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Bicycling

Bicycling is a cultural phenomenon in Portland—likely the most beloved mode of transportation in the city. Besides the sheer numbers of cyclists you see on roads and pathways, you'll find well-marked bike lanes and signs reminding motorists to yield to cyclists.

There are more than 320 miles of bicycle boulevards, lanes, and off-street paths in Portland. Accessible maps, specialized tours, parking capacity (including lockers and sheltered racks downtown), and bicycle-only traffic signals at confusing intersections make biking in most neighborhoods easy. Cyclists can find the best routes by following green direction-and-distance signs that point the way around town, and the corresponding white dots on the street surface.

Educators, advocates, riding groups, businesses, and the city government are working toward making Portland even more bike-friendly and safe. An intended 950-plus miles of bike paths are planned over the next two decades. Despite the occasionally daunting hills and frequent wintertime rain, cycling remains one of the best ways to see what Portland offers.

Cycling in Portland has evolved into a medium for progressive politics and public service. Several bike co-ops in the city are devoted to providing used bikes at decent prices, as well as to teaching bike maintenance and the economic and environmental benefits of becoming a two-wheel commuter. Check out the helpful Bike Portland (www.bikeportland.org) website for information on regularly scheduled bike events, cycling-related local news and advice, and referrals to reliable bike rental, sales, and repair shops.

Bike Rentals

Fat Tire Farm. For treks in Forest Park, rent mountain bikes at Fat Tire Farm, which is close to the park's Leif Erikson trailhead. The staff here really knows their stuff, from repair and maintenance help to advice on the best trails and routes. 2714 N.W. Thurman St., Nob Hill, Portland, OR, 97210. 503/222–3276. www.fattirefarm.com.

Waterfront Bicycle Rentals. For jaunts along the Willamette River, Waterfront Bicycles has everything a visiting bicyclist needs. There is a variety of styles and sizes of bikes to outfit the entire family, including balance bikes for the little rider. Reservations can be made online at least 48 hours ahead. Guided bike tours are offered as well. 10 S.W. Ash St., Suite 100, Downtown, Portland, OR, 97204. 503/227–1719. www.waterfrontbikes.com.

Bike Routes

If you’re a social rider, group rides set out from several local shops. Check the events pages of Bike Gallery (www.bikegallery.com), River City Bicycles (www.rivercitybicycles.com), and Bike Portland (www.bikeportland.org).

Bike paths line both sides of the Willamette River through downtown, so you can easily make a mild, several-mile loop through Waterfront Park via the Steel, Hawthorne, or Sellwood bridges.

Bicycling Sauvie Island’s 12-mile loop is a rare treat. Situated near the mouth of the Willamette River and Columbia Slough, the island is entirely rural farmland. Besides the main loop, the island offers out-and-back jaunts to beaches and pristine wetlands. To get to Sauvie Island from Portland, you can undertake the 10-mile ride in the wide bike lane of U.S. 30 or shuttle your bike there via TriMet Bus 16.

The Columbia Historic Highway begins 17 miles east of Portland on U.S. 84 and rolls almost 90 miles along the Columbia River Gorge. This National Scenic Area will take you past a series of thundering waterfalls towards sporty Hood River, Oregon. You can shorten the route by turning around after the awe-inspiring river view at Mile 12, or after a breathtaking descent to Multnomah Falls at Mile 18. Many riders begin and end at McMenamins Edgefield, a funky, historic resort where anyone (not just guests) can get a warm shower, cold beer, and good meal. Reach the Edgefield by bike or shuttle there via TriMet’s Bus 77.

The Springwater Corridor, when combined with the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade ride on the east side of the Willamette, can take you all the way from downtown to the far reaches of southeast Portland along a former railroad line. The 21-mile trail heads east beginning near Sellwood, close to Johnson Creek Boulevard.

Though much of Forest Park’s 70-plus miles of trails are reserved for hiking and non-biking activities, there are 28 miles of single track mountain-biking trails and fire lanes open to biking, including Leif Erikson Drive, an 11-mile ride whose dense canopy occasionally gives way to river views. Along the park’s trails you may come across old-growth forest as well as some of the park’s more than 100 species of animals and birds. To reach the Leif Erikson trailhead, bike up steep Thurman Street or shuttle there via TriMet Bus 15. Maps and information on the trails can be found at www.forestparkconservancy.org.

Department of Transportation. For information on bike routes and resources in and around Portland, visit the Department of Transportation website (look for the Active Transportation tab). You can download and view maps and learn about upcoming bike-related events and group rides. Portland, OR. 503/823–5490. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation.

Fishing

The Columbia and Willamette rivers are major sportfishing streams with opportunities for angling virtually year-round. Though you can still catch salmon here, runs have been greatly reduced in both rivers in recent years, and while cleaning efforts are ongoing, the Willamette River is still plagued by pollution. Nevertheless, the Willamette still offers prime fishing for bass, channel catfish, sturgeon, crappies, perch, panfish, and crayfish. It's also a good stream for winter steelhead. June is the top shad month, with some of the best fishing occurring below Willamette Falls at Oregon City. The Columbia River is known for its salmon, sturgeon, walleye, and smelt. The Sandy and Clackamas rivers, near Mt. Hood, are smaller waterways popular with local anglers.

