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Albany Riverfront Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

White alders at First Lake, Simpson Park, Albany (bobcat)
Rocks on the Calapooia, Monteith Riverpark, Albany (bobcat)
Railroad bridge, Dave Clark Trail, Albany (bobcat)
Big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), Dave Clark Trail, Albany (bobcat)
Willamette River, Bowman Park, Albany (bobcat)
The hike along the Willamette riverfront in Albany (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Monteith Riverpark TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Simpson Park Trail End
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 60 feet
  • High Point: 215 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No
Nettles
Poison Oak

Contents

Description

It’s possible now to walk almost the entire Willamette River waterfront in Albany due to an interconnected trail system. Begin at the mouth of the Calapooia River and walk east along a wide bend in the river. You’ll be away from the Willamette for a few residential blocks, but eventually you’ll reach the wooded, natural setting of Simpson Park. The riverfront trail also connects directly with the Cox Creek Trail and Albany’s Talking Water Gardens.

Walk past the playground and under powerlines to the line of maples above the Calapooia River. A footpath leads down to the trail along the river. A rough user tread leads left under a railroad bridge. Go right under maple, cottonwood, and ash until you reach the mouth of the river where it joins the Willamette. There’s a sand bar here that offers views downriver to the Highway 20 road bridges. You can walk back through a willow thicket to the lawns of Monteith Park: the bandstand here hosts a popular series of summer concerts. Pick up a paved path and follow it as you walk downriver.

Pass a viewing platform that leads out above a dock and the sand bar. Walk by a second viewing platform as you look across the river to the forested verge that is Takena Landing Park (See the Takena Landing Hike). Take a boardwalk under the first Highway 20 bridge. A railroad runs along Water Avenue to your right. Pass under the second bridge and reach a marker for the Dave Clark Riverfront Park (Clark was Director of Albany Parks between 1974 and 2002). You'll encounter The Wheelhouse, a new office building and event center designed to fit in with the "old" waterfront, and continue on this fenced path with views of the Willamette from its steep bank forested with cottonwood, ash, and maple. There's an antique store and a brewery before you walk under a railroad trestle. There are empty lots to the right and signs warn you not to take user tracks down to the river. The trail dips to cross a willowy bottomland before rising to meet Front Avenue.

Walk three blocks on Front and go right on Harrison Street, following signs for Bowman Park. Turn left on Water Avenue after one block and cross Periwinkle Creek. Keep going through a residential neighborhood until you come to Geary Street. Go left here and walk down to Bowman Park. The last house on your left is a foam volcano, and yes a dwelling, built by Steve Fletcher, owner of Sprayfoam, Inc. You may feed the fish in his pond by putting coins in the dispenser.

Take up the chip riverside trail at Bowman Park. At first, there’s a fenced open lot to your left and then you reach a junction. Keep straight under maples and cottonwoods to reached an open area dominated by willows. There are plantings here of riverine shrubs, such as flowering currant, twinberry, spiraea, thimbleberry, and elderberry. Cross Cox Creek on a concrete bridge. In an open area, an alternative trail leads right that will connect with the main trail in Simpson Park. The trail becomes muddy before you reach a junction with the road track that leads right past First Lake to the Simpson Park Trailhead and Talking Water Gardens (See the Cox Creek to Talking Waters Hike for a description of Talking Waters, which could be a diversion from this point). Keep straight here to enter Simpson Park.

First Lake and Second Lakes are two oxbow lakes that are remnants of a former Willamette River channel. A wide chip trail, which can get soft and wet, leads between the lakes and the river in a woodland now dominated by large cottonwoods and Douglas-firs. Gradually, you leave invasive species like Armenian blackberry and English holly behind and the vegetation becomes more natural, with an understory of thimbleberry and snowberry. However, both poison oak and nettles also flourish here, so take care if you choose a narrow user path leading to the lakes or the river.

Past the route to the Simpson Park Trailhead, you’ll see the alternative loop coming in to your left under a bower of hazel. To the right, First Lake, which in the past was used as a mill pond by the Simpson Lumber Company, glistens: user paths lead to its shores. On a sunny day, look for turtles taking in the rays on one of the logs. Also, you’ll see trees with cables around them that were used for tying up log rafts. One mile from the entrance to Simpson Park, the road bed splits. A narrow path takes you into a grassy area with a spur leading to the river. From this point, you need to return the way you came.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • No fee
  • Dogs on leash
  • Restrooms (closed in winter), picnic tables, paddle boats in summer
  • Open 6:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Wild in the Willamette edited by Lorraine Anderson with Abby Phillips Metzger

More Links


Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.