The Hoyt Arboretum is a trail system featuring 12 miles of trails all together, most of them being conveniently-designed loops. Because it is accessible to all skill levels and within the city, the trails are a very popular destination. From the trails you can reach multiple playgrounds, the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Gardens, and the Portland Zoo. The Hoyt Arboretum is a picture-perfect place for a simple picnic with views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helen, and Mt Rainier, or you can plan for a whole day of events.
The Visiting Center has free trail maps, informational brochures, restrooms, and water fountains. Dogs must be kept leashed. The Hoyt Arboretum and International Rose Garden are free, but you do have to pay for parking (though the public transportation out to the area is quite good). The Japanese Gardens and Zoo require admissions. The park is open from 5 am until 10 pm.
Because of the large area and interconnected trails, the Hoyt Arboretum is perfect for creating a hike that is ideal for you. No matter which trail you are on, expect large trees identified by informational signs at times and well maintained trails. These three loops are suggested by the visitor center.
The Spruce to Wildwood to Redwood Trail is a 0.9 mile loop that should only take about an hour to complete. The trail starts at the Pavilion near the Visitor Center and quickly moves into a thick forest of spruce trees. Make sure to stop and enjoy passing by the Wedding Meadow, a peaceful grassy plain bordered by conifers.
For a longer hike, there is the Overlook/Wildwood/Hawthorn/Maple/Wildwood/Holly Trails loop; this is estimated to be a two-hour loop. Exploring the southeast quadrant, the trail includes deciduous trees, conifers, and open meadows. There is also the ability to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with a brief side trip on this path as well.
For those in a rush, the Fir Trail is a 0.5 mile loop with almost no elevation change. The quick 30-minute walk takes you around the Pine Collection and along the Spruce Collection.
The land of the Arboretum was originally owned by Eli and Anna Stewart after a Donation Land Claim was made in 1851. Before this the land was a dense forest made up of Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and red alder trees. Just 14 years after the Stewart’s purchase, the land was sold to Multnomah County. The county was required by law to provide for its poor and mentally sick, so the now Arboretum became the county “Poor Farm.” Inmates cultivated an orchard and raised live stock until the institution was moved to Troutdale in 1911 due to corruption and poor living standards.
E.T. Mische, Portland Parks Superintendent at the time, took the opportunity to build the Arboretum. Portland purchased the land in 1922 from Multnomah County for $10, and eventually Mische’s assistant took over his position and successfully pitched the idea for the Hoyt Arboretum. The first curator of the museum began planting trees from the Duncan Plan family in 1930. By 1936 over 4,000 trees had been planted with the help from WPA, CWA, and NYA workers.
Today the park includes more than 6,000 trees spread throughout its 189 acres.