Forest Park Entrance and Nature Center

The Entrance and Nature Center will provide an inclusive welcoming entrance to Forest Park. The entrance is under construction now. In a future phase (timeline TBD), the Nature Center will showcase the park’s special character and its timeless importance to Portland and the greater region. 
Forest Park Trail
The new parking area is now open to the community for use.
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Project Update - March 2024

Firelane 1 has reopened, and the new parking lot is open for use. Please note the parking lot will be locked nightly at 6pm due to its remote location. 

While the site includes improved routes for pedestrians and cyclists, visitors should note that this section of the trail is quite steep, with grades up to 35% for short distances. 

Features included in this phase were:

  • Trailhead access road and parking lot for 30 cars with two ADA parking spaces and bus drop off
  • Trailhead area and signage
  • Firelane 1 improvements to restore the width and gravel surface
  • Timber steps adjacent to the Firelane 
  • Fireland grading and surface improvements to facilitate Porltand Fire & Rescue access, pedestrians, and cyclists 
  • Bike racks and trash receptacles 
  • Native plantings and stormwater treatment in the parking lot as well as in the wetland and associated conveyance, and
  • Street frontage improvements including a sidewalk. 

What you will experience

A steep trail with a set of wooden steps next to it

Street and sidewalk improvements along NW St. Helens Road provide safe access for visitors travelling by foot, bicycle, bus or car. After a gentle climb adjacent to wetlands and forest, visitors arrive at the trailhead parking area at an upper level, some twenty feet above the level of NW St. Helens Road. Here, there is a drop-off area for buses and parking for 30 cars (including 2 accessible spaces). Next to the drop off area is the main trailhead to access Firelane 1 bicycle and pedestrian trail. A portapotty and trash receptacle are available. 

View from top of trail looking towards a parking lot and industrial area

Firelane 1 was repaired and its original 12-foot width reestablished to allow improved access and eliminate the rutted and eroded condition of the existing road. Please note that the trail still has steep conditions, and there are two routes - one for walking and one for cyclists.  

Pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular circulation is laid out to reduce disturbance to the forest and wetlands on site, allowing opportunities to interpret native plant communities and the diverse tree canopy.

Map showing the parking area and future phases that will built a nature center.

Project Vision

“The Forest Park Entry and Nature Center project will create a timeless, versatile, easy to navigate place for all Portlanders that fits within the aesthetic of Forest Park; a safe place to connect to and engage with the park, nature, and other people through learning, recreation, play, and stewardship – a place to make great memories.”

Project Overview

The Entrance and Nature Center will provide an inclusive welcoming entrance to Forest Park. The future Nature Center will showcase the park’s special character and its timeless importance to Portland and the greater region. 

The elements proposed for this project include:

  • an accessible site entry, parking, efficient circulation, and bus drop off
  • visitor amenities such as pedestrian and bike trails, boardwalks and a gathering space/amphitheater
  • an iconic and inviting Nature Center, educational exhibits, community gathering and learning spaces, classrooms, public restrooms, as well as office functions
  • enhanced natural landscape and wetland plantings

Forest Park is a treasured ecological and recreational resource for all Portlanders. To help us understand your needs and concerns around this important project, we have:

  • reached out to more than 50 partners and organizations
  • engaged more than 10 community organizations through focus groups and on our Advisory Committee
  • received thousands of public comments throughout the process
  • developed a preferred design alternative that represents a balanced and thoughtful approach to meeting your needs while taking into consideration the complexity of the project site and the resulting constraints as well as PP&R staff input

This preferred alternative sets up the basic program elements, the scale of the project and the general layout of site. We will continue to refine details based on technical reviews and cost considerations.


Funding for the design and permitting of this project came from Systems Development Charges and the State of Oregon. This phase of the project was completed in June 2017 when more than 30 Advisory Committee member and Focus Group participants overwhelmingly supported the Final Design.

The entire budget to fully develop the Entrance and Nature Center is estimated at approximately $18 million. PP&R has $4.8 million currently allocated for the project.

The final design for the Entrance and Nature Center included the engagement of more than 50 community groups and organizations, and hundreds of individuals contributed thousands of comments. The product of this financial investment and community input is a facility and design that will serve Portlanders for decades. 

Portland Parks & Recreation is committed to working to deliver the community supported plan. In order to ensure that we continue to make progress, we are moving forward with the project in phases. Full development of the project will be accomplished as funding is available.

Project Schedule

  • January 2016 - RFP for design was issued
  • June 2016 - Dangermond Keane Architecture selected to lead design
  • June 2017 - Advisory Committee and community support final design
  • June 2020 - Complete Phase 1 Environmental Review
  • October 2021  - Begin Phase 1 Construction for Forest Park Entrance
  • Fall 2022 - Construction completed on Phase 1 
  • TBD: Construction of Future Nature Center 


Forest Park

Natural Area


Gary Datka (he, him)

Capital Project Manager

Maija Spencer (she, they)

Senior Community Engagement Coordinator