15 Best Hiking and Running Trails near Hillsboro, OR

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The Hillsboro area is rich with scenic trails. It doesn’t matter what your ability or activity preference is; Hillsboro has you covered. The only problem is which route you should choose.

We made a list of the highest-rated trails in the area. It will help you make the decision or at least give you some hiking ideas. 

Trails near Hillsboro:

  1. Cooper Mountain Loop
  2. Rood Bridge Loop
  3. Henry Hagg Lake Loop
  4. King’s Mountain Trail
  5. Elk Mountain Loop Trail
  6. University Falls Trail
  7. Wilson River Wagon Road Trail
  8. L. L. Stub Stewart State Park
  9. Wapato Greenway Loop Trail
  10. Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail
  11. Noble Woods Trail
  12. Orenco Park Loop
  13. Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion
  14. Wildwood Trail
  15. Banks to Vernonia State Trail

1. Cooper Mountain Loop

  • Highlight: Diverse flora and sweeping views over the valley.
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 430 feet
  • Time to Complete: 1 hour 15 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: SW Kemmer Road (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 10 miles (20 min)
  • Dog Friendly: No

Cooper Mountain Loop is one of the highest-rated hikes near Hillsboro. It is an easy nature walk on the edge of the urban area.

Because of its proximity to the city, the trail is popular with local runners and hikers; it is the perfect place for workouts or evening strolls.

The highlight of the hike is the fabulous views over the valley and shaded walks through the woods.

In spring, you will find colorful displays of blooming wildflowers here. It is the best time to visit the area. 

2. Rood Bridge Loop

  • Highlight: cozy, beautiful park recommended for birdwatching
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 40 ft
  • Time to Complete: 20 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: SE Rood Bridge Road (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 3.5 miles (7 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Rood Bridge Park is a cozy nature area in Hillsboro. The loop around the park takes just 20 minutes to complete.

The area is very well maintained and has paved and gravel paths with a slight incline. 

There are plenty of benches in the park, as well as ponds, streams, and a waterfall. So it is the perfect place for quiet contemplation in the fresh air. 

3. Henry Hagg Lake Loop

  • Highlight: calm area with very few people and views of the lake
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 13.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 888 feet
  • Time to Complete: 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Scoggins Valley Rd and Nelson Rd junction (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 18 miles (25 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Henry Hagg Lake is an artificial reservoir 15 miles west of Hillsboro. The area offers various activities, including cycling, kayaking, and fishing.

The Hagg Lake Loop is a pleasant, mostly flat hike; its only real challenge is the distance. But most people complete it in 6-7 hours.

The loop combines several trails which will take you to delightful viewpoints, past sandy beaches, and through the shaded forest.

The biggest complaint about this route is that it runs along the road in a few short sections. Apart from that, it is pleasant. 

The area around the lake is well developed. There are restrooms, benches, picnic areas, and beaches for you to enjoy.

4. King’s Mountain Trail

  • Highlight: physical workout with stunning views from the 3,226 feet peak
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,508 feet
  • Time to Complete: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: King’s Mountain Trailhead (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 36 miles (45 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

King’s Mountain Trail is one of the most popular hikes west of Hillsboro. It is a challenging route that will test your calves.

The trail climbs 2,500 feet in just over 2 miles; it is pretty much uphill all the way. Experienced hikers will love the challenge, but beginners may find it relentless.

Either way, the sweeping vistas of the Tillamook Forest and beyond will pay for the testing climb; if you pick the right weather, that is.

The parking is easy but limited, so come early to bag this peak. Also, don’t forget water and hiking poles; these will come in handy.

5. Elk Mountain Loop Trail

Elk Mountain Trail
  • Highlight: Hard hike with scrambling sections to a 2,788 feet peak.
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 9.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,713 feet
  • Time to Complete: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: Elk Creek Road (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 33 miles (40 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Elk Mountain Loop has been described as absolutely brutal. Many people struggle with its steep ascent and scrambling section.

But do not despair. Keep time on your side (go slow) and crawl on all 4s if you have to; thousands of people successfully complete this hike every year.

On a clear day, the views from the top will make you smile, and you will forget the burning in your tighs, but only until the descent.

A shorter way to summit Elk Mountain is to take the Elk Mountain Trail. It is a 3 miles hike straight up and straight down. So if you don’t want to take the lengthy route, this is your option. 

