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Kelley Point Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mouth of the Willamette at Kelley Point (bobcat)
Walking the dog, Kelley Point (bobcat)
Cormorants and gulls, Kelley Point (bobcat)
Port terminal on the Willamette, seen from Kelley Point Park (bobcat)
The loop described here (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps


Hike Description

The Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet at Kelley Point, and the park's rustling cottonwoods and sandy beaches form idyllic verges to the wide expanses of these two great rivers. Before European settlement, this area was a seasonally flooded sandbar, but the park area was built up by dredgings from the Port of Portland. Hall Jackson Kelley, the Boston teacher for whom the park is named, arrived here in 1834 and talked about building a city at the confluence of the two rivers. He ran afoul of the Hudson's Bay Company and returned to the East Coast, but his fantastical and misleading writings about the area, before and after his arrival, became one of the "inspirations" for those who chose to embark upon the Oregon Trail. As Don Berry states in A Majority of Scoundrels, "Kelley's was one of the higher-pitched voices of Manifest Destiny, and he brought to his chosen task the dedication and passion of the fanatic; and also the fanatic's unwillingness to let facts influence his position."

From the South Lot, take a paved path at its southern end that leads into a forest of cottonwoods. At a junction, go left on a paved trail to a daisy meadow in an old walnut orchard along the Columbia Slough - an ideal spot for a bucolic picnic. Then return, and go left on the paved tread leading up the Willamette River. Nettles line the trail here. Paths lead left to the narrow beach. At a junction in an open area, take a bark chip trail down to the beach. Here there will usually be a rather tranquil scene, with a couple of fishermen and Caspian terns plying the waters in the summer. Across the Willamette are the fields of Sauvie Island. Walk along the beach to the pilings at the point, where cormorants and gulls perch for prey. The snowy summit of Mount Saint Helens protrudes above the row of cottonwoods on the Washington side of the Columbia. Turning the point at some wooden buttresses and an old anchor, you can see Mount Hood in the distance across the Friendly Reach. Head inland to the paved path and go left. Keep left under the cottonwoods, where there are many side trails. After you pass Picnic Area F, the trail curves right past a restroom building. Walk across a lawn to the north parking lot and then pick up a sandy track that heads across the peninsula through a snowberry thicket. At a junction, go left and reach a vehicle track. This parallels the paved trail you walked in on. Reach the paved trail and walk back to the South Lot. Alternatively, you can pick a route on one of the use trails through the undergrowth, but keep an eye out for nettles.

Kelley Point is part of the 40-mile Loop Trail.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Open 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Urban Trails: Portland by Eli Boschetto
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck and M.J. Cody (editors)
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Peaceful Places: Portland by Paul Gerald
  • The Willamette River Field Guide by Travis Williams
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

More Links


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.