Spring has officially arrived in the Pacific Northwest and if you live near Portland, Oregon, you know that Forest Park offers some of the best places to take in the lush green vegetation that surrounds the Northwest. There are still some dormant plants along the edges of the trails as well as the underbrush but you can still expect to see some amazing wild trillium’s blanketing the forest. The past few weeks have brought a lot of rain to the trails and forest canopy but we are looking at a pretty sunny and warm next few days. You can expect to be hiking on a very soft trail system as well as still enjoy the coolness surrounding the park. Summer can be really bad, with the trails as hard as a rock, stagnant air and lifeless vegetation. However, Spring offers the exact opposite, with the best hiking opportunities that the Pacific Northwest could ever create. The weekend’s can get pretty busy, so I would recommend that you go on a weekday. Early morning or later in the day can be the best time to go if you can’t get the time off, during the afternoon. If you plan on taking some photos, I would recommend that you attach your wide angle lens and plan on getting some great shots of the towering and lush trees overhead, like the photo that I just posted, You can also get some great shots of the trails, winding through the green canopy. You will also have the opportunity to get some shots of the creek since the previous rains have swollen the brooks and small creeks that wind throughout the park. However, you may want to bring a tripod in order to get the best shots. You will also have some great opportunities to see some of the woodpeckers that call Forest Park home.
One of the most epic places to visit when visiting Portland, Oregon is Forest Park. There are over 5,100 acres of forested trails with over 70 miles of hiking terrain. Most of the trees are second growth with a few patches of old growth. However, compared to other city’s forests’s, you may as well call Forest Park the largest forest in America. There are over 100 species of birds and over 60 mammals that call Forest Park home. If you really want to take advantage of the incredible vegetation I would recommend that you visit between May and June. May is great since you’re able to see wild flowers, such as iris and trillium but June is the best month to witness the park in a complete canopy of neon green vegetation. It almost takes on the effect of a tropical forest. There are millions of ferns and several creeks that cut through the forest as well as several small wooden bridges that carry hikers over the sometimes muddy creeks. Most of the trails are fairly easy to hike but if you’re interested in getting a good workout, you can easily find parts of the trail that have steeper inclines and cover more elevation gain. If you’re interested in mt. biking, you will be glad to find out that there are over 30 miles dedicated to bikers. Most of the trails are pretty steep, so you will have to be in pretty good shape if you expect to climb some of the challenging and sometimes muddy trails. However, a good part of the biking trails are on the old road that traverses the park but the city has done a good job of doing some maintenance work in order to make it more of a wilderness trail. There are several areas where you can start from and if you’re driving to the trail there are several parking areas where you can find the best trail. Since the trail is just seconds from several Portland neighborhoods, most people just step out of there front door and make a quick trip to the nearest trails. There are several viewing spots that will give you a glimpse of the Portland skyline, views of Mt. Hood, Adams, St. Helens and Rainier. You can also get a glimpse of the st. John’s bridge as well as the train bridge and the Willamette river. However, the best views are from nearby Pittock mansion.
[/caption] 5,170 acre Forest Park is the largest city park in the lower 48 states and is located within Portland’s city limits. The park offers over 50 miles of hiking trails and over 10 miles of biking access. There are numerous creeks and small waterfalls that cascade through the park and several wooden bridges take you over the creeks. There are hundreds of wildlife that call Forest Park home, including bald eagles, owls, hawks, deer and coyotes. In fact, more than 112 bird species and 62 mammal species frequent the park and its wide variety of trees and shade-loving plants. You’re allowed to hike with your dog but you are required to keep them leashed and always clean up after your dog. Unfortunately, not everybody does either of the two.
[/caption] Forest Park offers over 50 miles of hiking trails, encompasses over 5100 acres and is Americas largest city park. Since most of the trees in Forest Park consist of second growth and only a small amount of old growth trees it’s hard to imagine just how big the trees once were since most of the trees are massive in height. Once the leaves are full you can pretty much hike anywhere in the park on a rainy day in spring or summer and barely get wet. I’ve hiked the park over 200 times and I finally decided to bring my camera on the same day that I was walking my 1 1/2 year old and very ADHD Australian Cattle dog. I ended up just carrying my camera in one hand and shot with the same hand. It was pretty difficult most of the time since he was on the prowl for moles, birds, squirrels, insects, dirt, sticks or anything else he saw. I just used my thumb to turn on the camera and then pointed and shot. I did use my histogram to check the shots for any camera shake, blur or saturation problems since I wasn’t using a tripod. Luckily I removed my CIR-PL and only attached my warming filter and UV filter so I could take advantage of the lush green colors. I also knew that using a wide angle lens would allow me to get the panoramic shots I wanted as well as create a large field of view, which would also mostly limit any camera shake or blur. I attached my Tokina 12-24mm lens and kept the focal length at 12mm so I could take picture with only one hand. I also increased the ISO to 400 and increased the white balance to +0.3. This kept the shots from being under saturated and eliminated any camera shake or blur. I had the camera in program/normal mode so the aperture was automatically set at F-4.6 and the shutter speed at 1/50 of a second. During my 2 hour hiking adventure I was surprised to take over 700 photos and ended up with several keepers since they came out so well.