Sports and Recreation
Portland is a great sports and recreation town, particularly for weekend warriors who like playing games as much as (or more than) they like watching them. Portland doesn’t have many major professional teams—the city government has called Portland the most under-served professional sports market in the country—but the area’s abundant recreational opportunities more than make up for the lack of big-league luster. Besides taking advantage of a great environment for year-round outdoor recreation, Portlanders also engage in some quirky quasi-sports, like geocaching (which was invented here). Unless you’re into something really esoteric like ice kiting, you’re bound to find congenial surroundings for whatever pastime literally or figuratively floats your boat.
Health clubs and sporting goods stores are listed at the end of this chapter.
Professional and Semiprofessional Sports
As of 2014, Portland has only two “big five” professional sports teams—the Trail Blazers National Basketball Association franchise and the highly popular Portland Timbers Major League Soccer franchise, which together get most of the sports media and fan attention in town. The city nonetheless offers a decent range of opportunities to watch talented athletes play various games. If you need a (relatively) close-by major league baseball or NFL fix, you’ll have to make the trek north to Seattle to see the Mariners or the Seahawks in action.
Portland is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a major league baseball team. Various civic boosters periodically launch efforts to lure an existing or expansion team to Portland, and came reasonably close to wooing the relocating Montreal Expos (a team that Washington, D.C., ultimately bagged; they’re now the Nationals). Portland lost its AAA team, the Portland Beavers, in 2010, when their stadium was remodeled for Major League Soccer and no area city would step up to the plate to fund a new stadium. For now, Portland has to be content with Class-A short-season baseball, which has the advantage of being less expensive and arguably more fun to watch than major league baseball. The Hillsboro Hops (hillsborohops.com), a farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks, relocated to Hillsboro from Yakima, Washington, in 2013. The Hops play at Ron Tonkin Stadium (4460 NW 229th Ave, Hillsboro), just off the Sunset Highway; a free shuttle runs from the Orenco Station MAX stop on game days. Their Class-A short-season rivals, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (volcanoesbaseball.com), affiliated with the San Francisco Giants, play adjacent to I-5 just north of Salem.
The Portland Trail Blazers (blazers.com) won their only NBA championship in 1977. Since then, the Trail Blazers have fielded some strong teams that have vied for and won the NBA Western Conference title, as well as mediocre rosters that included players who had run-ins with the law. (The latter circumstance begat the “Jail Blazers” nickname.) Still, the Blazers enjoy strong (if not necessarily broad-based) community support even when their record is abysmal; the bandwagon grows more substantial when the Blazers do well, as when, against all expectations, they made the Western Conference finals in 2014. The Blazers play in the Moda Center, formerly (and still widely) known as the Rose Garden. Tickets are available through the team website or by calling the Blazer Ticket Line (844-RIP-CITY).
The Portland area is also home to two International Basketball League teams, the Portland Chinooks (ibl.com/Portland_chinooks) and their presumably hated cross-town rivals, the Vancouver Volcanoes (ibl.com/Vancouver_volcanoes). While IBL basketball is purportedly fast-paced and high-scoring, and certainly more affordable to attend than NBA games, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many people other than diehard sports fans who have heard of either team.
In 2014, the Portland Thunder (portlandthunder.com) began life as an expansion team in the Arena Football League. The Thunder play home games in the Moda Center. Single-game tickets are available by calling 503-789-7673.
The “major-junior” Portland Winter Hawks (winterhawks.com) compete in the Calgary-based Western Hockey League, which mainly comprises teams based in western Canadian cities. The team has reliably won the Western Conference Championship in most recent years. The Winter Hawks enjoy a fiercely loyal fan base, and games can be rowdy (although actual fights are generally confined to the players). Half-time activities, which sometimes involve hapless fans slipping around on the ice in a quest for some prize, can be surprisingly entertaining in a low-key way. During their fall and winter season, the Winter Hawks play home games in the Memorial Coliseum or the adjacent Moda Center in the Rose Quarter of Northeast Portland. Tickets are available online, by calling 503-236-4295, or at the Memorial Coliseum and Rose Quarter box offices on game nights.
Portland is frequently named as a contender for an NHL franchise when and if the league expands, but don’t hold your breath.
The Portland Timbers (portlandtimbers.com) are an MLS (Major League Soccer) team. The season runs from April to September. The Timbers play home games at Providence Park (1844 SW Morrison St, 503-553-5400, providenceparkpdx.com). The Timbers enjoy the most consistently enthusiastic fan base in town, and at home games the Timbers Army section of the stadium (the north end) is both a visual and aural phenomenon. Chainsaw-wielding lumberjack Timber Joey slices through a log when the Timbers score. Tickets are available through the team website, by calling 503-553-5555, or from the Providence Park box office.
The Portland Thorns (timbers.com/thornsfc) play in the National Women’s Soccer League. They won the league championship in 2013. Like the Timbers, the Thorns play home games at Providence Park.
Collegiate and High School Sports
Portland lacks the sort of college sports powerhouses that vie for national championships in football and basketball. The nearest Pac-12 schools are Oregon State University in Corvallis (about 90 minutes away), and the University of Oregon in Eugene (two hours south), and those schools’ athletic programs suck up most of the state’s college sports money and attention. That said, most nearby colleges and universities field intercollegiate teams in at least one sport. Probably the most watchable teams, at least for non-alumni, are the University of Portland Pilots women’s and men’s soccer teams. (The women’s squad won the 2005 Division I NCAA championship, and has won several conference championships since then.) For more information, visit portlandpilots.com.
High school sports can be exciting, and not just for players and their friends and parents. In addition to football, baseball, basketball, and soccer, some schools offer lacrosse, water polo, and other less mainstream sports. Most high school athletic activities in Oregon are coordinated through the Oregon School Activities Association (osaa.org). (In Washington, the equivalent organization is the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, wiaa.com.) For news coverage of Portland high school athletics, check out the sports section of the Oregonian or visit highschoolsports.oregonlive.com.
Participant Sports and Outdoor Recreation
If you ask Portlanders what they love about city, you’re liable to hear them rhapsodize about the great selection of outdoor recreational opportunities. From watching the sunset over the city from Mount Tabor Park to climbing Mount Hood, and from walking around the block to running the Portland Marathon, hundreds of activities are available for every level of athletic ability.
For general information about local parks, pools, community centers, tennis courts, or community athletic programs, start with your local parks department. In the city of Portland, contact Portland Parks and Recreation (503-823-PLAY, portlandparks.org). Contact information for other communities’ parks departments is listed in the Useful Phone Numbers and Websites chapter.
In Portland, bicycling is wildly popular, both as a recreational activity and as a means of transportation. (For information about bike routes, bike commuting, and getting around by bicycle generally, see the Transportation chapter.) Portland has an abundance of bike lanes and “bike boulevards”—streets with low traffic volume and, often, obstacles to through car traffic—and a developing system of paved off-street trails allows bicyclists to ride fairly long distances without having to dodge motorized vehicles. The longest of these urban trails is the 17-mile Springwater Corridor, which runs from the east bank of the Willamette River to Boring as part of the still incomplete 40-Mile Loop (see 40mileloop.org for details); other off-street trails include the Eastbank Esplanade and the Willamette Greenway; a long trail paralleling Marine Drive on the south shore of the Columbia River; and some not especially peaceful trails that parallel Interstate 205 and part of the Sunset Highway. Just west of the metro area, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail is a 21-mile rails-to-trails project that has been converted into a linear state park; see oregonstateparks.org/park_145.php for more information. Serious riders can practice, or race, on the scarily banked velodrome at Alpenrose Dairy in southwest Portland (6149 SW Shattuck Rd, obra.org/track/).
Bike touring possibilities outside Portland are legion. Thanks to the region’s urban growth boundary, densely populated areas rather quickly give way to farmland and forest, laced with paved roads that, in many cases, have relatively low traffic volume. Your route could lead through flat farmland, shady valleys in the Cascade foothills, and rolling vineyard country—all in one day. Pancake-flat Sauvie Island is an especially popular nearby destination; the fact that the island is reachable by public transportation (bikes allowed) adds to the appeal.
