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City teams up with ODOT to pave new section of Columbia Slough Trail – UPDATED

New path on the Columbia Slough at Vancouver Ave entrance.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Please note: As of 10/28, the City of Portland has notified us that the path won’t be opened to the public until November 8th. We regret any confusion.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau have teamed up on a major new biking and walking path along the Columbia Slough in north Portland. The path — which has just been paved between N Denver and Vancouver avenues — is known as the Columbia Slough Trail.

The new path is about 10-feet wide with gravel shoulders and it hugs the Columbia Slough for about 1.2 miles. It offers access to lots of wildlife (tons of birds) and views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood. From the path you can also see the Portland Meadows racetrack and watch big tractors and trucks at work on several industrial sites (I mention this for those of you with little ones). In addition to entry points at Vancouver and Denver avenues, there’s also a spur out to N Schmeer at Whitaker Road. This creates a much-needed connection for north Portland residents who frequent the Hayden Meadows shopping area (which includes a big hardware store among other things).

I rolled out there today and took a bunch of photos…

At the Vancouver Ave entrance there’s a nice flat grassy spot for picnics and relaxing.
Right on the water.
Portland Meadows racetrack in the background.

Mt. St. Helens.
Riding west toward I-5 and the Schmeer/Whitaker Road entry.
I-5 is just above and Schmeer Road is to the right.
Looking north at the Schmeer Road entrance. The road in the upper right is Whitaker, which takes you to the Hayden Meadows shopping center and other destinations.
Under I-5!
Here’s how it comes into the Denver/Schmeer/MAX Yellow Line intersection.
Now looking east while standing on Denver Ave. That’s Schmeer Road in the foreground, which will eventually be closed to auto use by ODOT and connect this path with others.
Lots of heron and geese and ducks and other birds.
Mt. Hood.
Mt. Adams.

The project cost an estimated $610,000 and about $460,000 was paid for by ODOT as part of the Community Enhancement Fund from their I-5/Delta Park freeway widening project that began in 2002. (Another project ODOT paid for through that same fund was the road diet and bike lanes on N Rosa Parks Way that was completed in 2011.)

This new pathway is excellent news for north Portlanders! Using a combination of PBOT’s existing neighborhood greenways, the Columbia Blvd Path, the Peninsula Crossing Trail, and an already-paved (but pretty bumpy) portion of the Columbia Slough Trail just west of this new portion, riders can create a very nice, family-friendly loop that’s almost entirely on dedicated paths (I’ll share the loop details in a separate post).

And there’s more good news. This new path will connect beautifully to the upcoming changes ODOT has in store with their Denver Avenue project we told you about last week. That project will create a seamless, bike/walk only connection between the existing portions of the Columbia Slough Trail adjacent to PIR (west of Denver) and this new path by closing a section of Schmeer Road to auto use.

All of this adds up to some major improvements for biking along the slough and in north Portland in general. As the paths get more and more attention, the Columbia Slough path is becoming the north Portland version of the Springwater Corridor!

To learn more about what’s in store for this area and share your thoughts and feedback with ODOT, attend their open house tonight (10/22) in Kenton. More details here.

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