With spring in full effect, we welcome the chance to explore one of Portland’s most celebrated pedestrian routes, historic Terwilliger Parkway. Read on for more details.
Name: Terwilliger Corbett Loop
Neighborhood: South Portland, Hillsdale, Homestead
Distance: 6.97 miles
Elevation Change: 439 ft
Start/End Location: S. Boundary and S. Corbett Ave
Map Links: Mobile* Browser
SW Terwilliger Blvd has long been a walker’s and runner’s destination in Portland. In the 70’s and 80’s, the Cascade Run Off 15k was one of the most popular races in the country. The fabled course ascended Terwilliger and returned down to Barbur Blvd and Naito Parkway. These days, SW Terwilliger Blvd is a major thoroughfare for bike commuters, and as of March 15, 2021, the parkway has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places (read more here)!
While the loop can be started at other points, this description starts at the corner of S Boundary St and S Corbett Avenue. Street parking is free, and you can also park for two hours in the lot at the Water Tower.
Head south on S Corbett Avenue and walk through the Johns Landing neighborhood which was established in the 1920’s. Watch for locally-owned JoLa Café (JoLa is short for Johns Landing) as a potential site for a post-walk coffee or light meal. Continue up S Corbett Ave, and by up, we mean up! This section of the walk is referred to as the Corbett Incline by residents of the neighborhood. It’s easiest to stay on the left side of Corbett as there are several nicely spaced flat spots to catch your breath before you continue up the next section. At the top of S Corbett Ave, turn right onto S Custer St. Stay on the left side of S Custer and follow the curve onto S Brier Place and walk across the bridge over I-5. Turn left on SW Miles St. Just past the Fulton Park Community Center, take the gravel road to the left into the Community Gardens. There are usually people at work taking care of their plots, especially during the spring and summer. Turn right onto S Third Avenue to exit the gardens and you end up on SW Barbur Blvd. Turn right and walk back to the signal. Cross SW Barbur Blvd and head up SW 3rd Avenue. It’s a short but rather steep climb. Turn left on SW Nevada St (not Court), cross SW 5th Avenue and continue onto the dirt trail to SW Terwilliger Blvd. Turn right.
Continue on SW Terwilliger Blvd, to SW Nebraska St. Take the trail into George Himes Park, staying left to parallel SW Terwilliger Blvd. It’s a nice diversion off the beaten path. The trail re-joins the paved Terwilliger path near SW Capitol Hwy. Cross SW Capitol Hwy and continue on SW Terwilliger Blvd until you reach the Chart House restaurant. You can take a short detour here to Elk Point Viewpoint, just on the left side of the restaurant, which features a beautiful totem pole carved by Chief Lelooska in 1959. Return back to SW Terwilliger Blvd and continue walking north. Cross SW Hamilton St and enjoy this newly-opened up view of Mt. Hood to the east. Continue on SW Terwilliger, walking under the Portland Aerial Tram. Just before Terwilliger curves to the left, look for a dirt trail on your right going steeply downhill. Follow this trail down to the Duniway Park Track. Alternatively, if you don’t want to walk on the trail, simply stay on the paved Terwilliger trail and follow it down to the track. At the track, turn right and go up the short flight of stairs at the Under Armour building. Walk out to SW Barbur Blvd, turn right and cross Barbur at the signal at SW Hooker St. Walk diagonally on the path through Lair Hill Park out to SW 2nd Avenue and turn right, walking past the Waldorf School. Continue on SW 2nd Ave until it intersects with SW 1st Ave where you will take a right. Take a left at SW Whitaker St. Cross SW Naito Pkwy carefully (there is an island in the middle to help you get across). SWTrails PDX has been working to get a cross walk installed at this site . . . construction is currently slated for the summer of 2021! Follow S Whitaker St to S Corbett Ave and take a right.
Continue another mile south on S Corbett Ave to return to your starting point. Another locally owned café, Elephants on Corbett, is also an excellent choice for a well-earned treat!
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #swtrails to share your very best pictures.