Road biking gets much of the press in Portland, but the region has outstanding mountain biking opportunities, too. Forest Park is a justly popular destination, with options for riders of various abilities. (Bikes are restricted to designated trails, and concerns about erosion and conflicts with hikers on steep, narrow trails mean singletrack is currently limited to a sole 0.3-mile stretch.) Fat Tire Farm (2714 NW Thurman St, 503-222-3276, fattirefarm.com) is conveniently located virtually next door to the park; the store rents mountain bikes and can point out appropriate routes. Besides the miles of trails in Forest Park, there are plenty of lesser-known routes, including singletrack and doubletrack trails, outside the city; take a look at a mountain biking guidebook for suggestions, or contact the Northwest Trail Alliance (see contact information below).
The city of Portland’s Office of Transportation posts extensive information on its website (gettingaroundportland.org) about bicycling in Portland, including bike maps and routes, a list of bicycle-related organizations and shops, and suggested bike touring itineraries; click on the “Active Transportation” link. Several bike-related nonprofits, including the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (503-226-0676, btaoregon.org), the Community Cycling Center (1805 NE 2nd Ave, 503-288-8864, communitycyclingcenter.org), and Shift (shift2bikes.org), are very helpful sources of information for Portland bicyclists.
If you like to bike in a group, or at least to follow an organized (and supported) itinerary, consider signing up for one of the many organized recreational rides that take place around the area. The biggest of these are Cycle Oregon (503-287-0405, cycleoregon.com), a week-long tour through a scenic part of the state—the itinerary changes each year—and the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (cascade.org/ride-major-rides/group-health-stp), a one- or two-day pedal between the two cities. Some of the many shorter bike tours that attract more casual riders include the Worst Day of the Year Ride (worstdayride.com), held in typically rainy and chilly February (the 2014 ride was cancelled due to a rare snowstorm); and Providence Bridge Pedal (503-281-9198, bridgepedal.com), which wends its way across all ten of Portland’s Willamette River road bridges. Each year, the city sponsors several Sunday Parkways events, in which streets in a particular neighborhood are closed off to cars and thrown open to bikes. ORbike (orbike.com) maintains the most complete and up-to-date online list of bicycling events in the area.
The following organizations organize rides and events around the area.
- Northwest Trail Alliance, nw-trail.org
- Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, obra.org
- Portland Velo, portlandvelo.net
- Portland Wheelmen Touring Club, 503-666-5796, pwtc.com
- Vancouver Bicycle Club, vbc-usa.com
Whether you’re an experienced birder who’s new to Portland or someone investigating the activity for the first time, the Audubon Society of Portland (5151 NW Cornell Rd, 503-292-6855, audubonportland.org) is a great place to start. The Society has its own 180-acre sanctuary adjacent to Forest Park in the West Hills, which includes an interpretive center, a care center for injured birds, and a store that sells field guides and other birding essentials. The Society’s website has an extensive library of information about local birding, including updated rare bird alerts.
The Oregon State Marine Board (503-378-8587, boatoregon.com) provides a wealth of information about boating in the state, including current boating regulations, navigational hazards, and water access points. Its website is useful for both motorized and non-motorized boaters. The Washington Recreation and Conservation Office (360-902-3000) maintains its state’s boating portal at boat.wa.gov.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, and canoeing are very popular throughout the Northwest. Non-motorized watercraft are generally permitted on any navigable body of water, but accessible public launch points may be hard to find. Popular nearby places for paddling include the Columbia Slough in North and Northeast Portland; coastal rivers and bays, such as Tillamook Bay; lakes and reservoirs, such as Blue Lake in Fairview (a good spot for fledgling canoeists); and the Clackamas, Tualatin, Molalla, Sandy, Columbia, and Willamette rivers.
It is possible to make some epic river trips to or from Portland; if you have the time, you can float downstream on the mostly flat water of the Willamette for well over a hundred miles from Eugene to Portland, with a single portage at Willamette Falls in Oregon City. On the Columbia, the 146-mile Lower Columbia Water Trail (columbiawatertrail.org) leads from Bonneville Dam to Astoria. (Be aware that paddling the Columbia can force you to contend with strong winds, surprisingly large waves, treacherous currents, and oceangoing ship traffic.) Some skilled ocean kayakers seeking saltwater brave the open Pacific, but others regularly head north to the protected waters of Puget Sound or southern British Columbia. If you’re looking for an outfitter or guided trip, visit the website of the Oregon Guides and Packers Association (ogpa.org). For more specific information and suggested routes, check out one of the guidebooks listed in A Portland Reading List or contact one of the following local clubs:
- DragonSports USA, dragonsports.org (dragon boat paddling)
- Lower Columbia Canoe Club, l-ccc.org
- Oregon Kayak and Canoe Club, okcc.org
- Oregon Ocean Paddling Society (OOPS), oopskayak.org
- Pacific Northwest LGBT Kayaking Club, outkayaking.org
- Willamette Rowing Club, willametterowing.com
If you’d like to dabble in paddling and don’t want the hassle of transporting a boat, you can rent a watercraft from one of the following locations, all of which are located within easy carrying distance of a launch point:
- Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe (aldercreek.com) has three Portland-area locations: near OMSI on the east bank of the Willamette River (1515 SE Water St, 503-285-1819), at Jantzen Beach on the Columbia (200 NE Tomahawk Island Dr, 503-285-0464), and at Brown’s Ferry Park in Tualatin, on the Tualatin River (6855 SW Nyberg Ln, 503-691-2405, open Memorial Day–Labor Day only).
- Portland River Company (portlandrivercompany.com) has a rental facility on the west bank of the Willamette at Willamette Park in South Portland (6600 SW Macadam Ave, 503-459-4050).
Many Northwesterners own motorboats; small boats with outboard motors that can be transported by trailer and used for fishing are particular popular and versatile, although you’ll also see folks with ski boats, jet skis, and motor yachts. Major rivers and larger lakes and reservoirs generally have convenient boat ramps or other access points; the Oregon State Marine Board provides a list of access points on its website (oregon.gov/osmb/pages/access/acess.aspx), or contact them at 503-378-8587 to have a hard copy of the Oregon Boating Facilities Guide mailed to you. For Washington water access points, check the website of the Recreation and Conservation office (rco.wa.gov/maps/), which also offers a free Washington Water Cruiser app.
Several marinas for larger boats are located along the Columbia River or on Multnomah Channel; the RiverPlace Marina (503-241-8283) is on the Willamette, right downtown. Most marinas offer motorboat rentals to qualified boaters.
If you’re bringing in a boat from out-of-state, you’ll need to register it. In Oregon, the Oregon State Marine Board coordinates boat registration; in Washington, you’ll need to go through the Washington Department of Licensing (360-902-3770, dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/registerboat.html).
Sailing on Portland-area rivers and lakes is enjoyable and can be challenging, but it is also constricting. The open North Pacific is often stormy, and the only access from Portland to the ocean is over the treacherous Columbia Bar. (Serious sailors who can afford it keep boats moored in Puget Sound, two to three hours north of Portland, which gives them access to hundreds of miles of protected sailing grounds.) For local sailing opportunities, including classes and races, contact the Island Sailing Club (515 NE Tomahawk Island Dr, 800-303-2470, islandsailingclub.com) or the Willamette Sailing Club (6336 SW Beaver Ave, 503-246-5345, willamettesailingclub.com).
Oregon is full of classic whitewater trips: the Deschutes River in central Oregon; the Snake River in Hells Canyon, on the Oregon-Idaho border; the McKenzie River, east of Eugene; the Owyhee River in remote southeastern Oregon; and the Rogue and Umpqua rivers in southern Oregon. Exciting whitewater is available closer to Portland on the Clackamas River, only an hour away; the North Santiam River, east of Salem; and the Wind, White Salmon, and Klickitat Rivers on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. Commercial rafting companies operate on all of these streams; check online or in the Yellow Pages under “Rafts & Raft Trips” for company listings or visit the Oregon Guides and Packers Association website (ogpa.org). For more specific information on whitewater rafting in Oregon, contact the Northwest Rafters Association (nwrafters.org).
If fencing means more to you than simply yard enclosure or the sale of stolen goods, you’re in luck. Portland has several clubs and facilities for fencers of all abilities. En garde!
