We have been posting hikes for an entire year and have none of our routes have left the west side of Portland. Here you have it – in this hike we venture across two bridges while exploring Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and Sellwood Riverfront Park. Coincidentally, this hike has the least elevation change of any of our hikes at only 87 feet! Does this mean that there are more hills in West Portland?
This hike offers a great variety of attractions. There are fabulous views of the Willamette River from along the Springwater Corridor and the Willamette Greenway Trail, not to mention from the Tilikum and Sellwood bridges, and there is wildlife to be seen in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. There are also restaurants along the South Waterfront where you can grab a coffee or meal.
If the length seems too long, it can easily be shortened to just the Oaks Bottom section. If more distance is desired, extend the hike past the Tilikum on the Eastbank Esplanade and cross one of the many other Portland bridges (a walk to the Steel bridge makes for the ultimate Central Portland loop).
While the loop can be started at other points, Sellwood Riverfront Park (1221 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202) is chosen as it is free to park and has public restrooms available.
From the parking lot, walk uphill to the entrance sign and take the path to the south to SE Spokane St. Then go east (uphill) past the Springwater Trail and the railroad tracks to SE Grand St. Turn left in front of the historic Oaks Pioneer Church for just 100 feet before turning left onto the access trail to Sellwood Park. Go downhill and stay on the trail going north as it parallels the railroad tracks. Soon after the trail leading up to steps to the neighborhood above, take the Oaks Bottom trail to the right and follow it along the base of the bank. You will soon come to an excellent wildlife viewing platform. When ready, continue along this trail until you reach the “T” intersection at the smaller ponds. Turn left and walk west past these ponds but detour to the marked Tadpole Pond further ahead to the right if of interest. When ready, continue west, using the railroad tracks underpass, and turn right onto the Springwater Trail going north. The first part of this trail showcases the scenic Holgate Channel around Ross Island. Continue past the Springwater Corridor gate by the Ross Island Sand and Gravel industrial complex and onto SW 4th Ave, continuing north. Turn left on SE Caruthers St for 1 block, then right on SE 2nd Pl by the Opera Center to come to the Tilikum Bridge. Take a left onto the bridge sidewalk for the south side of the bridge and go across the bridge, enjoying the views.
At the far side of the bridge, continue until turning left onto the S Moody Ave sidewalk. Proceed south along Moody until you reach Caruthers Park on your left. Turn left into Caruthers Park and take any of the trails that get you diagonally across the park to S Bond Ave. Continue south, now on S Bond, until you reach S Bancroft. Turn left and go east to the Old Spaghetti Factory. On the river side of the restaurant, you will pick up the Willamette Greenway Trail where you go south along the trail. Follow this trail, enjoying the views as it wanders past restaurants, bays and condominiums. Continue south and you will enter Willamette Park. Many of our hikes pass through this beautiful waterfront park. At the south end of S Miles St. pick up the trail again and continue south further on the trail until you approach the Sellwood Bridge. Just before the bridge, take the switchback ramp up to the bridge access then cross the bridge using the sidewalk on the northern side. On the east side of the bridge look for the small connecting trail to SE Grand Ave. Turn left on it and go to SE Spokane, turn left (downhill) back to the trail into Sellwood Riverfront Park where you started.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #swtrails to share your very best pictures.