Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PNW Week: Lily Von's Guide to Portland

A Proper Mountain Woman's Guide to Portland
written & illustrated by Lily Von
(who is a dear friend, Portland resident, and proper lady)

Introduction and Warning

"Don't move to Portland! They smoke pot on the street corners there!" That was one of the first things I heard when I started telling people I wanted to move to Portland after high school. I was considering attending a college in the City of Roses and started sharing my aspirations with the people around me. This included a lady at work who turned out to be wrong about marijuana use in Portland (and who was later discovered to be the culprit wicked enough to use her pinky nail to dig the centers out of the bottoms of our chocolates in the break room). Although I didn't move to Portland for college, it continued to call to me until 8 years later when I finally paid a visit and decided to stay for good.

Any proper mountain woman will love a romp through Portland - whether she's 420 friendly or not. Portland and its' residents are hike, bike, and dog friendly to say the least. The city is divided into four regions, sectioned out by the Willamette River which runs north to south and Burnside Street, which runs west to east. The sections are easy to remember because we simply call them Southwest, Southeast, Northwest, and Northeast. All four regions have countless wonders to behold. I'd like to share a couple of my favorite mountaintops in each. If you're somewhere near Portland, any of these spots will take about 15 minutes to get to by car. Most destinations are bicycle and dog friendly.


Council Crest Park - If you're anything like me, you like a stunning 360 ̊  view of literally anything. Almost 45 acres of hills and trails surround a large field, big enough for countless cute dogs and sun bathers (weather permitting). As Portland's highest point, views of the city and sky from this dense forest setting just might speak to you.
While you're in the area,  also check out Portland's Aerial Tram which is not only exciting (try the ride without holding on to the rails), but you're allowed to explore the outdoor areas of Oregon Health & Science University. The mindfully designed corridors and balconies are meant to soothe the soul with art, quiet, and fresh air. It doesn't hurt that from these heights you can view both Mount Hood and Mount St. Helen's from a single spot.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge - Have you ever seen a turtle in the wild? I have and it was here. Go have a nice brunch one morning (google 'brunch in Portland' and get utterly lost in choices) and then walk it off on this 2.3 mile loop. When you reach the enormous bird themed mural on the side of the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, the feelings are akin to being let in on a very good secret. Along the way, you could see countless birds, and if you're lucky, a beaver.

If you're on your bicycle, cut off onto the Springwater Corridor for more adventuring along wilderness, industrial areas, water fronts, and hip city. It connects to one of my favorite spots in all of Portland - The Eastbank Esplanade. Here you can view downtown Portland from the water's edge and cross one of our historic bridges on foot to Waterfront Park. I have always loved the feeling of a bustling city mingled with the calming expanse of nature.


Washington Park - If you can, plan your visit when the roses are blooming so you can wander through the perfumed air and take in yet another stunning view of Portland. In addition to the Rose Garden, this is the prefect place to just wander. On this hilltop surrounding the Oregon Zoo, Portland Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center, and a whole lot more - you'll find countless spots to enter the forest on a trail and just go. This is the perfect place to visit if you're not sure what you want to do that day.

If you've got a car, go up the road to Pittock Mansion. Whether you decide to enter the home or not, there are trail and a leisurely path which takes you along the edge of a hill where you can see the very center of Portland from above. Remember the Willamette River and Burnside Street which divides the city into quadrants? You will get the best visual of that from here. I also love looking north to see the huge tankers, cranes, and docks, which are why this was named Portland in the first place.


Alberta Arts District - If you're done tromping through the hills, take a stroll through this neighborhood thick with people watching, galleries, shops, and endless dining options. If you're here during the first warm week of the year, you'll see hippies, punks, and nerds alike praising the sun with their tattoos on the milky canvases of winterized-white flesh. If after a day in the hills, you feel to connected to the earth to eat meat, try a vegan bowl at The Bye and Bye. Chances are you will wake up the next day feeling like a million bucks. Check the Willamette Weekly calendar when you get here to make sure you catch any number of street art, fine art, or music events on any given day.


For a long time I thought I had a wanderers spirit. That was until I found a home where I wanted to grow some roots. The constant surrounding rivers and trees in all of the blues and greens are constant reminders that I am happy to be alive. If you love adventure, water and trees, and the chance to see something new and wonderful every day, come visit me in Portland. We'll find lots of proper mountain woman things to do.
~Lily Von


  1. I loved this post! I also love Oregon and took a driving tour through the city a few months back. It was amazing and I really wanted to get out and walk around and visit some of the cafes, art galleries, natural food groceries and mingle with the many folks on the sidewalks, but couldn't find a place to park my car. So instead drove home to Utah!

    1. Haha! We should have done a post on places to park then! I love this post too, and my friend who wrote it. We are lucky, Lily is getting married this June so we are flying out to celebrate! I love any chance to visit Portland, and can't wait to check out some of her suggestions from this here post.


+ + + + + +