Elk Creek area itself is pretty. There is a campground, a creek, and a few more trails suitable for family nature gateways.

6. University Falls Trail

  • Highlight: Beautiful cascade, very short hike.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 0.6 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 183 feet
  • Time to Complete: 30 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: University Falls Trailhead (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 32 miles (1 hour)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

University Falls Trail is a short hike that leads to a charming cascade in the middle of the forest. 

The waterfall won’t win any awards, and compared to the falls in Columbia Gorge, it is just a trickle. But if you are in the area, it is worth a quick visit.

The access to the trailhead is via a gravel road with a few steep sections. Most cars will be able to handle it.

The trail is muddy in places but nothing exceptional.

Yet, the best thing about the area is that not many people come here. It is calm, and you can have the whole waterfall for yourself.

More Waterfall Hikes: 10 Best Hiking Trails Near Gresham 

7. Wilson River Wagon Road Trail

  • Highlight: Heritage trail in classic Oregonian landscape
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 324 feet
  • Time to Complete:  4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: University Falls Trailhead (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 32 miles (1 hour)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

This trail is an excellent addition to the University Falls route. Both start at the same place.

Wilson River Wagon Road is a section of an 1890s stagecoach road that connected Tillamook and Forest Grove. Nowadays, it is well-kept singletrack through the classic Oregonian woods.

The trail is muddy in places and crosses a few ATV routes. But overall, it is very charming.

Also, you don’t have to come back the same way. It is possible to loop back using University Falls Road.

Yet, most people prefer hiking just a mile or two out before turning around to make their way back. You can make it as short as you want.

8. L. L. Stub Stewart State Park

  • Highlight:  Modern park with many activities and 30 miles of trails.
  • Type: Varies
  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Elevation Gain: Varies
  • Time to Complete: Varies
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Parking: Welcome Center (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 22 miles (35 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Opened in 2007, L. L. Stub Stewart State Park is the recent addition to Oregon parks. 

The area offers campgrounds with hookups, cabins, and a range of modern facilities like restrooms and hot showers.

Also, the park has over 30 miles of trails; you can easily spend a whole day hiking here without visiting the same area twice.

In addition, there are many other outdoor activities that you can try here. Horse riding, cycling, and disc golf are some of them.

Although the park offers so much, it doesn’t get crowded here, and quiet, peaceful hikes are easy to find.

9. Wapato Greenway Loop Trail

  • Highlight: Tranquil wetlands perfect for families and wildlife watching
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 55 feet
  • Time to Complete: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: At the trailhead (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 20 miles (35 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Wapato Loop is a flat, marshy trail on Sauvie Island that boasts diverse wildlife. Bring binoculars!

In Wapato Greenway, you can spot great blue heron, willow flycatcher, grebe, yellow warbler, and sapsucker; plus, many other animals.

Diverse wildlife, flat terrain, and picnic areas make this hike ideal for families with kids. 

Another thing to mention is that the trail is really calm. You won’t meet more than a handful of other hikers.

The only complaint about the route is the mosquitos and flies. So bring bug repellent to have a more pleasant walk.

10. Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail

  • Highlight: Flat, quiet trail with a lighthouse, a beach, and some Columbia River views.
  • Type: Out and back
  • Trail Length: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 42 feet
  • Time to Complete: 2 hours 30 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: At the trailhead (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 30 miles (1 hour)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail is another popular choice on Sauvie Island. Some even described it as the best path in Portland.

Like Wapato Greenway, this hike is flat, easy, and offers diverse wildlife, although a lot more lengthy.

You will find an old lighthouse at the end of the route, one of the two on the Columbia River. And a beautiful sandy beach which you can have all to yourself.

The parking lot gets busy on sunny days, but most people visit adjoining beaches rather than take the trail. 

Hence, the hike is relatively tranquil, with only occasional freighters reminding of civilization nearby.

11. Noble Woods Trail

  • Highlight: Idelic city park for shaded walks or an evening run
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 60 feet
  • Time to Complete: 45 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Noble Woods Parking (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 3.5 miles (8 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Noble Woods is a small inner-city park for families, dog walkers, runners, and beginner hikers.

It is located just 8 min east of downtown Hillsboro and is one of the highest-rated natural areas in the city.

