Portland's Green Gems
Just 7 miles southwest of downtown Portland, we visited Gabriel Park. Around 1890, Swiss immigrant Ulrich Gabriel bought this land to tend for his dairy herd and produce his “Pine Creek Dairy” products. Portland purchased the land in 1950, and today, “Gabriel Acres” is a popular destiny for urban explorers who want to escape the crowds. After an easy hike through native forests and hilly lawns, we reached the summit and, despite the clouds, were rewarded with a beautiful view.
Woods Memorial Natural Area
The Woods Memorial Natural Area is another magical woodsy escape in Portland’s suburbs. This 36-acre gem, located 5 miles southwest of downtown Portland, has well-maintained and well-marked trails. The trails were a little slippery since it had been raining a lot. However, the lush green, the stream at the bottom with the little bridges, and the work of art we found – a mandala created from fresh petals of different colorful flowers – made our short walk a pleasant experience.
Maricara Natural Area
Although Maricara Natural Area is surrounded by residents, the short hike through the 17 acres made us believe we were in the middle of nature with a wetland, a stream, and a second-growth forest. It certainly deserves to be named “The Jewel” of southwest Portland.
Tryon Creek State Natural Area
Tryon Creek State Natural Area is 7 miles from downtown Portland and offers up to 8 miles of trails. We combined several trails, including the Terwilliger Trail, Iron Mountain Trail, S Creek Trail, Old Main Trail, Middle Creek Trail, and Maple Ridge Trail. Unfortunately, we did not enjoy the panoramic views due to the sudden downpour. Nevertheless, we now understand why this 658-acre park with lush greenery in the heart of Portland is Southwest Portland’s most visited forested attraction.
River View Natural Area
The River View Natural Area, a 146-acre city park, was heavily logged until the 1950s. In 2011, it was acquired by Portland Parks and Recreation, which began a process of restoration and reforestation. While the park lacked official trails and signage, we explored its wild beauty by following unpaved paths and enjoying the resurgent forest. The park’s transformation is a testament to nature’s resilience, with towering trees reclaiming the land once cleared for logging.
With just 26 acres, Marshall Park is a hidden gem in Southwest Portland. The park was donated to the City of Portland in 1951 by F. C. and Addie Marshall, who had devoted their time and effort to transforming an abandoned quarry into a charming little park for public use.
The park’s centerpiece is the Marshall Cascades, a mesmerizing cascading waterfall in Tryon Creek. The creek tumbles down a narrow canyon, creating a breathtaking spectacle of rushing water and sculpted rock formations. We enjoyed our short but enjoyable walk.