5 Places to Run In…Portland

The Waterfront Loop in Portland is popular with runners. Joshua Rainey Photography / Shutterstock.com

Home to dozens of elite runners, iconic road races and the headquarters of Nike and Adidas in North America, Portland, Ore., is a serious running city.

The vast amounts of public space, natural terrain and high school and college tracks that are open to the public means there are nearly an endless amount of trails and paths to explore, and miles to log. Here are some of the best spots in town.

Sauvie Island

This large island on the Columbia River, 10 miles from downtown, is super flat and beautiful in a pastoral sort of way, with hills, barns and farmland for scenery. You can add on easily to make it a 20-plus miler. You might see Nike’s elite Bowerman Track Club training here, as it’s one of the team’s go-to spots.

Leif Erikson Drive

Forest Park is a massive natural open space in Northwest Portland, and the 11.2 miles of this trail offers running at its best. The route is beautiful and shaded, with markers every quarter mile.

Wildwood Trail

For a more challenging run through Forest Park, try this hilly, 30.2-mile route that’s also stunning, and provides markers every quarter mile.

Waterfront Loop

The main loop that runs along each side of the Willamette River from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge (with the Morrison and Burnside bridges in between) is almost 3 miles. But now that the Tilikum Crossing bridge to the south—which serves pedestrians, bicycles and public transit but not cars—is open, you can make it longer.

Springwater Corridor

Another nice multi-use, pedestrian path from the south waterfront into wetlands, hills, farms and neighborhoods like Sellwood and even Gresham, 20 miles east. This path is also part of Hood to Coast, a legendary 195-mile relay race that takes place in August.

Bonus! A Few More Spots

Glendoveer Golf Course: Nike’s own high school cross country national championship, NXN, takes place on the muddy fairways of this golf course in the late fall, but there’s also a 2-mile woodchip trail encircling the course that’s open and popular with runners year-round.

Marquam Trail: A hardcore, 6.3-mile trail that snakes through Portland’s steep West Hills, with plenty of switchbacks and climbing and a few footbridges.

Mount Tabor Park: This park has a bit of something for everyone. The lower loops are nice and flat, while a winding route to the top is excellent hill training—and offers a big payoff at the summit with an epic view of the city.

Laurelhurst Park: This tranquil park in one of Portland’s more stately neighborhoods offers a rolling 1-mile loop on a paved, mostly shaded trail.

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