Willamette Greenway Trail

The Springwater Corridor, along the east side of the Willamette River, is one of the major human-powered superhighways in Portland–every day it’s full of bike commuters, joggers, walkers, birdwatchers, joyriders, you name it. But on the other side of the river, there’s also a lovely multi-use path which is sometimes overlooked: the Willamette Greenway Trail.

It starts, sort of, at the west side of the Sellwood bridge:

You zigzag down and cross underneath Macadam Blvd, which at this point might still be called Highway 43, then come up a short hill to what looks like nothing. But if you take the little tiny path to the right–

–you’re on the right track. It’s a really narrow path. I’ve never actually run into someone else on it, but every time I take it I wonder how we would handle it if I came across a biker going the other direction. I think one of us would have to pull off the trail.

That picture is the wide part. As the trail goes down and then back up a bitty dip, it gets narrower, and the wall on the left gets more confining. Needless to say, it’s not the best part of this ride.

But after that, things get lovely. You follow the green bike signs for the Willamette Greenway and pretty soon you’re biking along this kind of thing:

The trail takes you through a little mini-neighborhood, about 100 yards of houses on both sides, then into Willamette Park.

In the park, you’ve got options: you can take the right path, which takes you along the river-side of the park, but is windier and less smoothly paved, or you can take the left path, which takes you to the road/parking lot. When I lived in Lake Oswego and used to commute to downtown Portland this way sometimes, I’d take the parking lot for its speediness, but the way to the right is much nicer for a joyride.

And what a lovely joyride it is, especially in the fall!

There’s even the random beaver statue, which always has some sort of offering placed in its hands:

But the best part: this trail is now connected via amazing cycle path to the Waterfront park in Portland! The end of the Greenway Trail used to spit you into this crazy construction wasteland–sometimes paved, sometimes not, after a while with a funny little path through the burgeoning OHSU expansion. But now! Now, it connects with this amazing separated path that takes you safely right to the waterfront. It’s still not finished, but even in its halfway state, it was full of bikers, walkers, and dog-walkers.

Do you see that amazing thing?? The road has two lanes of traffic, then there’s a streetcar track that separates it from the raised ped/bike path. This seems like the ultimate in safe place to be. I’m psyched about it. The only potential nastiness that I can see is when you take it southbound. The raised, separated path ends, but the bike lane continues next to the streetcar, with car parking on the right. It’s okay, unless large vehicles overlap the bike lane. I found myself coming up on this truck with the streetcar to my left, and it felt a little squishy.

But the actual raised path is amazing. It’s a great connector for two great bike paths, the Willamette Greenway Tail and the Waterfront path–maybe it’ll even be a viable way of commuting now:) And I’m really excited about the potential for other bikeways like this, where you’re actually physically separated from cars, in a way that doesn’t impede your own ability to get where you need to go. Awesome.

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