Forest Park is big.
Really big. With 5200 acres to play with, this is one of the country’s most extensive urban forests. And it can claim to be the biggest actual forested urban park.
It has over 80 miles in walks and trails and takes in the seven miles of slopes across the Tualatin Mountains. It also goes by the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
All this, and you never have to leave the confines of the Portland’s perimeters!
Without going out of the city, you can see the sixty-two mammals, a hundred and twelve bird species and countless plants which are native to the environment.
Okay, maybe not all of them, in one single visit – but then this is the reason to keep coming back!
Sadly, the ever-present threat of modern living, acts as a permanent reminder of the fragile state of the environment within the forest park.
Some events are out of our (immediate) control, such as climate change, the pace of growth within the urban area, and the risks posed by predators and incoming species.
Wherever possible, the Forest Park Conservancy has pledged to act against the dangers posed to the Forest Park. However, it is not easy.
So how are the folks at the Conservancy planning to deal with the unique issues that they face?
They have responded with something called the Greater Forest Park Conservation Initiative (GFPCI).
This sets out their aims to promote conservation and protect as much as possible within the Conservancy.
And not only within the confines of the Forest Park Conservancy – but beyond its’ boundaries as well. In fact, rather some way beyond.
The GFPCI has pledged to help to maintain and improve the surrounding 15000 acres around the Conservancy. This is a serious and ambitious undertaking.
So, specifically how does the GFPCI plan on helping the delicate ecosphere within and around the Conservancy?
There are four main target areas for improvement, these are;
The Conservancy pledge to help to defend the native wildlife within the Forest Park and to continue to protect it.
This in turn means that there must be a degree of repair and restoration in the park itself. There also need to be links forged between both the Coast Range and Forest Park.
The areas which border the park need attention, to principally prevent the spreading of invasive species over into the park’s boundaries.
There are more than thirty miles of streams within the Conservancy’s boundaries.
The pledge here is to maintain the water quality and to continue to improve it as much as possible. This is necessary for not only the wellbeing of the wildlife in the park itself, but to ensure sanitation and health amongst the human population.
The GFPCI is committed to helping to improve the connectivity between the Coast Range and Willamette river and the Tualatin Mountains.
To continue to maintain the forests so they can support the wildlife and diversity within the environment.
There are too many trails to list here, but there is a leaflet/ pdf available with all the trails and trailheads found within the Forest Park Conservancy.
However, the most notable of all the trails may be Wildwood Trail.
This is actually only partly within the park itself and goes through the Conservancy, as well touching on other points within the metropolis.
Twenty-seven miles of this trail fall within the Forest Park Conservancy itself and an additional three are inside nearby Washington Park.
The Wildwood Trail comprises the most significant portion of the 40 mile loop. This is a collection of trails which make up about 150 miles in total and touch on various portions of Portland.
It goes from Washington Park, near to Oregon Zoo, up to Northwest Newberry Road. It also goes via the Portland Japanese Garden and the wildlife sanctuary of the Audubon society.
The area of the Conservancy can be dated at least 10,000 years back. It contains a Native American settlement location. However, by the mid nineteenth century, nearly all the inhabitants had been banished and replaced by European settlers.
The forest was conserved in 1903 by the Olmsted brothers. It was only saved from development as an urban residential area because of its unsuitability for housing.
It wasn’t until 1948 that the park became Forest Park. The individuals who worked so hard to protect the park went on the form the Forest Park Conservancy group.
Rules Of Forest Park
- Dogs must be on a leash.
- All dog waste must be removed by owners. Please do not leave it in bags.
- Do not deviate from the signposted trails.
- Don’t drop litter.
- Follow the signposts direction carefully.
- No camping is permitted within the Forest Park.
- No fires.
- No guns or firearms.
- No fishing or hunting.
- Please do not remove or dig up any plants.
- No cars or motor vehicles of any description are permitted within the boundaries.
- Cycling is permitted on the designated routes.
- Please don’t cycle away from the marked trails.
- Trails which cyclists may use are Saltzman Rd, Springville Rd, BPA Rd, Newton Road, Holman Lane (uphill), Leif Erikson Drive, Fire Lanes 1,3,5,10, 12, 15.
- Be respectful of all visitors to Forest Park and slow down for them.
Take extra care around horses.
Please do not cycle on trails which are muddy – it makes the erosion worse.
Please do not cycle off the trail and around an obstacle in your path. It will make the trail wider. Please pick up your bike and carry it around the obstacle.
Similarly, horse riders may ride in the park, but only on the permitted routes.
Horse riders must respect all other trail users, including other horse riders, cyclists and walkers.
Horse riders can use these roads and tracks; Leif Erikson Drive, Saltzman Rd, Springville Rd, BPA Rd and Fire Lanes 1,7,10, 12 and 15.
The park is open between 5AM and 10PM daily.
Here’s a great video showing the vibrancy of the Wildwood Trail, thanks to Lazy Day Adventures.