The Peninsula Crossing Trail — a one-mile carfree path between the Willamette River and the Columbia Slough in St. Johns — has gotten a very bad rap over the years. But I’m happy to say the trail is currently in very good shape and if you’re one of the many people who’ve written it off, it’s time to give it another chance.
As Portland’s homelessness problem spiked in recent years, a bike path surrounded by open space and large trees with a railroad cut on one side became a very popular place to camp. But as personal belongings and refuse piled up, and cars became a common sight, many people stopped riding on it. It’s a phenomenon that has played out across Portland. And it’s so unfortunate, because we desperately need safe, carfree spaces in the city where people can ride bikes, walk, run, and get from A-to-B.
Back in 2020, the Peninsula Crossing Trail landed squarely on local political radars when a group of neighbors came together and sent the mayor and commissioners a join statement about the need for the path to be safe and clear. The City of Portland responded several months later with a coordinated effort to address campsites, clean up trash, and help people move to other places. But it didn’t last.
It was only when the City announced a Safe Rest Village would be built along the trail that they got serious about concerns. The Portland Parks Bureau installed anti-car gates at all trail entrances last summer, and early this spring we got word that they would clear the entire trail of trash and campers.
Now that the village is open for business, I wanted to see what the rest of the path looked like. After riding over there Thursday, I’m happy to say it’s almost unrecognizable. I didn’t see one tent in the grass. There was very little trash, and there were no cars to be seen.
Compare the images above to a few stills from my ride through the same trail two years ago:
The Safe Rest Village looks great. It has 60 sleeping units and I saw several residents come-and-go by bike. It really is a bike-oriented development that underscores the value of the path being so close. If you live at the village, you can enjoy a carfree bikeway (if you use a sidewalk for a few blocks) all the way to many markets and other destinations.
And right next door is a huge enclosure for the Belmont Goats, which just adds to the calm and pastoral vibes.
Check out my video and photos, then go and give this route another chance.