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With miles and miles of bike paths and bike lanes, cycling in Portland can be one of the best and most eco-friendly ways to see the city. The Rose City frequently hosts various cycling events, including Pedalpalooza, the World Naked Bike Ride and Sunday Parkways, where Portlanders come together to enjoy the city on two wheels.
As well as all the urban routes, there are plenty of trails and routes that can take you through nature with some stunning scenery to boot. We’ve put together a few of our favorite spots that you might want to check out.
5 Best Portland Biking Trails And Rides
1. Willamette River Loop (best road ride)
The Willamette River Loop is a 30-mile looped ride that runs along both sides of the Willamette River. The ride begins at the Salmon Springs Fountain in downtown Portland and follows the route of several paved off-road bike paths and on-road bike lanes. It offers great views of the city skyline and the river at various points along the route.
The ride is mostly flat, with a short section of uphill riding near the end of the ride once you’ve ridden past Tryon Creek State Natural Area.
The route travels through the cities of Milwaukie, Oregon City and Lake Oswego, so there are places to stop for refreshments. There are also several parks along the ride where you can find restrooms.
Surface Type: Paved/Sealed (sealed road with sections of paved bike paths)
Ride Difficulty: Medium – mostly flat with small stretches on-road with no bike lanes.
2. Trolley Trail Loop (best ride for families)
The Trolley Trail Loop is a paved bike path that links three different trails in order to loop back to where you start, after a 19-mile ride. These trails include the I-205 Multi-Use Trail, the Springwater Corridor and, of course, the Trolley Trail.
This ride begins at the Park and Ride next to the MAX light rail terminus at the corner of SE Park Avenue and SE McLoughlin Boulevard. After heading north, the ride takes you through several parks, including Milwaukie Bay Park, where you can take in the views over the river.
After you start to head east, the Springwater Corridor Trail runs through Tideman Johnson City Park, which is home to a variety of birds.
Surface Type: Paved
Ride Difficulty: Easy – mostly flat and on bike paths away from traffic.
3. Rocky Butte (best ride for views)
Rocky Butte is an extinct cinder cone from a volcano and stands at 613 feet. Although it can be rather a steep climb to the top, you can get some amazing views of the surrounding area and the Cascade Mountains, including the peaks of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens.
The Northeast Ramble can take you along the Northeast Neighborhood Greenways, with your route beginning and ending at the Salmon Springs Fountain in downtown Portland.
This looped ride runs roughly 19 miles including the 4 mile round-trip to the top of Rocky Butte. The route follows a combination of bike paths, bike lanes, and on-street riding. But much of the on-street riding is relatively quiet in terms of traffic as the route travels through residential neighborhoods.
Surface Type: Paved/Sealed (sealed road with some paved paths)
Ride Difficulty: Medium – mostly flat but with a steep ride up Rocky Butte.
4. Powell Butte Nature Park (best mtb ride)
Powell Butte Nature Park covers over 600 acres of forests and meadows and can be a fantastic place to ride some off-road trails surrounded by nature and wildlife. There are many trails within the park that can be ideal for mountain biking, but these trails can also be used by hikers and horses.
The Powell Butte Loop can be an easy to medium ride with hills and off-road single-track terrain, as well as paved and gravel sections of path. This route is just under five miles and offers some great views, particularly of Mount Hood in the distance.
Powell Butte Nature Park can also be linked with the Springwater Corridor Trail, meaning it can be easily reached by bike from downtown Portland, generally avoiding roads and traffic.
Surface Type: Mixture of paved, gravel, and off-road (mostly off-road)
Ride Difficulty: Medium – hilly paths
5. Sauvie Island
Sauvie Island can be a relaxing place to cycle with fields and farmlands all around. The Sauvie Island Trail is a paved on-street route on generally quiet roads. The route travels along bike lanes between the start of the route at Wallace Park and the Sauvie Island Bridge.
The looped route around Sauvie Island from Wallace Park is 37 miles but can be an easy route that is mostly flat. There are a few options for detours, such as the Skyline Trail which takes you through a quiet woodland residential area above Forest Park and Linnton Park. But this can be a steep climb over 3,000 feet.
There’s also the option of riding into the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area along Oak Island Road on Sauvie Island.
Surface Type: Sealed
Ride Difficulty: Easy to medium – flat roads with optional steep routes
Bike Rentals And Tours Around Portland
With Portland being such a cycling-friendly city, there are several places where you can rent a bike or take a guided bike tour. There are also bike-sharing stations across the city. We have included just a few of the places you can find a rental.
- Cycle Portland (Willamette River Loop, Trolley Trail Loop – rentals and tours)
- Everybody’s Bike Rentals (Sauvie Island, Rocky Butte, Willamette River Loop – rentals)
- Biketown (Various locations/bike sharing – rentals)
- Pedal Bike Tours (Trolley Trail Loop, Rocky Butte, Sauvie Island, Willamette River – rentals and tours)
- Bike Around Portland Tours (Willamette River, Trolley Trail – tours)
Portland, OR Bike Laws
Remember to follow Oregan biking laws while cycling in Portland. We have included some of the main laws for reference. But this is intended to be a simple guide and should not be taken as legal advice.
- Helmets are required to be worn by all children under 16 – these must be approved by the federal CPSC. It’s recommended that all adult cyclists wear a helmet.
- Bicycles are considered vehicles in Oregon. This means you have to follow the rules of the road, for example riding with the flow of traffic. You’re allowed to take the lane if riding on the road, otherwise stay close to the right. However, if the road has a bike lane, you’re required to ride in the bike lane.
- Group riding on roads is allowed as long as you don’t impede the flow of traffic. Each cyclist in the group is considered an individual vehicle and therefore must stop separately at a stop sign, for example. You must ride single-file to help traffic pass you, particularly on country roads.
- Cycling under the influence of alcohol is illegal and will be treated the same as a DUII (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants) charge for driving a vehicle while intoxicated.
- E-Bikes are allowed to be ridden on roads with traffic and in bike lanes and bike paths. However, e-bikes are not allowed on sidewalks. There may be some local paths and trails where e-bikes are not permitted.
- Lights are required for cycling at night. You’re required to have a front white light that’s visible for 500 feet and a rear red light or reflector that’s visible for at least 600 feet.
Portland is a bike-friendly city, with numerous bike trails and lots of bike shops to offer repairs if you need them. With great scenery surrounding an urban landscape, the Rose City can be a great place for city cycling tours and extended trips. The many traffic-free routes can also make it ideal for family rides and beginners.
Remember to plan your route in advance and be aware of any local biking rules for where you plan to ride. Let us know how your ride goes. And give this a share if you want to encourage others to get out there.