Portland Wilderness

A Sampling of Northwest Nature

The diversity of wilderness possibilities near Portland are unparalleled by any other major American metropolis.

Although logging has taken a vast swipe out of Oregon's and Washington's forests, large portions of the state remain remarkabley close to what early pioneers settled. The terrain varies dramatically, ranging from thrusting mountains to high desert to a ragged Pacific coastline. The wilderness areas near the city are a good reflection of the different terrains featured in the region— from high alpine environments such as the Goat Rocks Wilderness to the wild coastal islands of Three Arch Rocks or the old-growth forests of the Middle Santiam.

Some wildernesses attract particular breeds. The contorted rocks of the Menagerie Wilderness attract rock climbers from far and near. As you can probably tell by the name, anglers are devoted to the Salmon Huckleberry's lively waters. The peak at Bull of the Woods, with its 68-mile hiking system, is a fond destination for devoted hikers.

Three mountain ranges distinguish Oregon: the Coastal Range near the sea, the Cascade Mountains dominating roughly the entire center frm north to south, and the Blue Mountains in the northeast. Most Oregonians live in the fertile Willamette Valley between the Coastal and Cascade Ranges, where part of an ancient forest—perhaps the most magnificent on earth—once stretched from California to Alaska.

In Washington, the Cascade Range forms a formidable mountain barrier, which extends from Oregon to Canada. Much of this is public land, whether national park or national forest. And a large part of it is protected as designated wilderness areas, including Goat Rock and Indian Heaven, which are near Portland.


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