An affinity for biking is part of what makes Portland unique.
People in Portland love bike rides almost as much as perusing record stores and hiking. There are plenty of bike lanes and cycling shops spread across the city, so you’ll see people of all ages behind the handlebars. It’s ingrained into the very fiber of the city.
Seriously. Portlanders even celebrate the cycling culture with popular annual events like the World Naked Bike Ride, Pedalpalooza and the Bridge Pedal.
Seeing Rip City up close and personal on two wheels offers a unique perspective whether you’re commuting or just out for a workout. Scenic, safe and even some shortcuts, here are the best Portland bike rides.
Photo by Jake Borower
Downtown’s waterfront loop incorporates the Eastbank Esplanade and Waterfront Park into one 6-mile paved, flat, car-free stretch that is one of the city’s signature rides. Highlighted by sights of skyscrapers, boats drifting by on the Willamette River, and even a floating bike path, there are plenty of beautiful places to pull over for a break.
Start on either side of the river and then cross to the other using any of the bridges along the way. The city’s newest bridge, Tillamook Crossing, is closed to cars and a fun ride suspended over the water. This route is a great choice for enjoying some exercise on a sunny day or getting across town while laughing at cars stuck in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. Treat yourself to a pint from one of the many bars and breweries in the area afterward, you’ve earned it!
Tryon Creek Bike Path
Photo source: Splinster.com
Tryon Creek State Natural Area is Oregon’s only urban state park. Tryon Creek is in Portland’s heavily forested southwestern quadrant about 15 minutes outside of downtown.
The area’s winding, narrow streets aren’t the most hospitable towards cyclists, but the park provides a 2.5-mile paved bike path that makes biking through this stretch downright pleasant. As a result, this bike path offers all the draws of mountain biking with the smooth ride and accessibility of road cycling.
Cyclists commuting in the neighborhood or just looking for a pretty place to pedal will enjoy this route.
Marine Drive Trail
Photo source: alltrails.com
On the northeast border of the city and state, along the Columbia River lies the 10-mile, paved Marine Drive Trail. This area of North Portland isn’t heavily trafficked and the trail is not frequented by commuters, but that is a positive thing for those looking to take their bike out for a long, easy ride.
The river makes a beautiful backdrop and on a clear day, you can get a great view of the mountains in the distance. When it’s warm, this is also a great place to go for a swim with easy access to popular nearby sandy river beaches.
Photo source: Portland.gov
The Springwater Corridor is the longest part of a massive, 40-mile loop that connects a system of parks and greenways around Portland. This stretch begins at SE 4th Avenue and SE Ivon Street in Portland’s central east side and continues east all the way to the town of Boring, Oregon.
Along the way, riders will experience an array of different landscapes. You’ll see fields, pastures, forested areas and wetlands and again, those mountains in the distance. Thus, it’s a great leisurely scenic route.
However, if you’re commuting from just about anywhere on the east side of Portland, it’s a very quick and convenient route to downtown, and everywhere else along the way.
Council Crest Climb
Photo source: portland.gov
Council Crest Park sits atop the southwest hills as the highest point in Portland. At 1,073 feet above sea level, it’s quite the climb. It’s a serious workout, but the reward at the end is worth it. You’ll feel on top of the world looking out over the city with the sense of achievement that comes from burning thighs and an incredible view.
The park is accessible from anywhere on the west side and the tree-lined streets that wind their way up to the peak are beautiful, even as you whiz past them on your way back down.
Go by bike
Portlanders love traveling by bike. There are routes that will get you to your destination quickly and conveniently. There are also scenic routes that call you to explore and enjoy on your own schedule. Get out there to experience the city and the region’s natural beauty in a new light via Portland bike rides.