- Northpointe Gymnastics & Fencing, 6707 NE 117th Ave, Vancouver, 360-254-7958, northpointegym.com
- Northwest Fencing Center, 4950 SW Western Ave, Beaverton, 503-277-2237, nwfencing.org
- Oregon Fencing Alliance, 503-467-9891, oregonfencing.org
- PDX Fencing, 5645 SW Arctic Dr, Beaverton, 503-644-7739, pdxfencing.com
- Salle Trois Armes, 8517 NE Lombard St, 503-285-2962, fencingcenter.org
- Studio of American Fencing, 4048 NE 42nd Ave, 503-249-2884, saf.pair.com
Fishing and Hunting
In addition to the range of outdoor and sporting goods stores in the Portland area (see “Sporting Goods Stores” towards the end of this chapter), September 2014 saw the opening of the first Portland area Cabela’s, a Nebraska-based, nationally known hunting and fishing superstore, in Tualatin just off I-5.
The fishing and shellfishing opportunities available in Oregon are nothing short of amazing. In the Portland area, you can find salmon, trout, and other game fish in nearly every river and reservoir, including the Willamette River as it flows through downtown Portland. (You wouldn’t be wise to eat bottom feeders from the lower Willamette unless your idea of a delicious meal includes not-so-delectable PCBs.)
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) (4034 Fairview Industrial Dr SE, Salem, 503-947-6000, dfw.state.or.us) regulates fishing and hunting activity in Oregon, and is the best place to go for general information about license requirements and current regulations and restrictions. (In Washington, the equivalent agency is the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-902-2200, wdfw.wa.gov.) In Oregon, everyone 14 or older needs a license to fish; angling license fees range from $9 (for residents aged 14 to 17) to $116 (for an annual nonresident license with Columbia River Basin endorsement). One-day to seven-day licenses are available at reduced prices. Shellfish collection requires a separate license; fees range from $7 to $20.50. (Washington requirements and prices are similar.) Licenses are available at most sporting goods stores and many grocery stores.
ODFW also publishes useful pamphlets (most of which are available online) on a variety of fish and wildlife topics; they’re not going to reveal anyone’s secret fishing hole, but they can point you in the right direction. Their pamphlet 50 Places to Go Fishing Within 60 Minutes of Portland (also available on the ODFW website) is a useful starting point.
Inner-city Portland isn’t really a pickup-and-gun-rack kind of place (although there are certainly residents who enjoy hunting), but hunting, including bowhunting, is a popular activity in some surrounding areas, particularly in the Cascade foothills, the Coast Range, and the mountains of eastern Oregon. Targets range from such big game as deer, elk, or bear to waterfowl, rabbits, and quail. Check with ODFW for current regulations and license or tag requirements.
Geocaching and Orienteering
A relatively new activity that has only been around since 2000, geocaching actually originated just outside Portland in the town of Beavercreek. It is essentially a high-tech game of hide-and-seek, in which a collection of objects is “cached” at specific coordinates and the seeker uses a global positioning system to find the cache. (Geocaching etiquette requires that if you take something from the cache, you leave something else in its place.) For information about geocaching in the area, check out Oregon Geocaching, oregongeocaching.org.
Orienteering is decidedly less high-tech, and involves point-to-point route-finding, sometimes over difficult or brushy terrain, using only a map and (usually) a compass. The Columbia River Orienteering Club (croc.org) organizes orienteering events in the Portland area.
It’s admittedly no Florida or Phoenix, but Portland harbors some surprisingly good golf courses. Even the weather helps the reasonably hardy golfer here: mild temperatures and incessant precipitation for most of the year keep the fairways green, and if you don’t mind the rain, you can pretty much golf all winter. Also, you usually don’t need to schedule summer tee times to avoid the midday heat, and given the infrequency of thunderstorms in western Oregon you are unlikely to be struck by lightning while hoisting your putter into the air in triumph after your impressive birdie on the eighth hole. If you’re serious about your golf game, consider joining the Oregon Golf Association (oga.org), which also covers southwest Washington.
Below is a list of the public or semi-private golf courses within Portland, as well as some of the most popular courses in surrounding communities. Because one person’s putt-putt is another’s Pebble Beach, we’ve made no attempt to rank the courses, and there is a challenge here for every skill level. For a complete list of area courses check the Yellow Pages or use the Oregon Golf Association’s Course Finder tool (exploreoregongolf.com). For detailed course descriptions, including photos, visit Oregon Golf (oregongolf.com).
- Broadmoor Golf Course, 3509 NE Columbia Blvd, 503-281-1337, broadmoor-1931.com
- Camas Meadows Golf Club, 4105 NW Camas Meadows Dr, Camas, 360-833-2000, camasmeadows.com
- Charbonneau Golf Club, 32020 SW Charbonneau Dr, Wilsonville, 503-694-1246, charbonneaugolf.com
- Claremont Golf Club, 15800 NW Country Club Dr, 503-690-4589, claremontgolfclub.com
- Colwood National Golf Club, 7313 NE Columbia Blvd, 503-254-5515, colwoodgolfclub.com
- Eagle Landing Golf Course, 10220 SE Causey Ave, Happy Valley, 503-698-8020, theaerieateaglelanding.com (short course)
- Eastmoreland Golf Course, 2425 SE Bybee Blvd, 503-775-2900, eastmorelandgolfcourse.com
- Forest Hills Golf Course, 36260 SW Tongue Ln, Cornelius, 503-357-3347, golfforesthills.com
- Glendoveer Golf Course, 14015 NE Glisan St, 503-253-7507, playglendoveer.com
- Heron Lakes Golf Course, 3500 N Victory Blvd, 503-289-1818, heronlakesgolf.com
- Langdon Farms Golf Club, 24377 NE Airport Rd, Aurora, 503-678-4653, langdonfarms.com
- Lake Oswego Golf Course, 17525 Stafford Rd, Lake Oswego, 503-636-8228, lakeoswegogolf.org
- Meriwether National Golf Club, 5200 SW Rood Bridge Rd, Hillsboro, 503-648-4143, meriwethergolfclub.com
- Mountain View Golf Course, 27195 SE Kelso Rd, Boring, 503-663-4869, mtviewgolfclub.com
- Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, 12930 Old Pumpkin Ridge Rd, North Plains, 503-647-4747, pumpkinridge.com
- Quail Valley Golf Course, 12565 NE Aerts Rd, Banks, 503-324-4444, quailvalleygolf.com
- RedTail Golf Course, 8200 SW Scholls Ferry Rd, 503-646-5166, golfredtail.com
- The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club, 4805 SW 229th Ave, Aloha, 503-649-8191, reservegolf.com
- Rose City Golf Course, 2200 NE 71st Ave, 503-253-4744, rosecitygc.com
- Stone Creek Golf Club, 14603 S Stoneridge Dr, Oregon City, 503-518-4653, stonecreekgolfclub.net
- Tri Mountain Golf Course, 1701 NW 299th St, Ridgefield, 360-887-3004, trimountaingolf.com
- Wildwood Golf Course, 21881 NW St Helens Rd, 503-621-3402, golfingwildwood.com
Farther afield, the region around Bend in Central Oregon is a major golf destination, as is, to a lesser extent, the Oregon Coast.
Hiking and Walking
The amount of green you see on an Oregon state map speaks for itself. The majority of the state is public land, much of it national forest, and thousands of miles of hiking trails lace the region. It’s not necessary to venture very far to get a hiking fix, however; almost every neighborhood in Portland is within hailing distance of a walking path or hiking trail. The longest and “wildest” trails are in the West Hills, especially in Washington Park and Forest Park. (The Wildwood Trail runs for 28 miles along the spine of the West Hills, from near the Oregon Zoo to the northern reaches of Forest Park, crossing paved roads only a few times along the way.) Many of the trails in the region are interconnected, and given world enough and time you could walk all the way across the state.
Portland is also a great city for urban rambles, especially near downtown and on the East Side, where sidewalks are abundant. If you like some direction to your walks, buy, beg, or borrow one of the walking or hiking guides described in A Portland Reading List, or visit peripatetic guidebook writer William L. Sullivan’s website (oregonhiking.com). For something more structured and informative, try one of the tours offered by Portland Walking Tours (503-774-4522, portlandwalkingtours.com). (Note that their “Epicurean Excursion” to various foodie destinations is unlikely to promote weight loss.)
