Photo tours by topic

Overview for Option 1, only

Location and Arrival

Trail characteristics

Signage and Wayfinding

Operations and Maintenance

Trail facts at a glance

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Amenities and Features


Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge extends for nearly two miles north from the historic Oaks Pioneer Church at SE Spokane St and Grand Ave. In startling contrast to the highway of speeding cyclists that crowd the Springwater Corridor on weekends, the Bluff Trail to the east offers an opportunity for tranquility and a sense of “wild.” Recently-placed wood rail fences and a series of boardwalks give this trail a sense of New England charm and at the same time smoothing out the roller coaster ride of tree roots and ruts that marked the previous Bluff Trail.

For a shorter hike of just under a mile, the prime destination is the large viewing deck overlooking the marsh. For those wishing to extend their hike, continue nearly another mile to a series of stone Steps that offer a large area to rest and turn around. If the steps are not an obstacle, there are other opportunities, although the Bluff Trail ends just north of the steps, as does the character of the trail as it joins a steep paved bike path.

There are no amenities along the Bluff Trailno benches, no restrooms and no drinking water, ironically, all contributing to the sense of “wild.” Bicycles are prohibited, dogs need to be on leash, all contributing to the tranquility.

A series of recently placed bridges and boardwalks provide 48” clear width and edge protection. The trail up to the viewing deck is 48” or wider with lots of brief ups and downs, some rather steep. As the trail continues north from the viewing deck it has some narrower sections [about 36” although encroaching grasses make it seem even narrower], although the new bridges and boardwalks are 48” wide.

The connecting service roadcalled the YEH Trailin Option 2, is a good fallback to getting onto the Bluff Trail. But recently-placed crushed rock is in the 3/4” range [perhaps inspired by the railroad bed adjacent to the trail?] and has not been compacted. Therefore, some users may find some sections of this trail difficult, even though, after a steep section behind the church, most of the trail has a gentle slope as it follows the grade of the train tracks.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Portland Parks & Recreation

Name: Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Parks agency: Portland Parks & Recreation

Contact: (503) 823-2223 Laura Guderyahn (503) 823-6736

Location: See map on Overview page for three options of arriving to the Bluff Trail

Hours: 5 am to midnight

Public transit: Bus lines 70 and 19 to Option 1 and Option 2 entrances

Length: Option 1: 8/10 mile r/t to lookout; 2.6 miles r/t to stone Steps

How difficult do we consider it: moderate, with occasional short, steep sections

Date of last visit: August 28, 2021


YEH trail from Oaks Pioneer Church: .4 mile

Connector to north parking lot: .4 mile


Bluff Trail: 1.3 miles from parking to steps

Springwater Corridor Trail