We’re doing something a little different this week. In addition to exploring hidden pathways and unique neighborhood streets, we are going to tell you where to find delicious fresh blackberries! This post is published at just about the right time for peak ripeness. So, grab your favorite fruit bucket and read on for details.
This route begins, ends, and crosses over George Himes Park. Along the way, you’ll see the Willamette Greenway, historic John’s Landing and the proposed route for the “Red Electric Trail. In addition, we have identified four sizeable blackberry patches where you can pick your fill. These locations are marked on the map with a red symbol and are detailed in the narrative below (click on the points for more details and pictures). The Himalayan Blackberry Rubus armeniacus is cultivated in some areas for its delicious berries, but is considered an invasive species in most other areas. As one of the most invasive species in the temperate world it is terribly harmful to the ecosystem, but the berries make some of the best homemade cobbler around… a sweet by-product of an otherwise undesirable plant! (see the note of caution about picking wild berries at the bottom of this post)
The hike begins at SW Terwilliger and Nebraska. Parking is available along Nebraska. The park is named for George Himes who, as a nine year old, walked from Illinois to Olympia WA in a wagon train. He spent half his life as a printer and served as founder and director of the Oregon Historical Society.
Follow the Trail 3 signs into the Himes gully and note how open vegetation is in this park. Large invasive species like Laurel and Holly were removed by volunteers in the 2000’s. There is an ongoing battle to pull, treat and kill the English Ivy; however, attempts to remove the pervasive blackberry population have been unsuccessful.
As you approach the first switchback, look east to see bits of Barbur Blvd and the I-5 freeway. This is the proposed pedestrian route of the Red Electric Trail which will connect the Fanno Creek Trail to the Willamette Greenway. The Red Electric Trail is being devised as west Portland’s equivalent to East Portland’s Springwater Corridor to create a much-needed pedestrian and cycling connection to downtown.
When you reach a “Y” intersection on the trail, turn right and continue down the steps to a gentler downhill slope. You are walking on top of a 24″ line that carries water from pumping stations at Willamette park to water tanks in the west hills.
Carry on down the gulley at about a 6% grade. On the hillside to the left is BERRY PATCH #1. It can be found just before the wooden bridge and covers an area of roughly 2 acres. This area is very steep, but if you’re adventurous, pick as many berries as your container allows. After picking your fill, pass under the wooden bridge carrying the 4 lanes of Barbur traffic. This ~500 ft bridge, called the “Newbury Structure”, was built in 1933 for a total cost of about $125,000.
Continuing east, you’ll descend more steps until you reach the lower trailhead at Iowa St. Leaving Himes park, continue on Iowa St to Macadam. Use caution when crossing Macadam; be sure both lanes of traffic stop before venturing across.
After crossing, turn right in front of Starbucks and go south on the sidewalk to an angle left street that goes behind the Chevron service station. This is an old trolley line right-of-way. At Beaver St, (adjacent to the Willamette Sailing club) make a hard left to follow the Willamette Greenway. Approach the river and you’ll come to BERRY PATCH #2. Due to the popularity of the Greenway, berries at this location may be picked already. If that’s the case, take a moment to enjoy the beauty; you may see eagles in the trees of Ross Island, or other waterfowl enjoying the river.
Continue north along the Greenway until you come to a brass beaver statue. This Statue is called ‘Lucy’ in honor of a longtime resident of the nearby condominium, and is often decorated with attire apropos of an upcoming holiday or passing of the season. On the left is a wide walkway leading away from the river; take it and continue to Macadam.
Once you are on the west side of Macadam proceed up the curvy sidewalk to Corbett in the heart of the John’s Landing area. Walk north (uphill) along Corbett to Seymour Ct; this is the location of BERRY PATCH #3, and home to a set of stairs constructed by SWTrails volunteers. Any berries picked in this area should be thoroughly washed before eating due to road grime from Corbett and I-5.
Continue walking north on Corbett across the I-5 overpass, and make a left on Seymour St, followed by an immediate left to Slavin Rd. Slavin Rd is named after an early settler in the area and is now home to hundreds of low-income apartments located in a niche between I-5 and Barbur. After roughly 3/4 miles, you will come to a gate that marks the end of Slavin road. Walk around the gate on a well-traveled footpath. Trails leading up and down the slopes on each side lead to homeless camps. Be respectful if you encounter anyone, and practice good judgement. Stay on the main footpath heading south until you come to BERRY PATCH #4. There are actually berries all along Slavin Rd; however, the map point indicates an area of higher concentration. Of all the berry picking areas, this is likely the best as it is- less steep, less popular, and has less grime than the others.
The footpath emerges to a gravel access road that reaches Barbur Blvd. Walk south along Barbur and across the Newberry bridge. Look down to see the Himes Park trail you just took that is 300’ beneath you. Cross Barbur at an unmarked crossing just before Parkhill Dr (again using caution) and take a unique staircase leading uphill to Parkhill Dr. Turn right to Parkhill Way and follow it as it turns into Nebraska St, and back to where you began at the corner with Terwilliger.
*To follow this route, use the Explorer for ArcGIS App to follow along. Simply Download the Explorer for ArcGIS app and touch here on any mobile device. The route is highlighted on an interactive map.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #swtrails to share your very best pictures (and be sure to include pictures of your yummy blackberry baked goods too.)