When we first stumbled upon the Hoyt Arboretum, we couldn’t help but feel we were traveling through an enchanted forest. Widely known as “the museum of trees” the Hoyt Arboretum is a beautiful reprieve tucked away in the middle of Forest Park, a mere two miles from downtown. The area is expansive – it spans over 190 acres and has over 12 miles of hiking trails, which can make it fairly easy to get lost if you don’t know where you’re going. Of course, that may only add to the intrigue for some people, creating a sense of wanderlust. One way or another, you’ll eventually find your way to a main road, so there’s no need to fret. It’s not exactly like you’re getting lost in the 1.2 million acres of the Mount Hood National Forest. A place of quintessential beauty, the Hoyt Arboretum features a diverse landscape with towering redwoods, stationery spots to unwind and a wide-range of bird species. Despite its majestic nature, the Hoyt Arboretum does not see a huge influx of crowds like the Portland Japanese Garden or the Rose Garden. The Hoyt Arboretum is a secluded adventure, perfect for your daily rhythms and accessible throughout all four seasons. No matter where you travel within the park’s 191 acres, you can’t go wrong. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most beautiful aspects of Hoyt Arboretum to stoke the flames of your imagination for your next visit.


Perhaps the most mesmerizing part of the Hoyt Arboretum are the massive redwoods situated mid-park. Easily accessible through a short walk on Wildwood Trail or South Bray Lane, the Redwoods have an observation deck (pictured above) that allows you to simply sit and take in all the sights and sounds. Known for their uniquely reddish-brown bark and massive trunks, Redwoods produce a natural sense of wonder. In the Hoyt Arboretum there are three different redwood species and over 70 total redwoods. One of our favorite things to do when we’re at the observation deck is to simply sit in silence, listen to the surrounding birds chirping and look upwards at these towering giants. One of the sweetest facts about the Hoyt Arboretum (and specifically the Redwoods) is the close proximity to the city center. From downtown Portland, you can be at the Redwood observation deck within 10 minutes. This stands in stark contrast to many other parts of the country, where you’ll have to drive quite a ways for a similar experience. Soak this up with gratitude and take advantage of this level of accessibility.



As you can infer from the name, this beautiful little oasis is host to many weddings year-round. But on the daily, it is one of the more special stationery locations within the Hoyt Arboretum. Wedding Meadow offers a level of deep-forest seclusion that goes unmatched by other parts of Portland. There’s almost never a crowd in here, making it the perfect place to bring a blanket and journal. Visually, the open meadow setting provides a ton of room to breathe with beautiful Douglas firs surrounding you on the periphery. The area is mere steps from the Redwood Observation Deck, also accessible through Wildwood Trail or South Bray Lane. Follow the signs as you walk along the trail.




Hoyt Arboretum is nothing short of a majestic paradise that exists just ten minutes from downtown Portland. Take advantage of it! The walking trails and Redwoods provide the ideal environment to reflect, contemplate and be present with ourselves. In our introduction to Portland getaways, we discussed how science has revealed that getting at least two hours each week in green spaces is essential to our well-being. A remarkable report from Yale tells us: “the studies point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.” Perhaps no one understood these rhythms better than Jesus, who we find often getting away into the wilderness, before returning back to engage the culture around him. He modeled what would later be known as silence and solitude. When we’re out in nature and captivated by its beauty, it often produces a wonder and heightened awareness of the world around us. How could such a beautiful place exist? That wonder can lead to an awareness of the One who created all the transcendent beauty that surrounds us. And here’s the transformative part — we can allow that awareness to drive us into connection with God. For Jesus, this is what getting away was all about. Being out in nature was about who he connected with whilst he was out there. When we encounter God in these environments of refreshment, we are able to acquire the strength and perspective we need to go back out into the world. We need this to love other people well. To create the change we long to see. To become the truest and best version of ourselves. These rhythms are essential for our well-being. As we see from the science, they are built into the very fabric of our existence. We benefit spiritually, mentally and physically from these environments of refreshment. For much of human history, these were our natural habitats. You could argue that the construction of modern city life is unnatural in this sense, as the constant busyness and distraction prevents us from getting perspective and moments of reflection. So especially living in Portland, modeling this “in-and-out lifestyle” will help us thrive amidst the rising tides of hustle culture and the pursuit of pleasure. We’ll leave you with a few practical tips before you wander into the Ramble, which include:

1) Pick a time & place

Scheduling time to get away is essential. The hectic nature of modern life increases the need for intentionality. So consider where you will regularly visit in the Hoyt Arboretum and when it's practical do that. Is it before work in the morning? Is it midday during lunch? Which part of the area is most accessible to you?

2) Start small & build

If you’re making the effort to get away regularly, you’ve already hit the goal. And remember, habits are formed by starting small. Rather than saying we’re going to visit Hoyt Arboretum for 90 minutes every morning, try retreating for 30 minutes at least 2-3 times a week. If you get in a rhythm doing that, start increasing that to an hour in Hoyt Arboretum for 2-3 times a week. And so forth.

3) Put your phone on silent

Smartphones breed distraction and will pull you away from being present in the moment. Try putting your phone on silent and resisting the urge to pull it out. Build up your tolerance over time.

4) Consider your wiring

While some of the spots we’ve featured in Hoyt Arboretum are stationery, many best experience Hoyt Arboretum through walking. Which goes to say, consider your wiring. If you like to be active, take in all the sights and sounds as you navigate the trails.

5) Bring a blanket

However, if you do like being stationery, consider buying a blanket, particularly for Wedding Meadow. Get comfortable as you enter a place of contemplation.

6) Bring a journal

Fight against the urge to stuff away your thoughts by actively processing them through this form of feeling prayer. How are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? Name the emotions coming up - envy, greed, sadness, grief, etc. Like Jesus, we discover that our emotions are a place to meet with God.

7) Contemplate scripture

This ancient practice, called Lectio Divina, involves picking a small passage to meditate on. Even if you haven’t read scripture in ages (or ever), this could be as small as a Psalm, a Proverb or the words of Jesus in the gospels. Let’s say a verse comes up about humility or loving your neighbor, we then pray for a greater understanding of how to model that in our lives. See what comes to mind. You can pick up a copy of the new Passion Translation here.

8) Practice gratitude

Gratitude is hard for us. Sometimes it feels like we suffer from chronic short-term memory loss, only able to see what we don't have or how our circumstances are less than ideal. And while there might be truth in that, this perspective causes us to miss the precious things of life that are sitting right in front of us each and every day. Take some time to write down prayers of gratitude, even for the smallest of things.

9) Be silent

The Hoyt Arboretum is so beautiful and diverse, that some days you might find yourself just wanting to be silent. Embrace this. Engage your breathing. Listen to the sounds around you. The birds. The breeze. The trees.

Whatever you decide to do with your time, take this opportunity to retreat from the hustle and bustle, opting to get away into the scenic paradise that is the Hoyt Arboretum.


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