Whether you hike in it, bike in it, run through it, or just ogle its beauty while stuck in rush hour traffic, odds are you’ve enjoyed the benefits of Forest Park at least a time or two. Stretching out along the Tualatin Mountain Range, the largest forested municipal park in the country is home to over 80 miles of trails, as many as 62 mammal species, and over 100 species of bird. If you live here, it’s easy to take the park for granted. As far as most people know, Portland’s perfect backdrop has always been there and always will be. The fact of the matter is, however, that the park requires the Herculean efforts of many devoted individuals just to stay properly maintained. Beyond that, Forest Park faces an uphill battle against invasive plant species, and the ongoing struggle to keep a forested corridor intact. The corridor is a vital stretch of land that allows animals to move freely between the park and the Coast Range, and is a major reason for the diversity of wildlife in the area. The nonprofit Forest Park Conservancy exists to maintain, preserve, and protect the 5,000-plus acres of Forest Park’s urban wilderness.
In order to raise money for the Conservancy and increase public awareness, the Conservancy hosts an annual event called the All Trails Challenge . Until October 31, 2014, you are invited to hike, run, or ride the park’s complete trail system. And it’s extensive. There is no fee to register, and fundraising is not a mandatory part of the challenge, but the idea is to get friends and family to sponsor your journey. You can enjoy the challenge by yourself or create your own team of friends. All funds raised go towards protecting and restoring the park. As an added incentive there are a number of wonderful prizes you can earn that escalate in commensurate value the more you bring in.
This year there are three different challenges to pick from: Commit to the “Wildwood Challenge” and hike the length of the park along the famed 30-mile Wildwood Trail. Up the ante and sign up for the “Soft Trails Challenge” and take on over 47-miles of trail, leaving out only the fire lanes and forest roads. Or do the whole enchilada - the official “All Trails Challenge” and hike all 80 miles of Forest Park’s trails.
The All Trails website has a number of tools and resources, including interactive maps to help plan your strategy and keep track of your progress. The All Trails Challenge is a quintessential win-win event. You get to explore every inch of Forest Park’s trails as well as give back by helping to protect and preserve one of the true gems of the Rose City .