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Three Walks Along Portland’s Orange Line MAX

Tillicum Bridge from the OHSU Observation Deck.
Mar 30, 2017

Three Walks Along Portland’s Orange Line MAX

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(Editor’s Note: This post is originally from November 16, 2015; the Orange Line isn’t exactly “new” anymore, but these walks are still lovely.)

Now that Portland has its new MAX line up and running, I thought I would check out some of the best places to go for a walk along the new Orange Line.

Portland Max Orange Line

The new Orange Line runs from downtown Portland to just past downtown Milwaukie.

The new Orange Line starts in downtown Portland (where it continues from a Yellow Line), then follows new tracks south of Portland State and down to the South Waterfront. It then crosses the new Tillicum Bridge, stops near OMSI, and eventually parallels SE McLoughlin Blvd. all the way to Milwaukie.

What we did on this walk was get off in South Waterfront and walk a few minutes to a new section of the Willamette Greenway Trail, then walk over Tillicum Bridge, then take the train again to Downtown Milwaukie, where we walked a bit before exploring the town’s renovated riverfront and then followed some of the Trolley Trail to the end of the line. Then we took the train back.

So here are a few highlights from available walks along the new Orange MAX Line.

First Up: South Waterfront

Tillicum Bridge from the OHSU Observation Deck.

Tillicum Bridge from the OHSU Observation Deck.

When you get off at South Waterfront, the stop just before Tillicum Crossing Bridge, the first thing that’s nice is to walk into the OHSU office building there and head for the public observation deck. It has a great view (left) of the Tillicum Bridge.

Next, walk along Moody Avenue to the OHSU building with the tram, passing by a new food cart pod and some restaurants and shops along the way. Circle around the left side of OHSU and head for the river. Here, you’ll encounter the newest section of the Willamette Greenway Trail, which runs (with only a couple of breaks) from downtown to the Sellwood Bridge.

The new area is a great addition, with landscaped walkways and platforms to admire the river, plus a long ramp that goes right down to the water’s edge:

New ramp down to the Willamette near OHSU Wellness Center.

New ramp down to the Willamette near OHSU Wellness Center.

There's a nice view of the Ross Island Bridge from the end of the ramp.

There’s a nice view of the Ross Island Bridge from the end of the ramp.

One thing we found funny was that up in the main area there’s a piece of art that looks like a tree washed up on the bank …

Art imitates nature ...

Art imitates nature …

and then the river dropped the real thing just below!

Nature imitates art.

Nature imitates art.

Next Stop: Walk Over the Tillicum Crossing Bridge

Nothing complicated here: Just head over the bridge! It’s the first one built over the Willamette since 1973, so for most of us, these scenes were never before available:

Ross Island and its namesake bridge, from Tillicum Crossing.

Ross Island and its namesake bridge, from Tillicum Crossing.

Up on the Tillicum Crossing Bridge, looking towards OMSI.

Up on the Tillicum Crossing Bridge, looking towards OMSI.

Over at the far end, in addition to OMSI and all that it offers, you can walk down and under the bridge, where you connect north to the Eastbank Esplanade and south towards the Springwater Corridor.

Looking back at Tillicum Crossing from the east bank.

Looking back at Tillicum Crossing from the east bank.

Artwork under the new bridge.

Artwork under the new bridge.

Cool perspectives under the bridge.

Cool perspectives under the bridge.

Lovely new bridge.

Lovely new bridge.

Then we just headed back up to the station and caught the next train to Milwaukie.

Walk #3: Downtown Milwaukie and the Riverfront

Milwaukie has spent a tons of money revamping its waterfront on the Willamette, and they did a great job. There’s a nice big park, walking paths, and this pleasant dock on the river:

portland-orange-line-walks-tillicum-bridge- - 13

You can even stop and chat with sailors if you want!

Community fire pit (permit required!)

Community fire pit (permit required!)

Dam and fish ladder on Kellogg Creek. Johnson Creek also flows into the Willamette at this park.

Dam and fish ladder on Kellogg Creek. Johnson Creek also flows into the Willamette at this park.

Looking downriver towards Elk Rock Island.

Looking downriver towards Elk Rock Island.

From the waterfront, just walk south along the river, past some nice viewpoints back towards Portland and Council Crest:

Looking upstream from Milwaukie at Council Crest.

Looking upstream from Milwaukie at Council Crest.

Eventually you enter a neighborhood along the river south of the park, with some lovely houses. At the end of the street, you come to a park from which you can access Elk Rock Island, a fairly little-known island in the Willamette which you can walk out to at low water times. When we visited there was construction going on, but I have been there before and wrote a blog post all about it.

From that park, just head east to River Road and down it to the walkway along the MAX line. Turn right on that and enjoy some fun artwork and other things on the way to the Park Avenue station, which is the end of the line.

That paved section of walkway is also part of the six-mile Trolley Trail clear down to Gladstone.

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Paul Gerald

I am the author of several books on hiking, camping, eating breakfast and chilling out. I am also a freelance travel writer, publisher, hiker, and inveterate traveler.

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