Portland Parks eyes closures as river levels rise

Willamette River Greenway path south of downtown Portland.
(Photo by pdxwheeler)

If your bicycling plans involve any paths, bikeways, or roads around the Willamette River, be on the lookout for water.

National Weather Service flood level chart for Willamette River in Portland.

A BikePortland reader sent in the photo above of the Willamette Greenway Trail south of the South Waterfront area this morning. “The trail has been getting progressively worse this week,” he said. “It’s starting to get fairly bad in a couple sections. In one of the pictures you can see a gentleman avoiding the water up on the rocks.”

Asked about the situation, a Portland Parks & Recreation spokesperson told us staff plan to visit the location today. Signs will be posted to warn users of flooded sections.

Earlier this week we heard from PP&R that they were considering a closure of the floating ramps section of the Eastbank Esplanade. The last time high water led to a closure of the Esplanade was 2011. Back then, we reached just over 17 feet as per official gauges.


On Wednesday of this week the Willamette was at 13.2 feet. PP&R says they seriously consider closing the ramps at 13.5 feet (give or take a few inches). As of right now the National Weather Service shows the river at 15.7 feet. Since the water level is predicted to decrease substantially over the coming days, PPB says they don’t plan to take any action at this time.

According to the Willamette Week, water from other parts of the state are affecting Portland area rivers. The Corvallis area has seen major flooding and a state of emergency has been declared in 10 counties so far.

Whatever your weekend riding plans are, be aware that flooding could impact your route. If you are venture onto unpaved roads, be advised that mud could seriously alter your ability to roll.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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catherine feta-cheese
catherine feta-cheese
5 years ago

In 2017 the Esplanade floating dock was closed from March 25 for several days — I detoured over to 2nd or 3rd for the commute to Northeast that time. The water is currently very high in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, the pond is up at the river intake level and path flooded in some sections.

5 years ago

I think PP&R is usually used to refer to parks bureau as opposed to PPB for police

5 years ago

The area in the photo was well above water today. Some of the path slightly north of that is underwater, but it’s at a location where there’s a parallel upper path that’s well above the water. I think those are the lowest areas between downtown and the Sellwood Bridge, so there shouldn’t be any problem using the trail now.