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West Linn Willamette Greenway Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

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View to Goat Island from Maddax Woods (bobcat)
Gazebo at the McLean House, West Linn (bobcat)
Christmas light show, Dorothy's Garden, Maddax Woods (bobcat)
Bolton Creek Bridge, Maddax Woods (bobcat)
Raccoon tracks on the beach, Burnside Park (bobcat)
The lollipop loop along the Willamette in West Linn; trails in red, street walking in orange (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Territorial Drive TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Edgewater Court Trailhead
  • Hike Type: In and out with loop
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • High point: 165 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Description

A couple of noncontiguous stretches of the Willamette River Greenway in West Linn offer quiet respite from the busy streets above, and the whole walk takes you to five West Linn parks. You are always within sight of the river as you walk under the Oregon City Bridge and then the I-205 bridge. You'll pass the historic McLean House and then amble along River Drive before entering the lush mixed forest in Maddax Woods and Burnside Park. A loop option takes you through the historic Bolton Neighborhood of West Linn before descending to Maddax Woods. If you begin this loop at the Maddax Woods Trailhead, you'll get a shorter version of the outing at about 2.1 miles.

An optional, short backtrack from the parking pullout on Territorial Drive takes you 50 yards up the narrow road to a trail that leads down rough stairs and a fixed step ladder to a public fishing dock. However, there's no really good view of Willamette Falls, which is blocked by the buildings of the West Linn Paper Company.

Follow Territorial Drive under the 1922 Oregon City Bridge, designed by renowned architect Conde McCullough. The street passes a power pylon, several blufftop dwellings, and a staircase that leads up to Willamette Drive. At the last house, you'll see a sign for the Willamette River Greenway where it leads into undeveloped West Bridge Park. Rustling maples and cottonwoods shade the track before you pass under I-205 and its entrance/exit ramps. The trail ends at the McLean House, a historic city-owned home that is rented out for special events. However, casual visitors are welcome to explore the surrounding garden, with its gazebo, rose garden, and giant sequoia. The house was built in 1927 by Dr. Edward McLean, who practiced all over Clackamas County as a country physician.

From the McLean House, you'll be following River Drive for 0.6 miles. This area of large riverfront homes that own their own shoreline was known historically as Lonesome Bottom. The street crosses a couple of creeks and, past Burns Street, becomes a cul-de-sac where you'll reach the Maddax Woods Trailhead. The seven acres of Maddax Woods was donated to the City of West Linn by Dorothy and Virgil Maddax, who lived in the house above the entrance for almost 50 years. On your right, you'll see Dorothy's Garden and on the left, Dorothy's Library Trail rises to Hood Street. Below the garden is the foundation of the boat barn where Virgil Maddax, a commercial fisherman, constructed fishing boats and then sent them on a railed slipway down to the river. A large, informative display describes Virgil's activities. Past the display, a paved path leads to a picnic table and viewpoint down the river to Goat Island. You can also reach the river shore via the slipway. Dorothy Maddax, known as the "Goose Lady" because she dished out handfuls of grain to her feathered visitors, was a past president of the West Linn Garden Club. Most years, from mid-November to New Year's Day, the circular path from the Maddax Woods Trailhead to the river viewpoint is festively lit and decorated with cut outs of forest creatures. The Maddax Woods Trail has lighting along it as far as the Bolton Creek Bridge.

From the Maddax Woods Trailhead, follow the wide gravel path behind the bollards to undulate long in Douglas-fir/big-leaf maple woods. The trail levels to cross Bolton Creek on a high wide bridge over its ravine. A steep, ivy-choked trail leads up above the ravine to Buck Street. Keeping to the Willamette River Greenway, you'll enter Burnside Park and walk above a cottonwood bottomland. A trail leads left up to Holmes Street and, 25 yards later, you should turn right to follow a path down to the river. Once at the the sandy beach, bear right, keeping your eyes open for raccoon, deer, and great blue heron tracks. Goat Island, with its tall cottonwood forest is just upstream. When you reach Bolton Creek, which spills into the river at a jumble of large rocks, turn back and head up to the greenway.

Make a right to finish the last part of the trail, which runs along a fence line to reach Edgewater Court. Then return past the beach trail, and bear right on the trail that leads up through ivy-draped trees to Holmes Street. Follow Holmes to cross Buck Street and then pass around Bolton School. Past the school buildings, turn left and enter Hammerle Park, walking across the lawn to the left of the tennis courts and passing the restrooms. Cross Lewis Street to Robert Moore Street, which you'll follow for a block. After bearing right on Bolton Street, turn left to follow a paved path below the parking area of a small shopping center. This will take you to the West Linn Public Library, where you should stay left to circle around the building, passing colorful ceramic totems and painted statues. When you reach Hood Street, turn left to descend to the signed Dorothy's Library Trail.

The Library Trail descends wooden staircase and crosses two footbridges before winding down under the maples and Douglas-firs to reach the Maddax Woods Trailhead. Here, turn right to follow River Drive back to the Territorial Drive Trailhead.


Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Dogs on leash
  • Port-a-potty, picnic tables at Maddax Woods; restrooms and picnic area at Hammerle Park

Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

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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.

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