Urban Hiking: The Columbia Slough
This city boy is still getting used to being far away from dramatic trails to which I had relatively easy access when I lived at the foot of Mount Hood. Yet it is fun to find slivers of nature in the middle of our metro area of two million people. With those thoughts in mind and a tiny bit of blue sky overhead, I set out this afternoon with my dog in search of a good walk. Unfortunately, I left the good camera at home, so phone photos will have to suffice.
I’d heard of a trail along the Columbia Slough, but I could not find a great map of the area. Being equal parts intrepid, impatient, and foolish, I drove north with Jackie Chan in hopes of finding an access point.
After watching a homeless man lose some of his belongings in the middle of Denver Avenue and dart back into speeding traffic to get them, I found an entrance to the path just south of Portland International Raceway. Chain link fence on one side and muddy slough on the other, I proceeded down a path that must have been an old service road.
The path is perched atop a dike for a mile or so as it followed the subtle undulations of the waterway. It was interesting to see the back side of P.I.R. (as locals call the racetrack), but there were no races today, of course, just lots of open blacktop.
Few walkers, joggers, or cyclists were out, so I unleashed Jackie. At one point, I saw a young couple with a few of their own dogs, and they had a good game wherein they tossed a ball down the slope toward a fence about fifty feet away. They had easy tosses downhill, while the dogs got some real exercise coming back up the hill. Maybe next time, Jackie.
Along the far shore of the slough, in murky shadows, I spotted at least three herons. One demonstrated its fishing technique. The industrial businesses of Columbia Boulevard were never far away, but in a way, such juxtaposition made occasional patches of blue sky, yellow trailside grasses, and multihued and scattered clouds even more spectacular.
After passing beneath a mini railroad trestle, I soon found a junction where I took a pedestrian bridge back across the slough. The other fork apparently headed toward Kelly Point Park.
Across the water, I found a well-treed park braided with paved paths, and soon I was walking along Columbia Boulevard. A wide sidewalk took me all the way back toward my car. While few side streets reached all the way to Columbia, there were a number of semi-official paths that met the sidewalk, along with a couple open grassy areas where Jackie sniffed a little more intently.
It was not exactly wilderness, but the walk was very pleasant. It is a nice area to walk on a Saturday if you don’t mind a little graffiti mixed in with your waterfowl sightings. And hey, it’s Jackie approved.
Posted on January 27, 2013, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Hiking with dogs, Outdoors, Urban Hiking, Waterways and tagged Columbia Slough, Hikes near Portland, Northwest Oregon hikes. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.