Walk About (walkaboutmag.com), a free publication available at many natural food supermarkets and sporting goods stores, lists events of interest to Northwest walkers. If you prefer to walk with a partner or group, look into the following organizations:
- Columbia River Volkssport Club (walking4fun.org) organizes recreational walks, usually about six miles in length, in scenic locations around the Portland area.
- Although best known as a mountaineering club, the Mazamas (527 SE 43rd Ave, 503-227-2345, mazamas.org) sponsor frequent hikes, including some for beginning hikers.
- Portland-based Racewalkers Northwest, rwnw.org, organizes local training walks and racewalk competitions.
- Wonders of Walking, 503-282-1677, wondersofwalking.com, sponsors various recreational and competitive walking events in the Northwest.
Portland Parks and Recreation (portlandparks.org) also organizes walks and hikes, as do many environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club’s local Columbia Group (oregon.sierraclub.org/groups/columbia/).
Horseback Riding and Equestrian Sports
Most equestrian activities necessarily take place outside of Portland, although there are some trails in the larger parks, such as Forest Park, that allow horses. If you’re interested in trail rides, try Flying “M” Ranch (23029 NW Flying M Rd, Yamhill, 503-662-3222, flying-m-ranch.com). For more serious trail riding, the nonprofit Oregon Equestrian Trails (oregonequestriantrails.org) is an excellent resource. If you’re looking for riding lessons, or if you actually own or want to own a horse, check out the listings at Oregon Horse (oregonhorse.net) or the Oregon Horse Directory, produced annually by Oregon Horse Country (oregonhorsecountry.com).
Hot Air Ballooning
Several area companies will carry you into the sky in a hot air balloon (and bring you back down again). Try Portland Rose Hot Air Balloon Adventures (Lake Oswego, 503-638-1301, 877-934-6359, portlandroseballoons.com), Vista Balloon Adventures (Newberg, 503-625-7385, 800-622-2309, vistaballoon.com), or Pacific Peaks Balloon Company (Tigard, 503-590-5250, pachigh.com). Regardless of a company’s headquarters location, flights generally launch from outlying areas.
Portland lacks the convenient frozen ponds of, say, Minneapolis, so ice skating necessarily takes place in indoor rinks. All of the rinks below offer public skating, skate rentals, and lessons; most sponsor hockey, speedskating, and other ice-related activities. Please be tactful and bear in mind that Tonya Harding jokes wore out their welcome long ago.
- Lloyd Center Ice Rink, Lloyd Center Mall (lower level), 503-288-6073, lloydcenterice.com
- Mountain View Ice Arena, 14313 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, 360-896-8700, 503-235-8176, mtviewice.com
- Sherwood Ice Arena, 20407 SW Borchers Dr, Sherwood, 503-625-5757, sherwoodicearena.com
- Winterhawks Skating Center, 9250 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 503-297-2521, winterhawksskatingcenter.com
Amateur figure skaters may be interested in the Portland Ice Skating Club (pisc.org). If ice skating is too strenuous for your taste, try curling. The Evergreen Curling Club (503-430-0910, evergreencurling.org) has its own curling facility in Beaverton, and stands ready and willing to help you out.
If you know the difference between a morel and a false morel—or if you’d like to—consider joining the Oregon Mycological Society (wildmushrooms.org). OMS organizes frequent mushroom hunts and educates its members about mushroom identification and other mycological issues. OMS puts the “fun” in fungi!
Paintball & Laser Tag
If shooting at people is your hobby, and you want to keep it legal, paintball and laser tag are among your few available non-military options. Here are a few establishments that will facilitate your murderous predilections:
- Action Acres, 10381 S Mulino Rd, Canby, 503-266-5733, actionacrespb.com
- Impact Action Spots, 19265 SW Schaber Ln, Tualatin, 503-213-3230, impactactionsports.com
- LaserPort, 6540 SW Fallbrook Pl, Beaverton, 503-526-9501, laserportofbeaverton.com
- Splat Action Paintball, 32155 S Grimm Rd, Molalla, 503-467-1855, splataction.com
- Ultrazone Laser Tag, 16074 SE McLoughlin Blvd, Milwaukie, 503-652-1122, ultrazoneportland.com
Many city and suburban public parks have outdoor tennis courts, the majority of which are lighted. Given the inevitable heartbreak and soggy tennis balls that result from playing on a court full of puddles, Portland thankfully also has its share of indoor courts. The following indoor courts are public facilities:
- Lake Oswego Indoor Tennis Center, 2900 Diane Dr, Lake Oswego, 503-635-5550, ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/indoor-tennis-center
- Portland Tennis Center, 324 NE 12th Ave, 503-823-3189
- St. Johns Racquet Center, 7519 N Burlington Ave, 503-823-3629, stjohnsracquetcenter.org
There are several private racquet clubs in the area, too; check online the Yellow Pages under “Tennis Courts-Private” for listings. In addition, some of the larger health clubs feature racquetball and squash courts.
Rock Climbing and Mountaineering
The area around Portland is blessed with many good rock climbing and bouldering options, ranging from climbs in abandoned quarries to ascents of towering natural cliffs; a few decent outdoor sites are within city limits, notably Rocky Butte quarry in Northeast Portland. The Portland Rock Climbs website (portlandrockclimbs.com) describes other nearby climbing sites and offers links to local climbing groups. Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon (oregonstateparks.org or smithrock.com) is one of the premier climb destinations in the country.
If you want to learn to climb, or just need to keep your skills up, try one of the following rock gyms. (Rock gyms are also good sources of information on local climbing options and routes.)
- The Circuit Bouldering Gym, 6050 SW Macadam Ave, 503-246-5111, thecircuitgym.com
- Planet Granite, 1405 NW 14th Ave, planetgranite.com
- Portland Rock Gym, 21 NE 12th Ave, 503-232-8310, portlandrockgym.com
- Stoneworks Climbing Gym, 6775 SW 111th Ave, Beaverton, 503-644-3517, belay.com
In addition, some area health clubs and even outdoor stores (REI) have climbing walls.
The Northwest offers abundant possibilities for serious mountaineers. The most obvious local destination is glacier-covered Mount Hood, reputedly one of the world’s most-climbed peaks. At 11,240 feet, Mount Hood is not especially high, but it is a challenging and potentially treacherous climb that should not be attempted lightly: people die on the mountain every year. Other tempting (and potentially deadly) glaciated Cascade volcanoes include Mount Jefferson, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, and Mount Rainier.
The Mazamas (527 SE 43rd Ave, 503-227-2345, mazamas.org) is the area’s largest mountaineering club; the group has a large clubhouse in Southeast Portland and offers excellent classes on mountaineering basics.
Running and Jogging
The surprising numbers of lycra-clad bodies sloshing down the street in the damp winter pre-dawn attest to the local popularity of recreational running. (Unlike in some higher-crime cities, the people you see dashing down the street usually aren’t running away from anything, except perhaps their inner demons.)
Although it’s in the business of selling running shoes and apparel, the Portland Running Company (two area stores, portlandrunningcompany.com) also offers training tips, lists suggested routes, sponsors group runs, and provides links to area running organizations and events.
Recreational and competitive running (and walking) events take place all year. They run the gamut from seasonal activities like First Run (held at midnight on New Year’s) or the Turkey Trot (on Thanksgiving Day) to such themed events as the Hippie Chick Half-Marathon (for women only) or the dreaded Lake of Death Relay. The two biggest running events on the local calendar are the Hood to Coast Relay (503-292-4626, hoodtocoast.com in August, which wends its weary way from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to the Oregon Coast, and the Portland Marathon (503-226-1111, portlandmarathon.org), held in October. Most Northwest races and running events are listed on racecenter.com, which also offers online registration.
- Complete Running Club, 503-593-1396, crpusa.com
- Oregon Road Runners Club, orrc.net
- Portland Frontrunners, portlandfrontrunners.org (gay/bi/lesbian running club)
- Runner Chick Training Club, 971-409-8461, runnerchicktrainingclub.com (women only)
- Team Red Lizard Running Club, redlizardrunning.com
Skating and Skateboarding
In Portland, skates and skateboards are a recognized form of transportation, and the city has actually designated a few “preferred skating routes” downtown. The website for the city’s Office of Transportation lists rules and safety suggestions for skaters who use public streets. Visit portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/405782 for more information.
