700 NE Fremont St |16 acres, with small off-leash area | Unfenced

Size isn’t everything, and while Irving Park’s off-leash dog area may not be the largest—the entire park encompasses 16 acres, though—it’s a prime social spot for neighbors and pooches alike. This unfenced park also shares space with a basketball court, baseball field, tennis courts, and a kids playground with water features, so your canine companion can wander the winding paths for some people watching before letting loose on the hilltop.

Laurelhurst Park

SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd & Stark St, Portland | 32 acres, with 1 acre off-leash area | Unfenced

Pups love this park, as do peeps, for its winding paths circling a duck pond, which served as a watering hole for cattle and a swimming hole for children back in the early 1900s. Don’t go swimming in there now. But do let your pup roam around its large off-leash area. Be mindful of joggers, bicyclists, and even ambling ducks nearby, as the off-leash area is not fenced. Fresh water is available at the park, but bring your own doggie bags.

Mt. Tabor Park

6336 SE Lincoln St | 200 acres, with 4-acre off-leash area | Fenced (sort of)

OK, so this dog park at the base of Mt. Tabor isn’t totally fenced off (so keep a watch eye on your excited pups), but it’s got plenty of nature, nearby trails, and, of course, mud—but your pup won’t mind that. After your dog has had its fix running around the four-acre off-leash area, put that leash back on and take them up to the summit of the volcanic cinder cone for more trails and stunning views of the downtown skyline and the West Hills.  

Sandy River Delta

Crown Point Hwy, Troutdale | 1,400 acres | Unfenced

Simply known as “Thousand Acres” to the initiated, the Sandy River Delta Recreation Area is a utopian dreamland for Portland-area pups. The whopping 1,400 acres of open fields and wetlands bordered by the Columbia and Sandy Rivers provide almost overwhelming opportunity for fetching, splashing, swimming, and running wild. The area is also a popular birding destination, and home to artist Maya Lin’s elliptical Bird Blind, an environmental installation dedicated in 2008 as part of the Confluence Project.

Sellwood Riverfront Park

SE Spokane St & Oaks Pkwy | 8 acres | Unfenced

It can be tough to find a good spot for a swim in Portland. But, skirting the Willamette River just south of Oaks Amusement Park, Sellwood Riverfront Park offers the solution. Sure, the grassy area is quite nice, but dogs run the show on the shoreline here, sprinting the beach, gamely fetching tennis balls in the river, and threatening to drench just about every human visitor on this stretch of sand.

Willamette Park

SW Macadam Avenue and Nebraska Street | 26.85 acres | Off leash area is fenced

This waterfront park is a pleasant on-leash stroll, beloved for bird spotting, boat watching, and occasional beaver sightings. There’s a pretty waterfront trail that takes you past plenty of greenery, but off-leash time is now relegated to a smaller, fenced area at the north end of the park. Though often dusty and occasionally chaotic, it’s a regular dog party in this enclosed area: the largest of the species may not always find the necessary space for a full gallop, but the littles can rip it up to their heart’s content.

Editor's note: A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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