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William Stafford-Kincaid Curlicue Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

"You Reading This, Be Ready" by William Stafford, Foothills Park (bobcat)
Sprout sculpture, Headlee Parkway, Lake Oswego (bobcat)
View to the Portland & Western Railroad Bridge from Foothills Park, Lake Oswego (bobcat)
The William Stafford Stones, Foothills Park, Lake Oswego (bobcat)
Viewing dolphin in Roehr Park, Lake Oswego (bobcat)
The William Stafford walk in Lake Oswego (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Millennium Plaza TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Oswego Rock Viewpoint
  • Hike Type: In and out with loop and spurs
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 120 feet
  • High Point: 140 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes



William Stafford (1914-1993), widely considered to be Oregon’s most celebrated poet, was a longtime resident of Lake Oswego, and a pathway along the Willamette River honors him by name. You can walk here from Lake Oswego’s “new” downtown core at Millennium Plaza via a short rails to trails project known as the Kincaid Curlicue. Along the way, you’ll learn something of the area's industrial history, in particular Oswego’s second iron furnace, built in 1888 by the Oregon Iron and Steel Company (Take the George Rogers Park Hike to see the rebuilt furnace of 1866): The route of this hike is part of the Oswego Iron Heritage Trail. The riverside trail takes you north almost as far as the mouth of Tryon Creek and south to a spot across from Oswego Rock.

Walk out to the turnaround on First Street and enter Millennium Plaza City Park. Get a view of Oswego Lake’s Lakewood Bay and then head west across the plaza (This is where Lake Oswego’s Farmer’s Market is set up on Saturdays from mid-May to October). At the west end of the plaza are a large covered pergola, fireplace, and public restrooms. To the right of the restrooms, steps lead down to Evergreen Road. Go left on Evergreen, and then make a left on Third Street. Walk down third past the Oswego Sailing Club, and cross the Portland & Western Railroad tracks.

A No Trespassing sign warns you about heading farther west along the tracks, but you can take the gravel Headlee Walkway that allows for a picturesque stroll between the railroad and Lakewood Bay. You’ll reach the award-winning Sprout sculpture by Mike Suri and then the lower plaza with more modern sculptures and some steps leading down to the lake, here studded with artificial cattails. Don’t even touch the lake water – the entire body of water is owned by the private, nonprofit Lake Oswego Corporation!

Go right on State Street (Highway 43), and cross it at the traffic light and junction with Foothills Road. Head down Foothills Drive to the left, passing the decorative brick entrance to the Waterfront Apartments on your right. Foothills Drive bends to the right and reaches a junction with Oswego Pointe Drive. Just before the junction, find the paved Kincaid Curlicue leading north. Walk past a pair of black bollards and the basalt column displaying the trail name: The trail follows two old railroad spurs that connected the riverfront industrial area with the Portland & Western. It is named after Bob Kincaid, a former chief of staff for the City of Lake Oswego. There’s a power substation to the left, and some steps lead down to cut off the corner in the curlicue. Continue walking along between plantings of hellebore, sumac, and pampas grass, and make the switchback to join the second rail spur. You’re overlooking Lake Oswego’s small industrial area, once the home of an iron foundry and a lumber yard. Cross Foothills Drive and pass a wayside contemplation spot with a drinking fountain and a plaque honoring Bob Kincaid. The trail now swings towards the river and parallels Oswego Pointe Drive to reach Foothills Park.

Here the trail splits. Keep right on the William Stafford Pathway as it passes under the walkway to the covered viewing platform on the Willamette. A gangway leads down to a dock on the river. An interpretive sign tells about the iron pipe foundry that existed in this location until 1928. Continuing on, you’ll pass another junction and then a grouping of basalt columns, each carved with a line or several from William Stafford’s poetry. Continuing on, you’ll reach a walled turnaround that offers a view upriver to Tryon Cove and the Portland & Western Railroad Bridge. Across the Willamette, you’ll notice small Rivervilla Park in Oak Grove and the riverside properties of the affluent. Above the turnaround is Lake Oswego’s wastewater treatment plant. Metro has plans to connect the William Stafford Trail with the park at Tryon Cove although this will entail a steep descent down the bluff and a substantial footbridge over the mouth of Tryon Creek. The trail can then be connected, via a tunnel below Highway 43, to the paved bike path that leads into Tryon Creek State Park.

Return past the William Stafford Stones, and take the path leading across the park’s lawn. You can head out to the viewing platform and then back to the covered picnic area. There are also restrooms here. Pass the Foothills Park Trailhead, and reach the entrance to the park. Go left on the continuation of the trail that leads back towards the river. You’ll pass a couple of bouldering rocks before the trail bends to the right. A sign denotes the location of the crucible for the 1888 blast furnace. Walk under a gangway leading to a large dolphin in the river, and then pass the retaining wall for the Oregon Iron and Steel Company’s smelter. Keep left on the main trail, and reach more interpretive signs about the iron industry near Roehr Park’s public restrooms. Below you is a grassy amphitheater and stage on the river itself. You can walk out to a viewing dolphin, and then head under the elevated (but closed) gangway leading to the floating Charlie S. Brown Water Sports Center. The steps leading up from here are your return loop.

Continue along under tall cottonwoods. Now the path crosses private property, where signs enjoin you to stay on the paved path. Cross two footbridges, and get views of the rocky shoreline here and low, hazardous Oswego Rock in midriver. The path ends at a fenceline, so you need to turn back and find the steps leading up at the Water Sports Center. Go right at the top of the steps to follow the path around the offices for the Oswego Pointe Apartments. Reach a road, and go left out along Oswego Pointe Drive. Keep right at the first road junction and then left at the next. Continue straight up to the junction with Foothills Drive. Then walk out to State Street, where you can cross at the traffic light and return to Millennium Plaza Park.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Walk There! 50 Treks In and Around Portland and Vancouver edited by Laura O. Foster

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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.