Hoyt Arboretum – Loop Hike
January 6, 2008  |  Hiking, Parks Playgrounds Pools
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Hoyt Arboretum SignWhat’s to Love: The Hoyt Arboretum is one of our favorite hiking locations. If you haven’t visited the Hoyt, you’re family is missing out on some great fun. The trails are well marked and maintained, there are plenty of opportunities for various loop-hikes, and it’s located right near the Zoo, Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and Washington Park. The Arboretum is the showpiece for the entire Washington Park area. What more could you ask for in a destination?

Hoyt Arboretum Parking AreaCertainly, an entire book could be written just about the Hoyt and all the wonderful trees and trails. If you’re a trail runner, this is definitely one of the best spots in town. This entry highlights our favorite loop-hike, because it’s just so convenient with many options along the way.

Stairs up the Overlook hillsideStart the hike in the small parking lot next to the Zoo parking area. You can head either way, but we like to start the hike heading up the Overlook trail, because my son likes to climb the wooden steps. Your kids will probably have fun with this as well.

Take the Overlook trail to the Walnut Trail (go right), the Walnut Trail to a right turn onto the Wildwood Trail, the Wildwood Trail to a left turn onto the Magnolia Trail. The Magnolia Trails goes through a smaller sub-section called, “The Winter Garden.” Follow the Magnolia Trail all the way to the top of the Overlook hill.  Follow the Holly trail to a viewing spot where you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helen’s, and Mt. Rainier on a clear day. The Holly Trail will merge back into the Wildwood Trail, which will take you back to the parking area.

More Stairs!Caveats: During the week, you won’t have a problem with crowds and/or parking issues. However, during the weekend, it’s certainly more of a challenge. Still, there are so many options, and even on the busiest days and times, we’ve been able to enjoy our solitude.

In rainy weather, the trails get very muddy and slippery. Too many people are walking around the puddles, which in turn makes the trails wider and damages the surrounding environment. Bring the proper gear and stay on the trail.

If you’re with toddlers or small children, watch out for dogs. Runners often have their dogs off leash, and our son has been knocked over.

Website: Hoyt Arboretum

Distance from Portland: The Arboretum is about 2 miles from downtown Portland.

Recommended Ages: Great hikes for all ages. If you have small children, you may want to bring a jogging stroller.

Parental Stress Factor: Low stress! If the outdoor world turns off your kids, there are many other options right nearby.

Winter GardenPhysical Difficulty: The loop I described is between 2 and 3 miles, and is relatively easy going. The hike up the Magnolia trail to the top of the Overlook is the most difficult section. If you’re pushing a jogging stroller, it will get you huffing and puffing. However, the Magnolia section is 1/4 mile or less.

Family Fun Factor: Medium to High. If you’re an outdoor adventure family, the Hoyt offers so many opportunities for fun. If your kids aren’t into hiking, bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the view.

Pet Friendly: Yes! This is a great place for dogs.

Weather Considerations: As stated earlier, the Arboretum gets very muddy on rainy days. In the winter months, come prepared for muddy, wet weather.

The Overlook Trail is a paved-pathInsider Info: Along this hike, there are different places to park your car. As you hike in the area, you’ll see the many different parking areas and pull-offs. It still translates to the same loop-hike, but if the parking area by the Zoo is full, there are other options.

Also, if you’re a bit unsure of my directions, or would like a longer or shorter hike, consult one of the maps near the entrance to the Veteran’s Memorial.

Japanese Garden trail is to the leftFamily Tips: If your kids don’t want to hike, or have a breakdown on the trail, head to the Visitor’s Center, or better yet, the huge playground near the Rose Garden. Of course, the family can also head to many other nearby attractions. We’ve had to end hikes early many times. For short hikes, the jogging stroller cannot be beat. I like this over a backpack, because inevitably kids will want to walk and ride at various times. It’s so much easier to just lift them up into the stroller.

Technorati Tags: Hoyt Arboretum, Portland hikes, hiking in forest park, loop-hikes in Portland, max train, overlook trail, wildwood trail, archery

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2 Comments


  1. Hi! Where is the wonderful castle you have pictured at the top of the page?

  2. The castle in the header photo was at Portland Waldorf School during their spring celebration. It's not a permanent fixture. I think they probably rented it.

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