My Favorite Place in Portland: Washington Park

As I said the Hyatt House Beaverton is located down the street from the Beaverton Central MAX Rail Station.

It was a beautiful day in Portland so I decided to head out to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. A day (24 hour) pass on the Metro costs $5 and can be easily bought from the kiosk at the station.

A light rail car pulled up just as I bought the ticket. If you are in Beaverton make sure to hop on to the Blue line and get on the train on the side with the ticket kiosks and the blue rod shaped sculpture. The trains run every 30 mins to Downtown Portland so the wait time isn’t long at all.

 

The train was absolutely empty except for a lone man who wasn’t wearing a mask. Staying clear of him was easy though so I didn’t break a sweat. I have to say it’s a surreal experience riding the metro again. It was my first time since the start of a pandemic, so getting on one certainly gave me a sense of travel normality.

 

I hopped off the train at Goose Hollow Station which was the closest station to the point in Washington Park where the Rose Test Garden is situated. There was virtually no one out about on this beautiful Saturday evening. It just puzzled me why that was the case.

 

First stop was Vista Bridge which has a spectacular view of Downtown Portland with Mt Hood in the background, but the entire bridge is blocked off with this fencing. I’m assuming there were a few too many suicides here?

Anyway, after spending a few mins on the bridge, I moved on to Washington Park. If you know this area of Portland, it has quite a few charming houses with some great gardens.

The park is up the hill from downtown Portland so the views of Mt Hood are visible pretty much from any clearing. The Lewis and Clark Column at this end of the park is an ideal place to sit and watch the light over the mountain.

The walk to the International Rose Garden was eerily quiet for a Saturday. Some of the images I got of the park were ones where it look abandoned:

I was literally wondering when I would see another person in the park when I arrived at this juncture where a couple were just sitting and picnicking in front of the the charming Hansel and Gretel style cottage housing the park’s restrooms. You got that right restrooms lol

 

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It was an altogether terrific walk. One of the few silver linings to travel back at the beginning of summer was finding many of the most popular “local” spots empty. This was especially the case back in May. I finally made it to the Intl Rose Test Garden to find the place to be the most lively location inside Washington Park. Even then, it was easy to find a bench and just take in the sight of Downtown Portland. I couldn’t resist taking an image of the few flowers there and the sun shining through.

 

Sun stars aren’t usually my thing, but it seemed to be the way to go on this particular day.

Anyway right after this, I decided to make my way to the Hoyt Arboretum via the Wildwood trail. This led me past the Washington Park Tennis Courts which have great views of the mountain and downtown. Note to self: play tennis here on my next trip.

It was starting to get darker inside the park at this point and I was struggling to find my way to through the trail to the Washington Park station. As the light dimmed and whatever crowd left in the park thinned, I frankly got lost in the woodland. I ended up somewhere deep in the woods where I had to cut through some sketchy woodland to get back to the trail. Along the way I encountered these beautiful flowers in the woodland.

To top it off, my cell phone battery also died so I figured it was a terrible idea to be in the woods after dark so I tracked my convoluted route back. Man some of the cabins they have in the park are truly magical with the shrubs growing on them:

After I came back to the entry to the rose garden, I realized that it was probably not even sunset time yet and the streets were empty.

And yeah I was quite enamored by the cabin with the public restrooms again, though I definitely prefer the other image I got.

On my way back to Goose Hollow Station, I again went through these upscale residential area. The lanterns had already turned on at this point, and I couldn’t help but admire the English village look to the houses in the area.

I headed back to Vista Bridge to get a sunset of the Portland skyline with Mt Cook in the background and hopefully some light trails from the cars going down the road. However, this didn’t happen at all because well Portland was absolutely dead this Saturday evening.

While waiting on the bridge for nightfall, some real sketchy characters started walking by. Some of which walked back and forth a couple of times, eyeing me and my cameras. It just seemed really stupid for me to hang around with a dead cell phone in quiet area of Portland. I probably would’ve been fine, but who knows? And so I decided to call it a day and high tail it back to Goose Hollow Station.

My rather terrifying MAX Rail ride back to the hotel:

The ride back to the hotel wasn’t as uneventful as the one coming into downtown. The train conductor had to stop the train in the tunnel going under the park because a two people were standing on the tracks right in front of the train. These druggies (they were super high) in black hoodies got on the train to pick a fight with pretty much any passenger they saw. There were maybe only a handful of people on the train and they spooked the heck out of me and an elderly lady sitting across from me when they came up (unmasked) and demanded (very loudly) to know where the train was going. I have to say that I was “wet my pants” level terrified at this point. I only thought of the worst case scenario. I absolutely frozen, debating my exit options and getting ready to hand over my camera bag and wallet. To my surprise, the seemingly startled lady across from me used her cane to shoe away pair of people and yell after them that they were going the wrong way.

I don’t know if I was just alarmed by the incident or astonished at the fact that they left us alone, but I just nodded my thanks to the lady and sat quietly for the rest of the ride, not saying a single word about the odd incident.

Bottom Line: 

Washington Park is truly one of the finest urban parks in the United States with its magnificent gardens, views of Mt Hood, and a multitude of recreational activities. It might be my favorite part about Portland altogether. It’s so easy to find your way away from the crowds and just enjoy the outdoors.

My feedback on the town of Portland itself however is a bit mixed. While the city always had a hippie vibe with many homeless inhabitants, the crowds always made it seem safe. With the thinning of crowds due to COVID, I couldn’t help but feel that it was suffering from the same problem Seattle had. I hope that has changed since I visited.

Trip Report Index

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A Walk In Downtown Seattle (May 2021)

Hyatt House Portland/Beaverton 

Pictorial Portland: A Walk in Washington Park

 

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