Leisurely trails among forest and wetlands, in a wildlife refuge tucked within the city.


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Oaks Bottom is a wildlife refuge near downtown Portland, along the banks of the Willamette River.

It offers a handful of peaceful trails among leafy forests and beside vibrant wetlands.

The refuge is especially loved among birdwatchers, but the trails are great for anyone simply seeking a dose of nature in the city.

Access is from the south end of the refuge at Sellwood Park, or the north end on Milwaukie Ave.

Parking is limited in both locations, so if driving you may have to park on the street in the neighborhoods nearby. The main pathway through the refuge is Bluff Trail, which is a generally wide gravel and dirt path with only slight ups and downs.

It also has a few boardwalk sections and one set of stairs.

The track mapped here is an out and back on Bluff Trail from Sellwood Park.

Along the way, you’ll find an observation deck over the wetland, small creeks and ponds within the forest, and a striking variety of flora and fauna right here in the city.

In addition to all the birdlife, you may see amphibians, beavers, nutria (an introduced aquatic rodent), or deer. Depending on where you enter the refuge and how far you want to hike, you could vary this route with any of the numerous side trails in the woods and along the riverbank.

There’s also the Springwater Corridor, a paved bike path along the west edge of the refuge.

This can be used to make a loop, but doesn’t offer the same natural setting as footpaths inside the refuge.

To stay among the shade of native trees and serenade of songbirds, simply return the way you came on Bluff Trail. Sources: https://www.portland.gov/parks/oaks-bottom-wildlife-refuge https://www.accesstrails.org/overview/oaks-bottom/ https://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Oaks_Bottom_Loop_Hike