The loop is a combination of shaded paved paths and tracks with bridges over the creek. It is a pretty flat, stroller-approved park.

12. Orenco Park Loop

  • Highlight:  Charming neighborhood park without dogs or bikes but plenty of wildlife
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 1.6 miles 
  • Elevation Gain: 85 feet
  • Time to Complete: 45 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Orenco parking lot (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 5 miles (12 min)
  • Dog Friendly: No

Orenco Park is another charming location amid the urban jungle. The area boasts diverse plant and animal life, so it is closed to dogs and bikes.

The park isn’t big; it will take most people about 45 minutes to complete the loop. Yet, it is a well-kept place with a fantastic playground area for the kids.

If you are just getting into hiking or looking for a place to hike with kids, Orenco Park is probably the best location in the city.

13. Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion panorama
  • Highlight: Panoramic views of Portland, introduction to Forest Park
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 921 feet
  • Time to Complete: 2 hours 30 min
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: At the Trailhead (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 22 miles (35 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

If you are local to the Portland area, you are probably familiar with the most popular hike in town – Lower Macleay Park Trail.

This 5-mile route starts near downtown Portland and travels along Balch Creek in Forest Park. It then joints Wildwood Trail that climbs to Pittock Mansion.

The major part of the trail runs through the forest, so the hike is cool and shady; the paths are well-maintained and tidy

Once you are at Pittock Mansion, you will be greeted with a stunning Portland panorama; well worth the effort.

If you’ve never been to Forest Park before, this hike is the perfect taster for the area. Once you have familiarized yourself, you can start exploring over 100 miles of tracks on offer.

14. Wildwood Trail

  • Highlight: The legendary 30-miles long trail with mild terrain; runners’ favorite.
  • Type: Point to point
  • Trail Length: 30 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,113 feet
  • Time to Complete: Varies
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: Washington Park Veterans Parking Lot (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 18 miles (30 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Wildwood Trail is one of the National Recreation Trails. It was completed in 1999 and quickly became popular with locals and visitors.

It stretches for 30 miles from Washington Park to its northern terminus – NW Newberry Road. 

The first 5 miles of the trail are busy and touristy with various gardens, sweeping vistas, and Pittock Mansion. But gradually, the track becomes wilder, and you won’t meet more than a handful of people on the last half.

When it comes to terrain, it is relatively mild, without any extreme sections or steep uphills. Also, most of the route runs through the forest, so you are in the shade.

If you are not an endurance athlete, you probably won’t attempt the whole 30 miles at once. Instead, most people enjoy various sections of the route. You can make it an hour-long or a day-long; it’s up to you. 

Is camping allowed in Forest Park?

No. Camping is not allowed in Forest Park. It is a day-use city park that shuts at 10 pm every day. 

So if you’ve been thinking of splitting the route and completing it in two days, you can’t really do it unless you leave the park and come back the following day.

However, many people finish the whole track in a single day, either by walking or running. So it is possible; the route is slightly longer than a marathon.

The fastest known time to complete the Wildwood Trails is 3h 12 min 28s. Do you think you can beat that?

15. Banks to Vernonia State Trail

  • Highlight: Paved, rails to trails route; very scenic and perfect for cycling and families.
  • Type: Point to point
  • Trail Length: 22.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,020 feet
  • Time to Complete: 10 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: At the trailhead in Banks (Google Maps)
  • Distance from Hillsboro: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Banks to Vernonia State Trail is a discontinued railroad converted into a paved recreational route for hiking, biking, and horseriding. It is one of the best rails to trails projects in America. 

The route is an eight-foot-wide paved track with a four-foot-wide horse trail running alongside it. 

The trail’s highlight is crossing 13 bridges once a part of the railroad, including an 80-foot high Buxton Trestle that provides remarkable views.

Banks to Vernonia State Trail runs through L. L. Stub Stewart State Park (see above) with its modern facilities and campgrounds so that you can split the route in two.

Overall, it is an enjoyable, flat hike that can be adjusted to any length. And certainly not the one to miss.

Final Thoughts

Hillsboro area has a variety of trails on offer. From neighborhood parks for evening strolls to ultra-distance routes, the region has it all.

Just pick one route and go. There is no reason to stay at home!

Hiking Motivation: Funny and Inspirational Hiking Quotes.

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