Roller Skating/In-Line Skating
In-line skating remains a popular activity on Portland’s paved paths, particularly along the downtown waterfront and on the Eastbank Esplanade, and it looks like old-school roller skates may be making a comeback, too. If you prefer to skate indoors, the Oaks Skating Rink at Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood (7805 Oaks Park Way, 503-233-5777, oakspark.com/roller-skating.html) boasts a 20,000-square-foot wooden floor. Indoor Goals (16340 NW Bethany Ct, Beaverton, 503-629-9500, indoorgoals.com) hosts inline hockey leagues.
Portland’s a totally sick place to get your ollie on, bro. (Note: to a skateboarder, this is a good thing.) Not only is skateboarding legal on public streets (see above), but skateparks are increasingly common, even in suburban communities. The city of Portland has approved a master plan for the development of a network of 19 skateparks; visit the website of Skaters for Portland Skateparks (skateportland.org) for details. The granddaddy of all Portland skateparks is the legendary and semi-official Burnside Skatepark (burnsideskatepark.blogspot.com), which lurks under the east side of the Burnside Bridge like a gnarly concrete troll.
Skateoregon (skateoregon.com) offers comprehensive information about skate parks throughout the state and beyond.
If you’re the sort of person who gets a rush out of jumping out of planes, or if you think you might be, try Skydive Oregon, 12150 S Hwy 211, Molalla, 503-829-3483, 800-934-5867, skydiveoregon.com.
Many gyms, community centers, and even city parks have indoor (or at least covered) basketball courts, and pick-up games are easy to find. If you’re after a more structured experience, PortlandBasketball.com (portlandbasketball.com) the area’s largest adult basketball league, averages more than 250 teams (including co-ed teams) that encompass every age and skill level. Local park and recreation districts and health clubs also organize adult basketball leagues.
Most area ice rinks can point you in the right direction for ice hockey leagues. (See “Ice Skating” above.) For information about organized roller hockey, contact Indoor Goals (16340 NW Bethany Ct, Beaverton, 503-629-9500, indoorgoals.com).
Soccer is undoubtedly the most popular team sport in Portland. Most youth soccer leagues in Portland proper are under the auspices of the Portland Youth Soccer Association (503-646-6683, portlandyouthsoccer.com). In the suburbs and the rest of the state, the Oregon Youth Soccer Association (503-626-4625, 800-275-7533, oregonyouthsoccer.org) oversees the majority of youth soccer leagues and games; the OYSA’s counterpart across the Columbia is Washington Youth Soccer (877-424-4318, washingtonyouthsoccer.org). Adult footballers bow to the mighty Oregon Adult Soccer Association (503-292-1814, oregonadultsoccer.com), which coordinates various soccer leagues, including those in the Greater Portland Soccer District (gpsdsoccer.com). In Washington, the Washington State Adult Soccer Association (425-485-7855, wssa.org) deals with adult soccer play. Northwest United Women’s Soccer (oregonwomenssoccer.com) organizes women-only leagues in metro Portland.
Several indoor soccer facilities organize league play on astro-turfed, hockey rink–like fields. Portland-area indoor soccer arenas include Portland Indoor Soccer (418 SE Main St, 503-231-6368, pdxindoorsoccer.com); the Mittleman Jewish Community Center (6651 SW Capitol Hwy, 503-244-0111, oregonjcc.org); Salmon Creek Indoor Sports (110 NW 139th St, Vancouver, 360-571-7628, scsoccerarena.com); Soccerplex (8785 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 503-297-4145, soccerplex.com); Indoor Goals (16340 NW Bethany Ct, Beaverton, 503-629-9500, indoorgoals.com); and Tualatin Indoor Soccer (11883 SW Itel St, Tualatin, 503-885-9300, tualatinindoor.com).
Futsal, a Brazilian variant of indoor soccer that dispenses with walls, is growing in popularity. Dedicated venues for the sport include:
- Portland Futsal, 3401 SE 17th Ave, 503-238-8725, portlandfutsal.com
- Rose City Futsal, 5010 NE Oregon St, 503-734-2382, rosecityfutsal.com
Softball and Baseball
The Portland Metro Softball Association (PMSA) (portlandsoftball.com) offers one-stop shopping for all your organized softball needs. PMSA coordinates play for thousands of players and hundreds of teams, including men’s, women’s, and co-ed teams. The Northwest Independent Baseball League (nwibl.org) has a roster of adult baseball teams, including semi-pro teams.
Other Team Sports
- Oregon Cricket League, oregoncricketleague.org, for those who prefer their British sport with more tea breaks and fewer cracked ribs
- Portlandfootball.com, portlandfootball.com, is a dedicated flag football league.
- Portland Steelheads, portlandfooty.com, Australian rules football
- Lacrosse Northwest, 503-295-7774, laxnw.com, youth and adult lacrosse
- US Lacrosse (Oregon chapter), oregonlax.com, youth and adult lacrosse
Portlandia satirized these adult sports leagues in a sketch involving an adult hide-and-seek league:
- Recesstime Sports Leagues, 503-381-5056, recesstimesports.com, organizes leagues in dodgeball, kickball, ping pong, and bowling.
- Underdog Sports Leagues, 503-282-1155, underdogportland.com, sponsors coed kickball, flag football, dodgeball, volleyball, bowling, and mini golf leagues.
- Oregon Rugby Sports Union Club, orsu.org, men’s and women’s rugby
- Portland Rugby Club, portlandrugby.org, men’s and women’s rugby
Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf
Many Portland parks have adequate space for a casual game of Frisbee. If Ultimate Frisbee is your game of choice, the Portland Ultimate Flying-Disc Federation (portlandultimate.org) coordinates league play and designates times and places for pick-up games.
Disc golf is played at a growing number of Portland-area parks. Oregon Disc Golf (www.oregondiscgolf.com) maintains an up-to-date list of Pacific Northwest disc golf courses on its website, and provides detailed descriptions of each course as well as links to regional disc golf events, leagues, and clubs.
While there are no real recreational dive sites in Portland proper—you wouldn’t really want to encounter the sorts of things you might find in the murky lower Willamette—the area nonetheless nurtures an active dive community. Hood Canal in Washington State (an arm of Puget Sound) is a popular dive destination that’s not too far away, and there are plenty of challenging dives off the Oregon Coast. High-altitude lakes in the Oregon Cascades, such as Crater Lake and Waldo Lake, offer visibility approaching 100 feet and are popular destinations for divers with proper equipment and training. If you’d like to get certified in advance of a trip to someplace like Belize or Palau, check with one of the clubs listed below for recommendations, or look online or in the Yellow Pages under “Scuba Diving Instruction” for a list of scuba schools.
The following are a few local scuba resources and dive clubs. (If you’re looking for a different kind of dive club, perhaps one with dim lights and plenty of Pabst Blue Ribbon, try looking under “Nightclubs and Discos” in the Cultural Life chapter.)
- Northwest Dive Club, nwdiveclub.com
- Oregon Scuba Club, oregonscuba.com
- Pacific NW Scuba, pnwscuba.com
Surfing at the Oregon Coast is at best a full wetsuit proposition. Much of the coastline is viable surfing territory for the suitably skilled and equipped, but many Oregon surfers are reluctant to divulge the locations of their favorite breaks. (Be aware that surfers in certain towns are notorious for a “locals only” attitude, especially when they encounter vehicles with out-of-state plates.) For basic information about surfing in Oregon, visit oregonsurf.com. One professional surfing event, the Nelscott Reef Tow (nelscottreef.com), in which jet skis tow surfers into position, takes place off Lincoln City.
Some of the world’s best windsurfing is found in the nearby Columbia River Gorge; the sheer-sided gorge serves as a wind tunnel for air moving between the Columbia Basin and the Willamette Valley, which means that afternoon winds are generally strong and reliable. The Oregon windsurfing capital is Hood River, about an hour east of Portland. The town is filled with windsurf-related businesses—even the local Full Sail brewery is named in honor of the sport. Hood River and the Oregon Coast are both major destinatiosn for kiteboarding, a sport in which a rider on a small kiteboard or surfboard is pulled along by a large kite or sail; sustained gusts or large waves can give the rider serious air-time.