Outfitters

Outfitters throughout Portland operate guide services. Few outfitters rent equipment, though, so bring your own or be prepared to buy.

Northwest Flyfishing Outfitters. For all things fly-fishing, including tackle, rentals, and guided outings, head here. Metro Portland destinations for the guided trips include the Clackamas and Sandy rivers, as well as some nearby waterways in southwestern Washington. 10910 N.E. Halsey St., Hazelwood, Northeast, Portland, OR, 97220. 503/252–1529. www.flyshopnw.com.

Regulations

Local sport shops are the best sources of information on current fishing hot spots, which change from year to year.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Detailed fishing regulations are available from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. You can purchase nonresident licenses online or in person. The ODFW offices nearest to Portland are on Sauvie Island and in Clackamas. 17330 S.E. Evelyn St., Clackamas, OR, 97015. 503/947–6000 Clackamas; 503/621–3488 Sauvie Island. www.dfw.state.or.us.

Golf

There are several popular golf courses open to the public within and near Portland. Even in the wet months, Portlanders still golf—and you can bet the first clear day after a wet spell will mean courses fill up with those who have so faithfully waited for the sun. Depending upon the time of year, it's not a bad idea to call ahead and verify wait times.

Parks

The variety of Portland’s parks ensures that there’s something for just about everyone, from the world’s smallest park (Mill Ends) to one of the largest urban natural areas in the country (Forest Park).

Portland aspired to be a city of parks starting in 1852. Those first parks (now known as the Plaza Blocks and South Park Blocks) were designed to help residents enjoy the simple things in life, and to steer them away from those darker ones that tempted good Portlanders (ahem, beer). These days, more than 12,500 acres of parks and open spaces in more than 250 locations house six public gardens, about 200 parks, five golf courses, and thousands of acres of urban forest.

True to the city’s nicknames, Rose City or City of Roses, the fragrant favorite is found at many of the area’s parks. There is no one official reason for the city’s moniker, but many suggested ones. The first known reference was in 1888 at an Episcopal Church convention. And though the first Rose Festival was held in 1907, the city did not officially take the nickname until 2003.

No one can say that Portlanders don't have a sense of humor, because there is no other way to explain how Mill Ends Park —the world’s smallest city park, according to Guinness World Records—has survived since 1948. What started out as a hole where a light pole was supposed to go became the darling of Dick Fagan, a local journalist whose office overlooked it. Visit the hole—we mean park—at S.W. Naito Parkway and Taylor Street.

Blue Lake Regional Park. This park in suburban Troutdale, the gateway to the Columbia Gorge, has a swimming beach and a water spray ground that's packed on hot summer days. You can also fish and rent small boats here. The disc golf course is gold level accredited and this is a great place for a hike on the surrounding trails or for a picnic. 21224 NE Blue Lake Rd., Fairview, OR, 97024. 503/797–1850. www.oregonmetro.gov/parks.

Cathedral Park. Whether it's the view of the imposing and stunning Gothic St. John's Bridge, which rises some 400 feet above the Willamette River, or the historic significance of Lewis and Clark having camped here in 1806, this park is divine. Though there's no church, the park gets its name from the picturesque arches supporting the bridge. It's rumored that the ghost of a young girl haunts the bridge, and that may be true, but if you're told that it was designed by the same man who envisioned the Golden Gate Bridge, that's just a popular misconception. Dog lovers, or those who aren't, should take note of the off-leash area. N. Edison St. and Pittsburg Ave., St. John's, North, Portland, OR, 97203. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks.

Council Crest Park. The highest point in Portland, at 1,073 feet, this 43-acre bluff-top patch of greenery is a superb spot to take in sunsets and sunrises. Along with nearly 180-degree views of the Portland metro area, a clear day also affords views of the surrounding peaks—Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier. A bronze fountain depicting a mother and child has been erected in the park twice; first in the 1950s and the second in the 1990s. The peaceful piece was stolen in the 1980s, uncovered in a narcotics bust 10 years later, and then returned to the park. Trails connect Council Crest with Marquam Nature Park and Washington Park. It's quite busy on weekends so visit on a weekday, if possible. 3400 Council Crest Dr., West Hills, Portland, OR, 97239. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks.

Laurelhurst Park. Completed in 1914 by Emanuel Mische, who trained with the iconic Olmsted Brothers landscaping design firm, resplendent Laurelhurst Park's hundred-year-old trees and winding, elegant paths are evocative of another time, and may trigger an urge to don a parasol. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Laurelhurst offers plentiful trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, soccer fields, horseshoe pits, an off-leash area for dogs, a serene pond with ducks, and many sunny and shady picnic areas. Take a stroll around the large spring-fed pond and keep an eye out for blue heron, the city's official bird. On the south side of this 31-acre park is one of the busiest basketball courts in town. Though the park is always beautiful, it is especially so in fall. The trendy dining and café culture of East Burnside and 28th and Belmont Street are within walking distance. S.E. 39th Ave. and S.E. Stark St., Laurelhurst, Southeast, Portland, OR, 97214. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks.

