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Wapato Greenway Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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Looking over Virginia Lake in the winter (bobcat)
Red elderberry, Wapato Greenway (bobcat)
At the dock, Hadley's Landing, Wapato Access Greenway (bobcat)
Moth mullein (Verbascum blattaria), Wapato Greenway (bobcat)
The Wapato Greenway Loop (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Wapato Access TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Virginia Lake North Pond
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 40 feet
  • High Point: 45 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: Yes


Hike Description

This loop trail, a great family stroll, leads around a seasonal lake along the Multnomah Channel and under tall cottonwoods. The area is part of the Wapato Access Greenway State Park, which absolves you of the need for a Sauvie Island Wildlife Area parking permit. Waterfowl congregate on the lake and you will almost certainly see signs of beaver activity. Bring binoculars!

Hike past a gate and up a maintenance road past the entrance sign. To the right are dense woods with big-leaf maples and Douglas-firs as well as hazel and lots of Armenian blackberry. Little posts around the loop identify bird species that can be seen in the area. To the left is a meadow blooming with cow vetch in the spring. A trail departs across this meadow to hook up with the loop around the lake, but taking this path will make you miss the viewing platform at the lake. Keeping right, reach a picnic shelter and keep left here under ash and cottonwood trees. A spur trail leads right to a viewing platform over Virginia Lake, which exhibits itself as a grassy expanse with a pond in the middle from mid-spring through fall. Look for the arrow-shaped leaves of wapato, or broad-leaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), which blooms here in late summer. The roots of this plant were a staple of Native Americans who lived in the Columbia and Willamette River floodplains (In Europe, a similar species to this is called katniss, she of Hunger Games notoriety). From mid-fall into spring, the much-expanded lake is a haven for foraging waterfowl, including Canada geese, buffleheads, wigeons, ring-necked ducks, shovelers, mallards, gadwalls, pintails, and pied-bill grebes.

Continuing on the main trail, hike down a vehicle track with thickets of willow, hawthorn, blackberry and hazel on both sides. A spur right leads to a blind from which you can see little as it is shielded by young cottonwoods. Pass a view of the pond and head back into cottonwood/ash woods. A spur left leads to Hadley's Landing, where there are a fishing dock, picnic tables and a horseshoe playing area. Across the channel on the Burlington side, you can see the sternwheeler Jean, which plied the Willamette from the mid-1930s to the mid-50s. The Jean languished as a potential attraction in Lewiston, Idaho, for a while and was then sold and then resold. The current plan is to chop it down to serve as a barge although the vessel still carries its upper stories.

The trail now heads along the Multnomah Channel, which is screened from view most of the time by a line of cottonwoods. Snowberry thickets grow strong here, too. Short spurs lead to the high river bank. Soon, pass a cottonwood/ willow wetland on the right. The trail turns in, passing a clump of cherries. Take in a view of the North Pond wetland on the right and cross a footbridge. Reed canary-grass seems to dominate here, along with bluejoint grass. Ascend under ash trees to a road bed and an open field of cow vetch. Note a line of oaks to the right. The meadow is dotted with large sentinels of oak, Douglas-fir and grand fir. Get another view of the lake over the blackberry thickets which fringe the track. Pass a fenced cow pasture and head into a wonderful oak copse followed by dense oak/maple/ash woods. Skirt an inlet of the pond and reach an open area with a huge oak. Soon, arrive at the picnic shelter in its flowery meadow, and go left to head back to parking.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Map depicted at trailhead
  • Picnic area and boat dock


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Hiking from Portland to the Coast by James D. Thayer
  • Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine by Michael C. Houck and M.J. Cody (editors)
  • Take a Walk: Portland by Brian Barker
  • Best Hikes with Children: Western & Central Oregon by Bonnie Henderson
  • Nature Walks In and Around Portland by Karen & Terry Whitehill
  • Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge by Craig Romano
  • Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver by Douglas Lorain
  • Best Hikes With Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson & Zach Urness

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.