Any boardsport store can help with rental equipment or lessons. If you’re a first timer, it’s probably most efficient to start in Hood River. In Portland, try Gorge Performance (7400 SW Macadam Ave, 503-246-6646, gorgeperformance.com).
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has become very popular in the last few years, thanks in part to its gentle learning curve and its suitability to a wide range of locations and water conditions. Warm summer days even see SUPers maneuvering around the Willamette River downtown like confused gondoliers. Boardsport stores and even canoe and kayak stores typically offer SUP sales, rentals, and lessons.
When the first wave of hot weather strikes Portland, many people head for nearby streams like the Sandy River and Clackamas River. Because the rivers are usually still frigid and full of snowmelt, however, drownings and deaths by hypothermia (often exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption) make the news every year. That said, water temperatures usually warm up nicely by July in most area lakes and rivers. The Pacific is a different story; only the very hardy (or foolhardy) can stand to remain in the ocean in Oregon for very long without a wetsuit.
Public swimming beaches in the Portland region include:
- Blue Lake Regional Park, 20500 NE Marine Dr, Fairview, 503-665-4995, oregonmetro.gov/parks/blue-lake-regional-park, has a very popular swimming beach.
- Henry Hagg Lake, 503-846-8715, co.washington.or.us/hagglake/, at Scoggins Valley Park in Gaston, south of Forest Grove, nestles in the foothills of the Coast Range; the water here warms up into the mid-70s in high summer, but watch out for sudden drop-offs.
- Rooster Rock State Park, 503-695-2261, oregonstateparks.org, hugs the shore of the Columbia River east of Troutdale (at Exit 25 off Interstate 84). The park offers two swimming beaches, one of which is a designated clothing-optional beach.
- Sauvie Island has a couple of beaches on the Columbia River (basically at the end of the island’s road). The beaches, which can be steep when water levels are low, offer interesting views of passing barges and oceangoing cargo ships; nearby Collins Beach (an officially designated clothing-optional beach) offers views of a different kind.
- Vancouver Lake, 6801 NW Lower River Rd, Vancouver, 360-619-1111, clark.wa.gov/parks-trails/vancouverlake.html; the lake has a designated swimming area, and water quality is regularly monitored for excessive amounts of E. coli bacteria and blooms of toxic blue-green algae. (That is supposed to make you feel safe, by the way.) The lake is closed to swimming when bacteria counts exceed acceptable levels.
Portland Parks and Recreation operates six indoor pools (open year-round) and seven outdoor pools (open mid-June through early September). Pools have scheduled times for lap swimming, open play, family play, and water exercise classes; the indoor pools at Mt. Scott Community Center and Southwest Community Center have separate children’s water play areas with spraying water toys and 115-foot waterslides. For information call 503-823-SWIM or visit portlandoregon.gov/parks/38284.
If you live outside Portland, check with your local parks and recreation department (listed in the Useful Phone Numbers and Websites chapter) for aquatic centers and outdoor pools in your area. Note that many area health clubs also have swimming facilities.
Sometime in November, as raindrops keep falling on their heads and white flakes start to pile up in the Cascades, the thoughts of many Portlanders turn to winter sports. Transplants from outside the Northwest will notice four distinctive features of snow in this region. First, it tends to be heavy and wet: particularly at lower elevations on the west side of the Cascades, Oregon’s climate is not cold and dry enough to reliably produce the kind of powder that falls in the Rockies, and the result is sometimes referred to derisively as “Cascade concrete.” Second, there’s usually lots of the stuff: even in an average year snowfall totals exceed 40 feet in places like Crater Lake, while in exceptional years truly monumental levels can accumulate. (In February 1999, the Mount Baker ski area in Washington state had to close for several days because 70 feet of snow had buried the chair lifts.) Third, it sticks around: several ski areas regularly stay open into June, and Timberline’s Palmer Snowfield, high on Mount Hood, is open almost year-round. (Timberline is a popular summer training center for Olympic skiers and snowboarders.) And last, it doesn’t fall much at low elevations: to get your snow fix, you’ll have to head east and uphill.
If you plan to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or just play in the snow, you’ll need to get a Sno-Park permit. If you park in a designated Winter Recreation Area—and most places you’ll park for winter sports and snow play will be so designated—between November 15 (December 1 in Washington) and April 30, you must display a permit inside your windshield. (The fees from the permit program pay for snow removal in the parking areas.) You can buy a permit at some government offices and most ski areas and sporting goods stores. One-day permits for Oregon cost $4, three-day permits cost $9, and season permits cost $25; in Washington, one-day permits cost $20 and seasonal and special groomed trail permits cost $40. Vendors generally charge an additional convenience fee. Oregon honors Sno-Park permits issued by California and Idaho (and vice-versa). Neither Washington nor Oregon honors the other state’s Sno-Park permits.
For more information, or for a map of winter parking areas where permits are required, visit oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages/vehicle/sno_park_permits.aspx (for Oregon) or parks.wa.gov/winter/permits/ (for Washington).
For information about chain and traction tire requirements for winter driving, see the Transportation chapter.
Downhill Skiing And Snowboarding
The most popular and developed ski areas in the state are on Mount Hood and elsewhere in the northern Oregon Cascades, one to four hours from Portland. The closest ski areas to Portland are:
- Cooper Spur Mountain Resort, 541-352-6692, cooperspur.com; this old-school, family-friendly ski area on the east side of Mount Hood has one chair lift, a rope tow, and an inner tube tow.
- Hoodoo, 541-822-3799, hoodoo.com; closer to Salem and Eugene than to Portland, Hoodoo offers five lifts and two rope tows serving 800 skiable acres, with a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs.
- Mt. Bachelor, 541-382-2442, 800-829-2442, mtbachelor.com; not really a day trip, Mt. Bachelor is 20 miles west of Bend, in Central Oregon. Despite the distance from Portland, Mt. Bachelor’s weather (sunnier than Mount Hood) and generally good snow conditions, combined with nearly 3,700 acres of skiable terrain, make it a popular destination. Mt. Bachelor is usually open into late spring.
- Mt. Hood Meadows, 503-337-2222, 800-SKI-HOOD, skihood.com; with 11 lifts, including five high-speed quads, Meadows is the largest ski area on Mount Hood. Including a snowcat skiing option, Meadows has almost a 4,000-foot vertical, and its location on the mountain’s east side gives it noticeably more sun. On the downside, it’s a slightly longer drive from Portland than Timberline or Skibowl.
- Mt. Hood Skibowl, 503-272-3206, 800-SKI-BOWL, skibowl.com; this large ski area has a large number of black diamond runs and is the closest ski area to Portland; because of its relatively low base elevation, snow conditions can be iffy during winter warm spells. In summer, Skibowl turns into an adrenaline sports park.
- Summit Ski Area, 503-272-0256, summitskiarea.com; perched above the rest area at Government Camp, near Mount Hood, this small ski, snowboard, and tubing area opened in 1927 and is the oldest ski area in the Northwest. Summit is good for beginning skiers, but not very challenging for anyone beyond novice level.
- Timberline, 503-272-3158, 800-547-1406, timberlinelodge.com; with an annual average snowfall of more than 400 inches, Timberline usually has the deepest snow base of any Oregon ski area, and has a stunning setting high on the south slope of Mount Hood. Fans of The Shining will recognize Timberline’s Depression-era lodge.
Most of Oregon’s large ski areas, and some of the small ones, offer night skiing. Mt. Hood Skibowl claims to have the largest night ski area in the country. If you don’t own your own equipment, rentals are available at outdoor stores in the Portland area; in Sandy, Welches, and other communities along Highway 26 on the way to Mount Hood; and at the ski areas themselves.
Farther afield, several ski areas in eastern and southern Oregon have small or nonexistent crowds. Anthony Lakes (anthonylakes.com), in the Blue Mountains near Baker City, usually has the best powder and some of the most challenging terrain in the state. Many diehard Portland skiers and riders make the seven-plus-hour trek north to British Columbia’s Whistler Blackcomb resort (whistlerblackcomb.com), venue for most of the outdoor events of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Several Portland-area ski and snowboard clubs sponsor outings, races, lessons, and social events. For a fairly complete list of local clubs, visit the Northwest Ski Club Council website, nwskiers.org.
