Situated in the Willamette River Valley, at the base of towering mountains and sprawling forests, Portland is a city that needs no introduction in terms of its outdoor offerings. With giant urban parks like Forest Park located within city limits, and with easy access to the stunning Columbia River Gorge and its endless amount of trails and waterfalls, Portland really is a place where you could spend a lifetime and still not experience all that it has to offer. And to top it all off, another thing that sets Portland on a pedestal for outdoor lovers is the fact that Oregon is home to more than 200 breweries, with nearly 85 in the Portland Metro area alone, making it one of the best places in the country to enjoy some adventure and ales. Here, we bring you a sampling of some of our favorite trail to tavern pairings in The Rose City and beyond.
1. Coyote Wall to the Labyrinth | Backwoods Brewing Company
Located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, the hike from the Coyote Wall Trailhead to the Labyrinth is a 5.8-mile loop that has it all. The views of the Columbia River Gorge as you trek through this unique fluvial landscape to the Labyrinth are incredible. But before you make it to this grassy area high above the banks of the river, you'll travel through groves of oaks, past a beautiful waterfall, up through a small canyon, and over basalt outcroppings. If you plan your visit during the spring and early summer, the grassy hillsides are often exploding with wildflowers, but truthfully any time of year is a great time to hike this scenic trail.
Just 30 minutes away from the trailhead, Backwoods Brewing Company offers up the perfect place to enjoy a post-hike brew. Founded in 2012, this brewpub has quite a close connection to the Columbia River Gorge: The water used in its beer is sourced from nearby Bear Creek, its interior is adorned with a stark wooden bar, and its beer names (including Log Yard IPA, Clear Cut Pale, and Ridge Run Stout) reflect the regional lexicon. And with freshly made, hand rolled, tossed out pizza, it's a great place to unwind after a hike with some good grub and great beer.
2. Salmon River Trail | Base Camp Brewing Company
With an easily accessible trailhead and a beautiful riverside trail through lush old-growth forests, it's no wonder that the Salmon River Trail is a popular option for Portlanders. Situated in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, the Salmon River meanders gracefully through untouched forests, plunges off hidden waterfalls, and swirls into deep inviting pools. Running parallel with this river for roughly 8 miles, the Salmon River Trail is easily one of the most inviting trails in the area, as you'll be hiking under a thick canopy of towering old-growth forests for much of the way.
Once you're done, head back into town for a visit to one of Portland's most outdoorsy craft breweries: Base Camp Brewing Company. It's almost as if this place was created to deliver the ultimate trail to tavern experience. The interior feels like a cross between a Portland brew pub and a sleek REI. A canoe is suspended above the bar, numerous outdoor action photos hang above the taps, exposed wood graces the interior, and clear lights twinkle in the ceiling, evoking a starry sky after the sun sets.
3. North Portland Loop | Occidental Brewing Company
Okay, so it's not a hike, but the North Portland Loop is an urban bike trail that takes cyclists through an area of the city known for its diverse landscapes, but which nevertheless rarely shows up in Portland tour guides. Many Portlanders consider the Portland peninsula to be one of the furthest, tumbleweed-laden, lawless outposts of the Rose City, but, in reality, it's actually a fine place to get a little fresh air via bicycle. From the bluffs of Willamette Boulevard to the serene Smith and Bybee lakes, there’s a lot to appreciate on this 19 mile bike ride around North Portland.
For the best trail to tavern experience along this route, take a break along the way at Occidental Brewing Company, one of Portland’s best-kept brewery secrets, in the St. Johns neighborhood. Occidental serves German-style beers—including a dunkel, kolsch, and hefeweizen—with nary an IPA to be found (sorry, hopheads!).
4. Hoyt Arboretum | Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Located in Portland’s Washington Park, the Hoyt Arboretum is home to over 2,000 species of trees and plants from all over the world. There are 12 miles of trail spread out over 189 acres, and the well-manicured paths take you through groups of trees, including larch, spruce, oak, and even sequoia. With trail surfaces that range from hard-pack dirt to gravel and pavement, this is the perfect place to enjoy an easy stroll through a diverse and scenic landscape.
Like Hoyt Arboretum, variety is paramount at Cascade Brewing Barrel House. The Eastside outpost specializes in all things sour beer, with nearly 20 taps available and almost 25 bottles for sale. Catch it on a Tuesday, and Cascade Barrel’s Tap It Tuesday events introduce beer aficionados to a new sour every week.
5. Angel's Rest Trail | Thunder Island Brewing Company
Angel’s Rest is one of the most popular hikes in the Columbia River Gorge—good luck finding parking near the trail head on a sunny Saturday afternoon—thanks to the 270-degree views at its summit. On the way up, hikers gain about 1,500 feet over 2.5 miles, traveling through many different landscapes, from lush green forest, to charred remains of trees near the summit (the result of a 1991 forest fire). Once to the top, the views unravel as far as the eye can see with sweeping views of the Columbia River, East Portland, Beacon Rock, Hamilton Mountain, and Cape Horn.
Thunder Island Brewing Company in Cascade Locks, not unlike Angel’s Rest, offers some of the best Gorge views this side of Hood River. Sure, it’s another half-hour east, but it’s worth the trip for the brewery’s outdoor seating, mere feet from the banks of the Columbia River. Enjoy the shade of a few fir trees and watch the river roll by while enjoying Thunder Island’s citrusy IPA.