I promised to post of re-cap of my guidebook show-and tell from the monthly meeting last night. This list is purely subjective and by no means comprehensive! Portland is full of well-informed outdoor enthusiasts who love to share their knowledge. If you find one not listed that you like, please post a note!
The Purple room at Powell’s has a section called something like Oregon: Outdoors and Nature. This is where you can find almost all of these books and many, many others.
The website http://portlandhikers.org is a great web resource. People post trip reports here every day, with photos and descriptions of trails all around the Pacific Northwest. You can search through the archive of trip reports if you want a description of a particular trail, or just browse through recent postings to see where people have been going in the last few weeks. And it’s a great place to share photos and descriptions of the adventures that you have been having.
100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, by William Sullivan. There are lots of great local guides, but Sullivan’s is more or less the standard “go-to” reference. All the hikes are within an hour or two drive. There’s a variety of distances and difficulty, and he’ll often give options or variations on the hikes. He has a website you can check for updates and corrections. If you have only one guide, this is a great one to start with. If you like to go farther afield, he has a whole series of “100 Hikes” books, for the Coast Range, Central Oregon Cascades, Eastern Oregon, etc.
Afoot and Afield Portland/Vancouver: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide, by Doug Lorain. This guide also focuses on hikes within an hour or two of Portland, and he is not kidding when he says “comprehensive”. I’ve been having a great time this year exploring new-to-me hikes in great places that I hadn’t seen listed elsewhere.
Wild in the City: Guide to Portland’s Natural Areas, by Michael C. Houck. Hate driving? Don’t have a whole day to go to the mountain? Don’t own a car? You can still play outside. The Portland area is filled with beautiful trails and natural areas. This guide includes both driving and transit directions to the trailheads, and also includes bike and waterway trips.
One City’s Wilderness: Portland’s Forest Park, by Marcy Houle and Eric Goetze. This book has trail maps, suggested trips, and loads of interesting sections on the history and ecology of Forest Park. We’ve got a beautiful forest right here in town. Go explore it.
There are also lots of “Hiking and” type guidebooks, for theme hikes like wildflowers, waterfalls, geology, history, places for dogs, hikes easy on the knees, “romantic” hikes, hikes for kids, hot spring hikes, etc. etc. Go browse the purple room at Powell’s and you will be amazed at the variety.
Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills, by The Mountaineers. Whether your goal is to summit Mount Hood or just increase your outdoor skills, this book is a fabulous resource. This is a practical how-to guide for things like navigation; snow and ice travel; rock scrambling; rope skills, planning and emergency prevention; gear, weather, etc. etc. This is frequently updated by the Mountaineers, a Seattle-based climbing club. Powell’s generally has a ton of inexpensive copies because the Mazamas require it for their springtime Intro to Mountaineering class.
The Backpacker’s Handbook, by Chris Townshend. If you’re ready for trips that last more than just one day, this is a great resource. Whether you are planning your first overnighter or a six-month trek across the Canadian Rockies, you’ll find helpful tips. It covers topics like – what stuff do I really need? What am I supposed to do with my food at night? How do I make this giant pack not hurt? Etc. He also includes great packing checklists for trips of different lengths, in the desert, rain, winter snow-camping, etc.
I look forward to hearing your recommendations, especially if you've found recent winter snowshoe/ x-c guides that you like!
See you on the trail,
to the books in this list, I would add "Backpacking in Oregon" and "Backpacking in Washington" both by Douglas Lorain. this pair of books will give you the top list of backpacking destinations. Most are single nighters.