Nordic and Telemark Skiing
The mid-to-high elevations of Oregon’s national forests are laced with Nordic (cross-country) ski trails for all abilities. Extensive trail networks radiate out from Government Camp on Mount Hood, Santiam Pass east of Salem, and in the Mount Bachelor area near Bend. There are several good guidebooks to cross-country ski routes in Oregon and Washington (see A Portland Reading List for suggestions). Telemark skiers have abundant opportunities as well; for a memorable experience, do a spring ascent of Mount St. Helens on a clear day, and ski most of the way down (permit required).
Novice snowshoers (and occasionally large dogs) sometimes obliterate ski tracks on some cross-country routes. To guarantee a clear trail, try one of the following groomed trail networks:
- Cooper Spur Nordic Center (541-352-6692, cooperspur.com), near Cooper Spur Ski Area on the east side of Mount Hood, has 6.5 kilometers of groomed trails.
- Mount Hood Meadows Nordic Center (503-337-2222, 800-SKI-HOOD, skihood.com), off Highway 35 on the southeast side of Mount Hood, maintains 15 kilometers of groomed trails.
- Mount Bachelor Nordic Center (800-829-2442, mtbachelor.com), near Bend in central Oregon, offers 56 kilometers of groomed trails, and includes a Nordic freestyle terrain park.
- Teacup Lake Nordic (teacupnordic.org) offers a 20-kilometer network of groomed trails off Highway 35 on the east side of Mount Hood.
Snowshoeing has exploded in popularity in the last five years, The sport has several attractions: it’s free (apart from the cost of renting or buying the snowshoes), it requires no special skills or training, and it can be done pretty much anywhere there is a snowed-over road or trail. If you’re following a ski trail, please be courteous and keep to one side to avoid obliterating ski tracks.
If you’d like to try snowshoeing, but don’t want to set out on your own, Portland Parks and Recreation (503-823-PLAY, portlandparks.org) offers several snowshoe excursions each winter.
Snowmobiling is allowed on many national forest roads and trails; access is generally from sno-parks or from private resorts. For more information, contact the Oregon State Snowmobiling Association, oregonsnow.org.
Other Recreational Activities
- Portland International Raceway (West Delta Park, 1940 N Victory Blvd, 503-823-7223, portlandraceway.com) hosts a variety of auto races and other motorsport events.
- The Woodburn Dragstrip (7730 Highway 219, Woodburn, 503-982-4461, woodburndragstrip.com), located in the Willamette Valley between Portland and Salem, generally limits its offerings to drag races.
Billiards and Pool
Many bars around Portland have pool tables, but for a dedicated pool hall ambiance try one of the following establishments:
- Hot Shots Westside Family Billiards, 4900 SW Western Ave, Beaverton, 503-644-8869, hotshotspool.com
- Rialto Poolroom Bar & Café, 529 SW 4th Ave, 503-228-7605, rialtopoolroom.com
- Sam’s Billiards, 1845 NE 41st Ave, 503-282-8266, portlandpoolhall.com
- Uptown Billiards Club, 120 NW 23rd Ave, 503-226-6909, uptownbilliards.com
Some might argue that it’s more a sport (or a way of life) than a pastime, but however you classify it, bowling is a popular activity. Most bowling alleys host at least one, and usually several, bowling leagues; check with the alley for signup information, or visit the website of the U.S. Bowling Conference Greater Portland (gpusbc.com). Alleys are sometimes completely reserved for tournaments, league play, or birthday parties, so check the alley’s website or call first to find out when open bowling is available. If ordinary bowling is too tame for your taste, most area lanes offer glow-in-the-dark bowling and other jazzed-up versions of the game.
The Portland metropolitan area has about two dozen bowling alleys; the lanes listed below are the most centrally located. Some close-in alleys, such as the venerable Hollywood Bowl, have closed in recent years to make way for retail developments and apartment complexes. For more suburban options, look online or peruse the Yellow Pages listings for “Bowling.”
- AMF Pro 300 Lanes, 3031 SE Powell Blvd, 503-234-0237, amf.com/pro300lanes/
- Grand Central Restaurant and Bowling Lounge, 808 SE Morrison St, 503-236-2695, thegrandcentralbowl.com
There is also a little-known bowling alley in the Viking Gameroom in the basement of the Smith Memorial Student Union at Portland State University (pdx.edu/gameroom/bowling). There are only six lanes, but the prices cannot be beat.
If you prefer your bowling outdoors, the Portland Lawn Bowling Club (portlandlawnbowling.org) has a clubhouse and green in Westmoreland Park, at Southeast 22nd Ave and Bybee Blvd. If your tastes lean to the even more esoteric, note that this green is also used by the Portland Pétanque Club, pdxpetanque.org. The Portland Bocce League (portlandbocce.com) plays on the bocce courts on the North Park Blocks.
The Oregon Lottery (oregonlottery.org) promotes scratchoffs, Powerball tickets, and the video poker machines that infest every darkly lit tavern in town (while halfheartedly reminding Oregonians that lottery games should not be played for investment purposes). For real casino games like blackjack and dollar slots you’ll have to visit a tribal casino. Indian casinos are among the state’s biggest attractions, and although there are no casinos in the metropolitan area, other than three cardrooms in La Center in northern Clark County, the following establishments are within a two-hour drive:
- Chinook Winds Casino Resort, 1777 NW 44th St, Lincoln City (Oregon Coast), 541-996-5825, 888-CHINOOK, chinookwindscasino.com
- Indian Head Casino, 3236 Hwy 26, Warm Springs (Warm Springs Reservation), 541-460-7777, indianheadgaming.com
- Spirit Mountain Casino, 27100 SW Salmon River Hwy, Grande Ronde (west of Salem), 503-879-2350, 800-760-7977, spiritmountain.com
The Portland Chess Club (503-246-2978, pdxchess.com) organizes tournaments and casual play for all ages. Local organizations that focus on younger players include the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation (oscf.org) and Chess for Success (chessforsuccess.org). Northwest Chess (nwchess.com) is an excellent source of information about chess in the region, including chess news, tournaments, activities, and club listings.
If you’re interested in pursuing dance moves that go beyond random nightclub gyrations, you’ll have plenty of company. Portland harbors a wide range of dance-oriented clubs that offer lessons, organize competitions, and host dances. Portland Dancing (portlanddancing.com) is a clearinghouse of information on clubs and events, and covers styles ranging from Lindy Hop to country line dancing and from salsa and tango to Israeli folk dancing. You can also check Willamette Week or the A&E section of the Friday Oregonian for dance events and get-togethers. For formal dance instruction, check online or look in the Yellow Pages under “Dance Instruction.”
The horses are on the track from October through May at Portland Meadows (1001 N Schmeer Rd, 503-285-9144, portlandmeadows.com) at Delta Park in North Portland.
The Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club, 2505 N Vancouver Ave, 503-288-7246, cgmrc.com, owns its own building, which contains a truly amazing 500+ square foot scale model of train lines in the Columbia River Gorge. Farther south, you might want to look into Pacific Northwest Live Steamers, 503-829-6866, pnls.org, which operates Shady Dell Train Park just east of Molalla, open to the general public May through October.
