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George Himes-Willamette Park Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Magnolia, Mt. Scott and Mt. Hood from Texas Street (bobcat)
George Himes plaque, George HImes Park (bobcat)
Sailing class on the river, Willamette Park (bobcat)
Looking down the 99-step alley, Fulton Park Neighborhood (bobcat)
Community garden, Fulton Park (bobcat)
The loop from George Himes Park to Willamette Park and Fulton Community Park (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: George Himes TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Willamette Park Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 490 feet
  • High Point: 470 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Only at Willamette Park

Contents

Hike Description

This loop takes in a couple salient features of Southwest Portland: the leafy lower slopes of the Southwest Hills, the pleasant verges of the Willamette River, and neighborhoods tumbling down the incline, in places offering wide-ranging views to Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens. The route generally follows parts of SW Trails Routes 3 and 4 (SW Trails is a neighborhood organization that has plotted several interesting walking routes through this part of the city). The hike begins at forested George Himes Park on Terwilliger Boulevard: George Himes was one of the original Oregon pioneers and arrived in the state in 1853. He was the first curator of the Oregon Historical Society.

To get a view of Mount Hood, walk down Nebraska to where it meets Parkhill Drive (but there will be other, better views of the mountain as you close this loop). Find the trail leading down past a picnic table into the George Himes Natural Area. At a junction, go right and traverse down a slope under Douglas-fir and cedar with an Indian plum, snowberry, sword fern, Oregon grape understory. Ivy has been cleared from some of these slopes but is still a major presence in other areas. Reach a trail junction and go right to descend some steps into the bottom of the gully at a topless cottonwood. A wide trail leads down the gully and under one of the big trestles supporting Barbur Boulevard. A graveled tread denotes the recently reopened (2014) section of the trail where it drops down more steps and under the I-5 freeway. A set of older rail tie steps leads to View Point Terrace in the Fulton neighborhood.

Cross View Point Terrace and head straight down Iowa Street. In a couple of long blocks, reach Macadam Avenue and cross it. Go right one block and, at Carolina Street, turn left to cross the rail tracks. An access road leads right here into Willamette Park (If you have a dog, there is an off-leash area along the railroad right-of-way).

Walk towards the river to get views across the water to the south end of Ross Island. Look for the great blue heron and bald eagle nests during the winter months. Cross the boat launch parking area and look for the purple martin nesting boxes. There are restrooms here, but they’re closed in the winter although there may be a Honey Bucket standing in. A paved path leads around Stevens Point, where you can get a view to snow-capped Mount Hood rearing above Oaks Park and Willamette River houseboats. To the south, the Sellwood Bridge spans the river. Under tall cottonwoods, pass a spur leading down to a narrow gravel beach opposite a small rock island. From the main trail, look to your right to check out a huge Oregon white oak, one of the largest in the Portland area.

The trail leaves Willamette Park where it reaches SW Miles Place. Turn right onto Miles Street, cross the railroad right-of-way, and come to Macadam. Cross Macadam and head up Miles to where it becomes Taylors Ferry Road leading up the hill to the left. Hike along the sidewalk up Taylors Ferry, passing Virginia Avenue to reach La View Drive. At a SW Trails 4 sign, a flight of steps leads up, the beginning of a 99-step corridor that ends at Kelly Avenue but crosses three other streets. From the junction with Custer Street, there’s a view to Mount Hood behind Mount Scott; Larch Mountain and Silver Star Mountain also stand out. Also look for Mount Saint Helens to the north.

Now walk up Custer, crossing Corbett Avenue and View Point Terrace. The road bends right as SW Briar Place and crosses I-5 on a two-lane overpass. Fulton Park is to your left; then go left on Miles Street past the old school and community center, which also houses a French immersion school. Take the gravel road leading down into the Fulton Community Garden. This road loops around; at a junction, go right up towards Barbur Boulevard (An optional diversion takes you on a trail leading left from the gravel road to parallel the freeway in an alder/maple gull; cross Terwilliger Boulevard, and eventually fetch up at Burlingame Park). Once you reach Barbur, walk right to a signaled crosswalk, cross Barbur, and then take a few steps back to steep 3rd Avenue. Get a view of Mount Hood where Texas Street intersects with 3rd; however, the best and highest view is from California Street. Keep north and loop around to 4th Street. Walk down 4th to Nevada, where you turn right. At Nevada and 5th, a public right of way leads between back yards to Terwilliger Boulevard.

Go right and take the sidewalk up Terwilliger until you reach a paved trail. This trail takes you into leafy Douglas-fir/big-leaf maple forest and soon separates from the road. Indian plum blossoms in the understory in early spring. Drop a little and then ascend to Nebraska Street and George Himes Park to complete the loop.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Parking free at George Himes Park
  • Paid parking at Willamette Park
  • Park hours: 5:00 a.m. - midnight
  • Dogs on leash
  • Picnic tables (George Himes Park, Fulton Park) and larger picnic areas and restrooms at Willamette Park
  • Children’s play area (Willamette Park, Fulton Park), playing fields (Willamette Park)

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Walk There! 50 Treks In and Around Portland and Vancouver edited by Laura O. Foster
  • Walking Portland, Oregon by Sybilla Avery Cook (Willamette Park)
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck and M.J. Cody (editors) (Willamette Park)
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson (Willamette Park)

More Links


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.