Oregon’s Magnificent Museum of Trees: Hoyt Arboretum

Image by Oleg Chernov, Google Local

Located within the larger Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, Hoyt Arboretum is a hidden gem that should be on the itinerary of any nature lover visiting the city. The arboretum spans over 190 acres and has 12 miles of hiking trails, making it a perfect spot for educational and recreational purposes. Immerse yourself in serene beauty with this nature getaway within the city!

intermediate length hike, hoyt arboretum
Melissa Delzio

Hoyt Arboretum History

The area that is now Hoyt Arboretum was once home to a poor farm in the early 1900s (as was McMenamins Edgefield). The farm was used to house and care for the less fortunate members of society, but eventually, Multnomah County stepped in, giving the Portland Parks Bureau designated perpetual use of this land north of the city.

In 1922, the land that would become Hoyt Arboretum was acquired, and six years later, during National Forestry Week in 1928, the Forestry Committee of the Chamber of Commerce convinced the City Council to establish an arboretum in Washington Park. The goal of this establishment was to conserve living trees for both educational and recreational purposes.

hillside poor farm, portland history
The Hillside Poor Farm

The park was officially named Hoyt Arboretum in 1931 after Ralph Warren Hoyt, county commissioner, a former member of the Portland city council, and the forestry committee. Hoyt was instrumental in creating the arboretum and worked tirelessly to ensure its success. Today, the arboretum continues to honor his legacy by promoting tree conservation and education.

Hoyt Arboretum is a testament to the power of nature and the beauty that can be found in even the most unexpected places.

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What's Inside the Arboretum?

Glad you asked!

hoyt arboretum

Hoyt Arboretum's Plant Collection

The arboretum is home to over 2,300 species of trees and plants from around the world (that's 6,000 different shrubs and trees!), including many that are endangered species. The mission of the arboretum is to conserve endangered species and promote a better understanding of the importance of tree conservation. The arboretum's plant collection is also housed virtually in a publically available database online.

hoyt arboretum
Daniel Wolfe

The taxonomic arrangement used at Hoyt Arboretum groups trees and plants by family, genus, scientific classification, and species. For example, all the oaks will be located in one area, Douglas fir in another, etc. Children can learn about the difference between deciduous trees and evergreens while taking in this truly 'living museum'. This system helps visitors learn more about the relationships between different types of trees and plants and the role they play in maintaining the health of our ecosystem.

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The Visitor Center and Research Library

The visitor center at the center of Hoyt Arboretum is a great starting point for your visit. Here, you can pick up a map of the trails and get information on the different species of trees and plants in the arboretum, or take one of the periodic volunteer-guided tours. The center also has a small nature center with educational displays that provide insight into the history and significance of the arboretum.

portland parks
Anne-Claire Weil

For those interested in learning more about trees and plant life, the research library at Hoyt Arboretum is a great resource. The library houses a collection of beginner gardening books, as well as more advanced texts on tree conservation and plant life. Visitors can spend some time browsing the library's collection and learning more about the plants and trees that call the arboretum home.

The Redwood Groves

redwoods, conserve endangered species

The arboretum's gorgeous stands of giant redwoods are a highlight of any visit. These towering trees are a sight to behold and make for an excellent photo opportunity. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the groves and take in the beauty of these majestic trees.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

This Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who served in the Vietnam War. The memorial is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by those who served in the war and is a must-see for anyone visiting the arboretum.

vetrans memorial, hoyt arboretum, portland, oregon
Bimal Sandhu

A Charming Picnic Area

If you're looking for a peaceful spot to enjoy your lunch, the picnic area is located near the visitor's center and offers a shaded spot to enjoy a meal on a sunny day. The area is equipped with picnic tables and trash cans, making it easy to clean up after your meal.

So Many Hiking Trails

With over twelve miles of hiking trails, Hoyt Arboretum is a hiker's paradise. The trails vary in length and difficulty, making it easy for visitors of all ages and abilities to explore the arboretum. The trails are well-marked and maintained, making it easy to navigate your way through the park.

Gary Parks

The varying lengths of the trails at Hoyt Arboretum allow visitors to travel at a slow pace through the slightly hilly portions of the trails, or go for broke with your hike durations and speed through for some amazing exercise. Some of the trails can be quite steep, so proceed with caution and pick up trail maps at the above-mentioned small visitors' center.

hoyt arboretum
The aptly-named Magnolia Trail, Mary Anne Thygesen

Some of the more well-known trails are:

The Redwood Trail:

Runs north from Stevens Pavillion to the Redwood Deck.

The Wildwood Trail:

Leads north to Forest Park.

The Maple Trail and Walnut Trail:

Connects the popular Wildwood Trail and Overlook Trails.

deciduous trees, hoyt arboretum
Rene Rivers

The Marquam Trail:

Leads south to Marquam Nature Park.

Washington Park

Washington Park is a massive, free-to-enter area located on the west side of Portland, Oregon. It is home to several attractions, including the Hoyt Arboretum and the Japanese Garden. The park also has an archery range, several memorials and statues, a playground, and tennis courts. Visiting the park is perfect for solo adventures or family groups, as there's enough to keep everyone busy for days.

RELATED: 37 Awe-Inspiring Oregon Trails to Hike

portland japanese gardens, maple tree
Thomas Hawk

International Rose Test Garden

This world-renowned rose garden, located adjacent to Hoyt Arboretum, is a must-see for anyone visiting Portland. The garden is the oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the United States and is home to over 10,000 rose bushes. Visitors can stroll through the garden and admire the many different species of roses on display. When in full bloom, the garden smells extraordinary!

Other attractions at Washington Park include:

Oregon Zoo
Oregon Zoo

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Hoyt Arboretum

How much is the Hoyt Arboretum?

There is no admission fee to visit the Hoyt Arboretum. The park operates solely on grants, donations, and volunteer efforts.

How old are the redwoods in Hoyt Arboretum?

In terms of just how old these majestic trees can get, the redwoods at Hoyt Arboretum are still in their infancy. They were planted in 1931.

How far is Hoyt Arboretum from downtown Portland?

Hoyt Arboretum is just two miles from downtown Portland, accessible by car, MAX Train, TriMet bus, walking, or biking

Is Washington Park free?

Washington Park itself is free, although parking fees are $2.50 as of this writing.

What's the parking like at Hoyt Arboretum and Washington Park?

The parking lot fills up quickly, so we strongly suggest either arriving very early to secure a parking spot or skipping the car altogether in lieu of Portland's TriMet Transit Service or Washington Park's shuttle bus. There often isn't sufficient parking, especially during the warmer months as visitors flock to the Rose Garden. Many visitors skip the lots and opt to take the MAX.

Portland's MAX in the tunnel beneath Portland Zoo, AvgeekJoe

When is Hoyt Arboretum open?

Hoyt Arboretum is open daily from 5 am-10 pm, seven days a week, although access roads to entering traffic close at 9:30 pm.

Where is Hoyt Arboretum located?

The Arboretum is located at:

4000 SW Fairview Blvd., Portland, OR 97221