Marquam Nature Park. Itching to get a hike in but no time to get out of Portland? Just minutes from downtown are 193 acres of greenery and 5 miles of trails to explore. No playgrounds or dog parks here, just peace and quiet. Maps of trails that range from 1 to 3.5 miles—some of them quite steep—are available at the shelter at the base of the trails and on the Friends of Marquam Park website. The park's Marquam Trail connects to Council Crest Park and continues through Washington and Forest parks. SW Marquam St. and SW Sam Jackson Park Rd., Homestead, Southwest, Portland, OR, 97239. www.fnmp.org.

Oaks Bottom Wild Refuge. Bring your binoculars, because birds are plentiful here; more than 400 species have been spotted, including hawks, quail, pintails, mallards, coots, woodpeckers, kestrels, widgeons, hummingbirds, and the sedately beautiful blue heron. The 140-acre refuge is a flood-plain wetland—rare because it is in the heart of the city. The hiking isn't too strenuous, but wear sturdy shoes, as it can get muddy; part of the park is on top of a landfill layered with soil. Southeast Portland's Springwater biking and pedestrian trail connects Oak Bottoms with downtown. SE 7th Ave. and SE Sellwood Ave., Sellwood, Southeast, Portland, OR, 97204. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks.

Peninsula Park & Rose Garden. The "City of Roses" moniker started here, at this park that harks back to another time. The city's oldest (1909) public rose garden (and the only sunken one) houses about 5,000 plantings of roses. The daunting task of deadheading all these flowers is covered in classes taught to volunteers twice a season. The bandstand is a historic landmark, and the last of its kind in the city. This 16-acre North Portland park also contains a 100-year-old fountain, Italian villa–inspired community center, playground, wading pool, tennis and volleyball courts, and picnic tables. 700 N. Rosa Parks Way, Piedmont, North, Portland, OR, 97217. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks.

Sauvie Island. If it's a day to take advantage of gorgeous weather then drive about a half-hour northwest of downtown to Sauvie Island. The island has a wildlife refuge, three beaches (including Collins Beach, which is clothing-optional), superb biking and hiking trails, and several farms offering "u-pick" bounty. To get to the beaches, take U.S. 30 north to Sauvie Island bridge, and turn right; follow N.W. Sauvie Island Road to Reeder Road and follow signs. There's plenty of parking at the beaches, but a permit is required ($7 for a one-day permit, available at the general store at the base of the bridge). N.W. Sauvie Island Rd., across Sauvie Island bridge at U.S. 30, Sauvie Island, OR, 97231. www.sauvieisland.org.

Sellwood Park. Nearly 8 acres of tall old pines make a visit here purely relaxing. A paved path circles the park and most of the action—ballpark, pool, football field, playground, and tennis court. Sellwood also sports a terrific location; Oaks Bottom Refuge, Oaks Amusement Park, and the Willamette River are nearby, and the Sellwood neighborhood has charming shops and restaurants, convenient for a takeout picnic. SE 7th Ave. and SE Miller St., Sellwood, Southeast, Portland, OR, 97202. www.portlandoregon.gov/parks.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area. Portland is chock-full of parks, but this is the only state park within city limits. And at 670 acres, there's plenty of room for all its admirers. The area was logged starting in the 1880s, and the natural regrowth has produced red alder, Douglas fir, big leaf maple, and western red cedar, giving home to more than 50 bird species. The eastern edge has a paved trail, in addition to 14 miles of trails for bikes, hikers, and horses. Before heading to the trails, stop by the nature center to check out the exhibits and topographical relief map. 11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd., Collins View, Southwest, Portland, OR, 97219. 503/636–4398. www.tryonfriends.org. Daily 7 am–8 pm, Nature Center 9–4.

Basketball

Portland Trail Blazers. The NBA's Portland Trail Blazers play their 82-game season in the Moda Center (aka Rose Garden Arena), which can hold up to 20,000 spectators. The MAX train pulls up just a couple blocks from the arena's front door. Moda Center, 1 N. Center Ct., Rose Quarter, North, Portland, OR, 97227. 503/797–9600. www.nba.com/blazers.

Soccer

Portland Timbers. Portland's major-league soccer team plays their 34-game season at the downtown Jeld-Wen Field from March through October. The city has many ardent soccer fans known as the Timbers Army. Sitting near this group means a raucous time with drumming, chanting, and cheers. The MAX stops right by the stadium. Jeld-Wen Field, 1844 SW Morrison St., Downtown, Portland, OR, 97205. 503/553–5555. www.portlandtimbers.com.