A few months ago, Dimity described her three favorite places to run in Denver, where she lives. Now it’s my turn: I'm serving up a trio of great places to run in Portland, Oregon.
Leif Erikson Drive: Ignore the “drive” part in this options name: It’s an 11.2-mile long fire road closed to vehicles, nestled in the hills of the northwest quadrant of the city. It’s wide, relatively smooth packed dirt "road" that winds through Forest Park, one of the country’s largest urban forest reserves. Shaded by towering trees, like Douglas firs, red alders, and western hemlocks, with beautiful ferns and abundant moss covering the ground (and trees!), it stays cool in the summer and somewhat protected during Portland’s frequent “liquid sunshine” (read: rain). Numerous single-track trails branch off of Leif Erikson, allowing you to explore and make every run unique.
Waterfront Park: This is my go-to suggestion for folks staying downtown, as it’s almost literally a stone’s throw from many hotels. It’s a roughly 3-mile loop that hugs both the west and east side of the Willamette River, the waterway that bisects the Rose City. The paved route runs between the Steel Bridge on the north and the Hawthorne Bridge to the south (although you can easily add mileage by heading north on the west side or south on the east side). There are several water fountains along the route, frequented by numerous runners, walkers, and cyclists. (And, yes, homeless people: You're likely to pass several camped out along the riverbanks or sleeping on benches.) Nifty note: Twelve-hundred feet of the Eastbank Esplanade section is a floating walkway, the longest of its kind in the U.S.
Terwilliger Parkway: Another popular running route with a misleading name, but break this one down into its parts: park + way. Terwilliger seems like a winding road with a very wide, well-lit sidewalk up a heavily wooded hillside, but it is actually a roughly 2.25-mile linear park designed by a landscape architect and intended for active enjoyment. Located a quarter-mile south of downtown, it’s another great destination for vacationers or business travelers. If your trip to Portland calls for a long run, you can wind your way from Waterfront Park, up Terwilliger, and on to Tryon Creek State Park—as long as you don’t mind some climbing. Heading south, Terwilliger is almost a continual climb. Not too steep, but it’s consistent. There’s a water fountain and restrooms about a third of the way up Terwilliger, and a water fountain awaits runners at the top.