Here is something from my book, Peaceful Places: Portland — which you can get a signed copy of at the link.
Elk Rock Island
It can be easy, when living in Portland, to forget that the Willamette is a river.
I know that sounds odd, because what else would it be, but how often do you look at that body of water downtown and think about currents, and drainages, and riverbanks, and islands? It just seems kind of like some water to get across on the way to work, right?
Well, it’s a river, and if you want to get just a little glimpse of it in that form, head out to Elk Rock Island. First you have to find tiny Spring Park in Milwaukie. It’s a nice enough place, but follow the trail into the woods. Yes, you’re headed for the riverbank. And when you get there, if the water is low enough, you can walk right out there to the island-m-across a land bridge that is thought to be 40 million years old.
See, we’re not just “in town” anymore, are we?
This little island had many owners before 1910 (one of them even built a dance hall on it) before its last private owner, a Scottish grain exporter named Peter Kerr donated it to the city with one stipulation: “Preserve it as a pretty place for all to enjoy.” Mission accomplished.
Here, within sight of homes and docks and industry, is a patch of woodlands, a small beach, a rocky bench, a cliff face, and a hidden laggon. Here are hiking trails and picnic spots, some peace and quiet, and — in winter, anyway — a waterfall across the way!
And here, rolling along as it always has, is a river, with a gentle current and birds bobbing and swooping, and, yes, an island in the middle of it.
Elk Rock Island: Essentials
When: Sunrise to sunset, but generally not accessible due to high water in winter and spring
Web: Official site