Best Places to Run in Portland: Top Routes for Every Runner

Portland, Oregon, is famous for its vibrant running community and plethora of scenic trails, making it an ideal destination for runners of all skill levels.

The city boasts lush greenery, as well as picturesque waterfront paths, creating an inviting atmosphere for those looking to log miles while admiring the natural beauty of the area.

With so many options to choose from, finding the perfect route can be overwhelming, but luckily, there are standout locations that have captured the hearts of both locals and visitors alike.

One of the premier running locations in Portland is Forest Park, a vast and tranquil oasis that features diverse terrain, suitable for beginners and seasoned runners alike.

Another popular choice is Washington Park, a splendid urban escape encompassing various attractions, such as the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden, which provide a stunning backdrop for a fulfilling workout.

The Waterfront Loop along the Willamette River offers lovely views and a flat, paved course that attracts many runners throughout the year.

Sprawled across Portland are numerous other trails, paths, and parks catering to various tastes and skill levels, ensuring that no two routes are the same.

From wooded areas filled with towering trees to urban landscapes showcasing the city’s architectural marvels, Portland has a running route for everyone.

Top Portland Running Trails

Portland, Oregon is a beautiful city that offers a variety of running trails for enthusiasts of all fitness levels. Runners can enjoy scenic paths along rivers, through parks, and in residential areas.

In this section, we’ll explore a few of the top running trails in Portland and their unique features.

Forest Park

Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States, covering more than 5,000 acres. The park offers numerous running trails, with the Wildwood Trail being one of the most popular.

This expansive 30-mile trail runs the entire length of the park, offering challenging terrain and beautiful views for both experienced and beginner runners. Runners can also enjoy the Leif Erikson Drive within Forest Park, which is a 16.7 km trail, ideal for a shorter run.

Waterfront Loop

The Waterfront Loop is a scenic path along the Willamette River, offering stunning views of the cityscape and water.

This approximately 2.5-mile loop consists of paved pathways on both sides of the river, providing a flat and enjoyable course for runners. Runners can traverse the Hawthorne Bridge and the Steel Bridge, making this a popular route for both local and visiting running enthusiasts.

Terwilliger Boulevard

Terwilliger Boulevard is a popular running route with treelined, rolling hills in a mostly residential area. Spanning approximately 4 miles, this route boasts picturesque views of the Willamette River and downtown Portland.

Terwilliger Boulevard is an ideal option for those looking for a more moderate workout with gentle inclines and declines.

Hawthorne Bridge

The Hawthorne Bridge is a historic bridge in Portland and stands as one of the city’s iconic landmarks. Crossing the Willamette River, this 1,391-foot-long bridge offers a pedestrian path for runners, providing a fantastic vantage point to take in the city’s majestic skyline.

In conclusion, Portland is home to numerous running trails that cater to a diverse range of runners.

With its rich natural beauty and urban landscapes, runners in Portland can immerse themselves in safe and scenic environments as they pursue their fitness goals.

Notable Running Clubs and Organizations

Oregon Road Runners Club

The Oregon Road Runners Club (ORRC) is a popular running organization in Portland, offering a variety of races and events throughout the year.

They host races such as the ORRC Autumn Leaves Run and the ORRC Turkey Trot. The club focuses on promoting health and fitness through running, with events catering to all levels of runners.

Team Red Lizard

Team Red Lizard is a well-known running club in Portland, offering a supportive environment and regular group runs for members to improve their fitness and socialize with fellow runners.

They cater to various running abilities and interests, with experienced runners providing guidance and encouragement to newer members.

Portland Marathon

The Portland Marathon is an annual event held in October, attracting runners from all around the world. It provides a scenic course that showcases the beauty of Portland’s city streets and natural areas. The marathon is known for its well-organized races and exceptional volunteer support, attracting participants of all skill levels.

Foot Traffic

Foot Traffic is a popular running store and organization in Portland. They offer several group runs, training programs, and special events like the Foot Traffic Flat and the Holiday Half Marathon. The store is also appreciated for its wide selection of running gear, and friendly, knowledgeable staff who can help both new and experienced runners find what they need.

Popular Running Stores in Portland

Portland is a hub for runners and has plenty of running stores catering to their needs. This section focuses on some well-known stores: Nike, Adidas, and Portland Running Company.