In addition to the private studios listed below, Portland Parks and Recreation (503-823-PLAY, portlandparks.org) offers yoga classes at many of its facilities; check its website or its seasonal printed catalogs for details. Some health clubs also offer yoga classes to members, as do many spas and wellness centers. While yoga is probably the most popular “alternative” fitness regimen in Portland, the city is replete with studios for Pilates, CrossFit, and other forms of non-traditional strength and fitness training. The following is a non-comprehensive list of establishments that are solely yoga studios:
- Amrita, 0110 SW Bancroft St, 503-552-YOGA, dayafoundation.org
- Bikram Fremont Street, 4831 NE Fremont St, 503-284-0555, bikramfremontstreet.com
- Gudmestad Yoga Studio, 3903 SW Kelly, Suite 210, 593-223-8157, gudmestadyoga.com
- The Movement Center, 1021 NE 33rd Ave, 503-231-0383. mcyoga.com
- North Portland Yoga, 55 NE Farragut St #1, 503-995-3570, northportlandyoga.com
- OmBase, 6357 SW Capitol Hwy, 503-922-3100, ombase.org
- Portland Yoga Arts, 4400 NE Glisan St, 503-287-1078, portlandyogaarts.com
- Yoga Bhoga, 1028 SE Water Ave #265, 503-241-5058, yogabhoga.com
- Yoga Pearl, 925 NW Davis St, 503-525-9642, yogapearl.com
- The Yoga Project, 1229 SE Nehalem St, 503-235-1155, theyogaproject.org
- Yoga Shala, 3808 N Williams St, 503-963-YOGA; yogashalapdx.com
- Yo Yo Yogi, 1306 NW Hoyt St, Ste 101, 503-688-5120, yoyoyogi.com
Portland is full of health clubs and gyms. Most have workout equipment, conditioning classes, and personal training programs, and some offer swimming pools, yoga, specialized workouts, and childcare. Call or visit the club you’re interested in to get details on their programs.
If you work for a reasonably large organization, ask human resources about membership discounts for fitness clubs. Note that the health club business is generally one without fixed prices; the dripping person on the adjacent treadmill may have paid twice as much or half as much as you did. Also, it pays to read the fine print on any agreement; the terms “annual membership” and “no fees” may not mean what you think they do. Even if everything looks good, the fitness business has some shady operators that have been known to skip town and padlock clubs; try to avoid paying for a year in advance, for example. Be aware that many clubs offer frequent promotions—membership fee discounts or waivers, the first month at half price, free seven-day passes, and the like—so if you’re in no hurry to join a club it might be worth waiting to see if a better deal comes up.
The following partial list of Portland health clubs should help you start your search. For a complete list, do an online search for clubs in your desired neighborhood, or check the Yellow Pages under “Health Clubs.” In addition to private clubs, many municipal community centers have exercise facilities; check with your local parks and recreation department for details.
- Cascade Athletic Club, 9260 SE Stark St, 503-257-4142; 2456 SE Powell Blvd, Gresham, 503-618-4142; 19201 SE Division St. Gresham, 503-665-4142; 16096 SE 15th St, Vancouver, 360-597-1100; cascadeac.com; a FitLife network member (see below)
- ClubSport Oregon, 18120 SW Lower Boones Ferry Rd, Tigard, 503-968-4500, clubsports.com/Oregon; a FitLife network club
- Curves, 800-848-1096, curves.com; this worldwide network of franchised women-only fitness clubs has more than 40 locations around the metropolitan area.
- East & West Side Athletic Clubs, 555 SW Oak St, 503-222-7800; 9100 SE Sunnyside Rd, Clackamas, 503-659-3846; 4606 SE Boardman, Milwaukie, 503-659-3845; eastsideathleticclub.com; these clubs are FitLife network members.
- The FitLife Club Network includes dozens of independent fitness clubs in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, including some 20 clubs in the Portland metro area. Members of each club get reciprocal use of other member clubs. Visit fitlifeclubs.com or call 503-445-6235 for a list of network clubs.
- Hollywood Fitness, 5223 NE Sandy Blvd, 503-281-4776, hollywoodfitness.net
- The Green Microgym, 1237 NE Alberta St; 7703 SE 13th Ave; 503-933-2230, thegreenmicrogym.com; where else can you ride a stationary bike that generates electricity for the building? A separately licensed green gym (The Green Microgym Belmont, 828 SE 34th Ave, Ste B, 503-313-6216, thegreenmicrogymbelmont.com) is located in the Belmont Street neighborhood.
- LA Fitness, lafitness.com, has 11 locations in the region.
- Lloyd Athletic Club, 815 NE Halsey St, 503-287-4594, lloydac.com; a FitLife network club
- Loprinzi’s Gym, 2414 SE 41st Ave, 503-232-8311, loprinzisgym.com; this unpretentious, old-school-style neighborhood gym offers affordable, pay-as-you go memberships.
- Mittleman Jewish Community Center, 6551 SW Capitol Hwy, 503-244-0111, oregonjcc.org
- The venerable Multnomah Athletic Club, 1849 SW Salmon St, 503-223-6251, themac.com, has long been a place where Portland’s movers and shakers could, well, move and shake, as well as hobnob. The eight-story clubhouse and 600-car parking garage remind you that you are not in Kansas anymore, as does the ban on “manual labor work clothes” in the lobby areas. (Seriously.) Sadly for would-be Gatsbys, with a few exceptions (e.g., legacy members and spouses of current members) MAC membership is by annual lottery.
- Nautilus Plus OC, 10466 SE Main St, Milwaukie, 503-659-4111; 1715 S Beavercreek Rd, Oregon City, 503-657-7717; nautilusoc.com
- Northwest Women’s Fitness Club, 2714 NE Broadway, 503-287-0655, nwwomensfitness.com
- Sunset Athletic Club, 13939 NW Cornell Rd, 503-645-3535, sunsetac.com; a FitLife network club
- 24 Hour Fitness, 800-224-0240, 24hourfitness.com, has 14 locations in the Portland area.
- West Coast Fitness, 2640 NE Alberta St, 503-288-4500; 2310 N Lombard St, 503-688-5130; 7522 N Lombard St, 503-283-5404; pdxgym.com; a FitLife network club
- The YMCA (ymcacw.org) has three family fitness centers: 9685 SW Harvest Ct, Beaverton, 503-644-2191; 11324 NE 51st Circle, Vancouver, 360-885-9622; 23000 SW Pacific Hwy, Sherwood, 503-625-9622
Sporting Goods Stores
Whether you’re heading out of town for a two-week backpack on the Pacific Crest Trail or spending an hour at the park with a Frisbee, you may need to go shopping first. Portlanders take their sports and recreational activities seriously, so there’s no shortage of places to find just the right equipment. The following list should get you started. If you’re not sure whether you want or need to buy an expensive item, inquire about testing or renting.
- Andy and Bax, 324 SE Grand Ave, 503-234-7538, andyandbax.com, sells military surplus goods as well as more mainstream camping and outdoor equipment.
- Big 5 Sporting Goods, 800-898-2994, big5sportinggoods.com, has 10 stores in the Portland-Vancouver area.
- Cabela’s, 7555 SW Nyberg St, Tualatin, 503-822-2000, cabelas.com, specializes in hunting and fishing equipment and clothing.
- ClimbMax Mountaineering, 626 NE Broadway, 503-816-0207, 800-895-0048, climbmaxmountaineering.com, is one of the best mountaineering equipment stores in the United States.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods, 877-846-9997, dickssportinggoods.com, has five Portland-area locations.
- Montbell, 902 SW Yamhill St, 971-271-8871, montbell.us; the U.S. flagship store for Japanese outdoor equipment company Montbell.
- Mountain Hard Wear, 722 SW Taylor St, 503-226-6868, mountainhardwear.com
- Mountain Shop, 1510 NE 37th Ave, 503-288-6768, mountainshop.net
- Next Adventure, 426 SE Grand Ave, 503-233-0706, nextadventure.net, sells both new and used equipment.
- Oregon Mountain Community, 2975 NE Sandy Blvd, 503-227-1038, omcgear.com
- Play It Again Sports, 9244 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, 503-292-4552; 8101 NE Parkway Dr, Vancouver, 360-260-9440; playitagainsports.com; these stores focus on used (and thus generally affordable) sports equipment, but they also stock some new sporting goods.
- REI, 1405 NW Johnson St, 503-221-1938; 7410 SW Bridgeport Rd, Tualatin, 503-624-8600; 2235 NW Allie Ave, Hillsboro, 503-617-6072; 12160 SE 82nd Ave, Clackamas, 503-659-1156; rei.com; Seattle-based REI (short for Recreational Equipment Incorporated) is the country’s largest consumer cooperative. Members receive an annual dividend based on their total purchases over the previous year.
- Snow Peak, 410 NW 14th Ave, 503-697-3330, snowpeak.com; this is the North American flagship store for a Japanese outdoor equipment company.
- Sports Authority, sportsauthority.com, is the country’s largest sporting goods retailer; there are five stores in the metro area.
- US Outdoor Store, 219 SW Broadway, 503-223-5937, usoutdoor.com