Portland is known as one of the top U.S. bicycling towns. I knew that. I see the cyclists all over the city. For a time in the late nineties I was even a cyclist myself (albeit in Canby, about half an hour south of the city). But I’d never actually bicycled in Portland until today.

Yesterday I got our bikes out of the garage and primed them for action. We’ve been in this house — about eight miles south of Porland — for two years now, and we haven’t biked once. That’s a shame. Today, seizing the beautiful day, I set off for a joyride. “I’m going to go check to see if there’s an easy way into Milwaukie,” I told Kris. Milwaukie is the city just north of us, about five minutes away by car.

I rode down River Road, cut over on Bluebird, and then cut north on 19th. There the road dead-ends into a bike path behind the Kellogg Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. The path winds behind the plant, and then up onto 99E in downtown Milwaukie.

“That was quick,” I thought. “I wonder how long it takes to get from here to Sellwood.” Answer: not long. Underneath the Sellwood Bridge, I stumbled upon the Springwater Corridor, a paved multiuse trail that runs past Oaks Park and along the Oaks Bottom Slough, on the banks of the Willamette River. I followed the path into Portland, through the Central Eastside industrial area, past OMSI, to the Hawthorne Bridge.

There I filled up on water, turned around, and rode home.


Why haven’t I done this before? Even as a Fat Boy, this was a great ride. Families were out in force, riding together on the path. Everyone seemed to be respectful of the rules, and the traffic flow was easy. (In vast contrast to the Canby Bike Path, which I hated to ride: nobody had any respect for anyone else, often walking four abreast to take up the entire path and then refusing to yield to oncoming cyclists.)

Best of all was the natural world. I saw a great blue heron swooping low over the slough, his vast wings swooshing and swooshing and swooshing. High above the trees along 13th I saw an enormous eagle or hawk — beautiful white underside with golden wings. It was carrying a limb in its talons, carrying it out to an electrical tower on the river where it appeared to be building a nest. I saw two swallowtail butterflies dancing together, stationary in midair.

It was a great rise, although my tender muscles are now sore.

I’ll have to do this again next week.

5 Replies to “Biking Portland: Oak Grove to Hawthorne Bridge”

  1. Amy Jo says:

    Your ride sounds lovely. I keep threatening to haul my bike out of the basement and actually ride it, at least to the coffee shop!

  2. Amanda says:

    Awesome! I bought a bike about four months ago and have discovered the joys of riding. We have a beautiful trail near my house and it is just divine to ride on it, even in the 90+ degree heat.

  3. Joel says:

    Oooo, nostalgia. We used to bike south on the Springwater Corridor all the time. I had secret ambitions to one day do the whole thing, but about two hours seems to be the limit of my attention span for biking.

  4. jc says:

    So, after River Road, there’s a shortcut instead of having to make that terrifying left merge onto 99E?! Great! And, how’s that hill on the way back up 22nd?! Looks brutal. Springwater Trail is wonderful. I like riding it during dusk when the lights are on the carnival rides at Oaks Park.

  5. Josh says:

    High above the trees along 13th I saw an enormous eagle or hawk — beautiful white underside with golden wings.

    Probably an osprey. I’ve seen them in that area before. Did it look like this?

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