Willamette Greenway Trail

The Willamette Greenway represents the interface between the Willamette River and terrestrial habitats along its length. Heavily urbanized within the City of Portland, acquisition opportunities focus on remaining habitat patches and restoration opportunities. The oak escarpment that runs the length of Portland’s east side is included in this target area.

Lenny Anderson, co-founder of the npGreenway, describes the North Portland Greenway Trail to visitors

NpGreenway, the advocacy group that promotes the completion of the northern segment of the Willamette Greenway:

Cyclist enjoys completed segment of the North Portland Greenway Trail Swan Island

“…envisions a trail system providing access to and along the Willamette River enveloping the north riverfront from the Steel Bridge in downtown Portland to Kelley Point Park on the Columbia River.  Our goal is to link North Portland neighborhoods with the Willamette River for recreation and access to jobs. This
expansion of the Willamette Greenway will include a network of trails used for activities such as walking, running, cycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, skiing, boating and wildlife viewing. The North Portland Greenway Trail will connect with the existing Willamette River trail system serving residents and visitors throughout the region. npGREENWAY will work collaboratively with community stakeholders to realize this goal.”

Content courtesy of npGreenway

Aerial Photograph of Swan Island Segment of Willamette Greenway

Natural Area Acquisition Target Areas

The Willamette Greenway is a regional bond measure target area. The regional goal from Metro is:Protect fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and scenic resources and improve public access to the river along the greenway from Wilsonville to the Multnomah Channel.

 Special Status Habitats*

  • Bottomland hardwood forest
  • Floodplain wetlands
  • Oak woodlands

Important habitat features:

  • Shallow water sites
  • Confluence sites
  • Rock outcrops

*Special Status Habitats include habitat types that have been recognized by state and federal agencies or organizations as being ecologically important. Portland’s Special Status Habitats include “Strategy Habitats” identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy that are found in Portland: herbaceous wetlands, upland prairie and native grasslands, oak woodlands, interior forests (especially late successional conifer forests), bottomland hardwood forest, and riparian habitat.

 –Content courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation

One response to “Willamette Greenway Trail

  1. I was pretty disappointed at the last openhouse. The current plan to is to show a “near-term buildable” solution that they optimistically think could be built in 20 years. This plan doesn’t address getting from the Esplanade to Swan Island, and proposes to use existing (unsafe) infrastructure along Interstae with a new separated trail along Greely with some very awkward and unsafe movements at Going. I believe that if we are expecting this to take 20 years, we should put a stronger foot forward so we have something worth fighting for and investing in! The northernmost sections seem reasonable (from Kelly Point to U of P) however, the option for getting from Swan Island to the Esplanade is inadequate. 2 areas stand out for me as being particularly unsafe, unpleasant and unworthy of investing in:
    1. The off-street, separated trail along the east side of Greeley that will have to be constructed with walls, and basically be a 12′ wide, 2-way trail adjacent to Greeley (unpleasant) that will then tie-in to the existing infrastructure on Interstate (5′ bike paths with 2.5′ pinch points, sidewalks on one side of the street, etc.). This does not seem like money well-spent, and this plan does not seem to consider the recreational side of things.
    2. As I mentioned earlier, the existing “infrastructure” along Interstate is being used for the “near term buildable” (20 years!) through the Rose Quarter and connecting to the Esplanade, a woefully inadequate connection. For some reason, this plan does not show a path along the Thunderbird property with a connection to the Esplanade UNDER the Steel Bridge. In 20 years, there should be the will and capital for this.
    This plan represents an opportunity (hopefully not a missed opportunity!) to provide a vision for the Rose Quarter redevelopment that is being planned now!
    I believe that there are a couple of (expensive, visionary) options worth advocating for, and worth including in the plan:
    1. Esplanade to Thunderbird property: a path suspended from the bridge abutment (over the railroad service drive) from the Esplanade under the Steel bridge to the Thunderbird Property. This could connect to the Esplanade at existing ramp landing.
    2. Tillamook to Thunderbird Property: The Larrabee ramp could be repurposed as civic recreation connector and destination. The existing ramp could become a super wide, elevated garden park with separate biking and walking paths incorporated with hang out spots to overlook the city and west hills: think Highline with a 2-way bike path! This would provide a super strong connection to the river for the Rose Quarter, the Lloyd District, and the Pearl District via the Broadway Bridge. A new elevated path would connect from the ramp , down under the Broadway Bridge (river side) and connect to the Thunderbird property along the top of the bank. Cars and trucks travelling south on Interstate Ave would simply drive a bit further south down Interstate Ave and use the existing left turn lane/signal to access Broadway.
    3. Getting to Swan Island: The Cement Road is the obvious choice, and Parks recognizes this, but their hands are tied because of ownership; understandable. However, From Tillamook, a path could be developed from Tillamook to the end of N. River St, then turn east and follow the alignment of the Fremont Bridge back to Greeley, but stay on the west side. This could keep users below the road, closer to the river, and create a route under Going. Once on the north side of Going, the path could split to acknowledge Swan Island as a destination/peninsula. One path could head west to Basin Ave and the Waud Bluff connection for riders who can handle a large stairway to cross the tracks. This path could also continue to the river near the Port Building and the existing path and beaches. See number 4 for the second route suggestion.
    4. Getting to the University of Portland: From the north side of N. Going St, the path could continue along the base of the bluffs, above the railroad tracks. Some soft walking and jogging paths could run through the wooded area across from Adidas. The path could then slowly climb the hill to join with N Willamette near N. Ainsworth (through what is known as Fennel Park or the Dog Bowl). I would further recommend that Willamette from Rosa Parks to U of P is changed to local car traffic only, or possibly 1 lane, one-way traffic headed north with parking only on the east side,. The west half of the road could then be a shared bike/ped space. The NP Greenway path could head down the existing road grade at N Portsmouth or N Van Houten Pl. and connect with the recommended alignment.
    5. Connections from this path to Overlook Park, Mocks Crest, Madrona Park and Fennel Park/Dog Bowl and maybe a couple of other spots on the bluff for people to enjoy the view of the river and access recreational amenities.
    I am sharing my ideas simply to get you excited, and to illustrate that the plan as it is now neglects the recreational and experiential qualities that will create a successful and valuable place. Please consider taking the time to consider these ideas and possibly include them in your report to present a truly complete path that is safe, beautiful, showcases the river, connects the city to the river, and creates a landmark destination.

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