Nike Unite – Portland MLK is a popular choice for runners in Portland. They offer a wide range of running shoes, apparel, and accessories to meet any runner’s needs. Nike’s commitment to innovation and cutting-edge technology ensures that their products are designed for performance and comfort.


Adidas, another well-known sports brand, has a solid presence in Portland. Although they may not have a dedicated running store in the city, their products can be easily found online and in various sports retail stores across Portland.

Their extensive range of running shoes and apparel caters to casual and professional runners alike, offering quality products with great durability.

Portland Running Company

The Portland Running Company is a locally owned and well-established running store that has serviced the community since 1995.

Their approach focuses on providing a comfortable, professional, and fun shopping experience for customers. They have been voted Portland’s Best Running Store for several years running, solidifying their reputation in the running community.

The Portland Running Company offers group runs, events, and a broad selection of footwear, apparel, and accessories. Runners of all levels can benefit from their expert advice, including assistance in finding the right shoe.

They have two convenient locations: one in Beaverton and another in NW Portland. Customers can also shop their online store, making their products easily accessible to local runners.

In conclusion, Portland has a variety of running store options to keep runners well-equipped and comfortable while exploring the city’s beautiful trails and paths.

From well-known international brands like Nike and Adidas to a local favorite like the Portland Running Company, the city caters to the needs of its running community.

Scenic Running Routes

Portland, Oregon, has an abundance of beautiful running routes for those who love to explore the city on foot. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the most scenic options.

Waterfront and Steel Bridge

One of the main attractions in Portland is the picturesque Waterfront Park, which offers a stunning view of the Willamette River as you run or jog.

The waterfront route also includes the famous Steel Bridge, allowing you to take in the beauty of the river from a higher vantage point.

The Waterfront Park loop is around 3.1 miles (5 km) long, making it suitable for a quick workout or a leisurely run to enjoy the scenery.

Columbia River and Bridges

Another fantastic running route is along the Columbia River, which serves as the natural border between Oregon and Washington.

The scenery along the river, with lush greenery and impressive bridges, makes for a truly picturesque run.

The Columbia River path is around 6.2 miles (10 km) long, and you can customize your route by turning back at any desired point.

From this trail, you’ll spot the Interstate Bridge, serving as both a prominent landmark and a symbol of connectedness between two states.

Willamette River and Historic Bridges

If you wish to mix history and nature, the scenic Willamette River route is perfect for you. The route takes you along a peaceful riverside path, with several historic bridges connecting the east and west sides of Portland.

The bridges include the Broadway Bridge and the Burnside Bridge, each with their own unique charm and style, standing as testimony to the city’s development over the years.

The Willamette River path runs for about 7 miles (11.2 km), offering opportunities for both long runs and short jogs in a scenic and historic environment.

Running Events and Races

Portland, Oregon is known for its picturesque scenery, making it the perfect location for runners to explore various trails and parks. The city is home to several running events and races that cater to athletes of all levels.

One notable event is the Portland Marathon, which attracts thousands of participants each year. The marathon course takes runners through many iconic areas of the city, including the waterfront, Forest Park, and several residential neighborhoods. This event is an excellent opportunity for both experienced marathon runners and first-time participants.

The Oregon Road Runners Club (ORRC) is another significant contributor to the running community in Portland. This club organizes various races throughout the year, including 5Ks, 10Ks, half-marathons, and full marathons. Some popular events hosted by ORRC include:

  • ORRC Hagg Lake Trail Run: A series of trail races around the scenic Hagg Lake, offering multiple distances such as 10.5-mile, 11-mile, and even a 50K.
  • ORRC Y2K: This annual event held in January includes a half-marathon and a 10K race that start and finish at the beautiful Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
  • ORRC Summer Solstice Sundowner: Held in June, this race offers runners a unique 5K experience that takes place in the evening at a local golf course, followed by a post-race dinner and awards ceremony.

Aside from marathons and ORRC events, there are various races and training opportunities in Portland, such as:

  • Waterfront Loop: This 2.5-mile loop takes runners through the heart of the city, along the Willamette River, and across the Steel Bridge. It’s a popular route for both casual jogs and more intense training.
  • Forest Park: With over 70 miles of trails, Forest Park is a favorite destination for trail runners seeking diverse terrain and picturesque views of the city and surrounding natural areas.

As demonstrated, Portland offers a wide variety of running events and races to accommodate every skill level and preference, making it an ideal destination for runners who enjoy diverse experiences and beautiful scenery.

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