By Alexander Gilbert
Urban is a lot of things. An eclectic environ that primarily overlooks hiking. That’s probably because we hikers are stealthy. Prowling by with our packed PB&Js, and compass before the locals even know what sort of manbeast passed by. Which is likely for our benefit since some of those denizens are rough as hell, and manbeast is only a temporary facade—for a trail persona. When the Gipper, on the other hand, is always the Gipper, and nothing less.
This urban: a lovely mess of ourselves. Where you can learn all the different paths a life may take. The wide array of personality and fate colliding to form the structures of a city. Certainly a complicated ecosystem that baffles and erodes, yet—attracts and grows. Let’s hike through it!
The Willamette River loop is Portland’s community rink. Tracing the river along Sellwood to Macadam, South Waterfront—Waterfront, across Steel Bridge, Esplanade—out Springwater Trail to boot. Better yet a map by MapMyRun.
A rollicking circle dance with jiving cyclists, runners, sightseers, hikers and plenty of onlookers. The music and rhythm is provided by the city. Clank, clank, splash—yaah. A sense of community and togetherness in modern solitude; or simply a tried and true pastime of spending time outside with other people of your city. Find any place to edge in and be on your way.
Encounter the zonkey South Waterfront where the orderly—disinfected OHSU hospital aura presides over the whole district. A glimpse into upcoming pristine efficiency that is a reverse from beards and beer but scrubs and toil. Rather the Greenway there is a tuft of chic once known as a park.
Meanwhile Waterfront Park is the old world that has well defined itself urban. A galore of a public stomping ground among the river, and downtown. Sheer uniqueness in every step—glance, sound, feeling, and why not—touch, for the adventurous. (Oregon Sports News is hereby not responsible for any contagion caused by Waterfront obscure object handling.) Speaking of strange, causing reactions, the “weird” epicenter is smack dab in the Waterfront. Where every tribe in the Portland Metro area comes to show off their colors for a righteous, craziest section of a hike, you ever done did.
Depending on your outlook you may be hurtling on over to the Steel Bridge, or mesmerized by the apocalyptic house boat floating off of the flood wall. What a life! Typically it’s a small critter living in the woods but that guy, whoever he may be, really raised the bar in observable wildlife when hiking.
Over to the east bank to simmer down to see the cities skyline view instead of being apart of it. Our bunch of skyscrapers sure are adorable, there’s—Big Pinky and-and Wells Fargo Center, oh, and the KOIN center. Alright! so we don’t have that many skyscrapers. Were about to walk on a 1,200 ft floating walkway anyways. Plus a 120 ft public dock out on the river that people swim from.
A lovely stretch the east bank esplanade—that leads to the Springwater Trail for our next section. Where you increasingly mellow out into nature and process that sensory jambalaya you just consumed.
A local is the spoiled child that doesn’t care about his toy submarine. Did you see that veteran USS Blueback fast-attack submarine back there? That’s kinda astonishing. However, the beaver didn’t give a damn either when he swam by so whatever; war sucks.
Further into the Springwater Trail is a Willamette River floodplain that opens up natural space for an additional offshoot trail for inquiry. Followed by the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and a mural. A 40,000 square ft; largest hand painted mural in the country—type mural. A phenomenal spectacle with Oaks Bottom’s natural furnishings coinciding with the massive native bird specie depictions in the clearing behind the pond.
Finish the loop trekking through Sellwood and bridge to pursue Macadam. Put in at Black Cottonwood Bay for a final rest, and allow the memories to be stashed away. Along with any paraphernalia you might have haphazardly acquired because that was one eccentrically amazing—urban hike.