The Journey Begins At Oaks Bottom Hike #8

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is hike #8 in 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington

New Year’s Day. The plan is I will be up and out on the trail by 8 a.m. The reality? I bleary-eyed me clambered out of bed about 10:30 am and finally made it out of the house about 12:30 pm. Luckily, the destination was only about 8 miles from my house.

I chose Oaks Bottom for my inaugural hike because it is close, easy, and I’ve been there a million and a half times. As I leaf through the book trying to decide which hike to do when, I find myself struggling to decide which ones I will do in winter. I want to see every hike in it’s most spectacular verdant glory, but that’s not going to happen. No way can I do all these hikes at that perfect time. So, for the time being, while the Oregon weather is being, well, Oregon-y, I am going to concentrate on the hikes I have done before.

So, my first day out, I decided to prove what professional blogger I can be by forgetting both my phone and my camera. And the book. Luckily, I have done this hike enough in the past that I didn’t need the book. Normally, I will be using only my own photography on the blog, but today I will be using some Flickr photos under Creative Commons licensing.

Now, to the hiking!

Secretary Jewell and the Northwest Youth Corps

As listed in the book, Oaks Bottom is a 2.8 mile loop hike around flood alongside the Willamette River. In the middle of the Sellwood neighborhood, the Refuge is shielded from the busy neighborhood by a 100-foot cliff. A popular birding spot in all seasons, don’t expect any alone time on this urban hike. However, if you’re nervous about hiking alone, Oaks Bottom is a great, safe spot for the lone hiker. On New Year’s day, I was hiking amid gaggles of children and dogs. While the book doesn’t list this as a crowded hike, it is. As you pull into the parking lot on Milwaukie Avenue, don’t be shocked to find it full. Don’t worry though, there is plenty of street parking across the street.

From the trailhead you immediately descend 100-ft on a well-graded paved path. After that, there is really no elevation gain or change of significance until you return up to the parking lot. So, if like me, you are significantly overweight and out of shape, this is a great hike. Very easy on the knees. Sullivan listed this hike as “Easy” and I agree. I finished the 2.8 mile loop in 57 minutes.

This photo is quite a contrast to the one where the sun looks like the moon

The best thing about this hike is the birds. Years ago, this was the first place I saw a Blue Heron. Even in winter with tons of stick wielding children charging about the birds are still there. Take your binoculars. On this trip a saw a several pairs of Buffleheads, a mated pair of Trumpeter Swans, and tons of mallards and Canadian geese. While at the bird deck, I heard reports of Kingfishers. However, when I got to the appointed spot all I discovered was a young boy standing atop a rock and holding a mossy stick. Upon sighting me the boy shouted, “Hold your ground, men!” Then held his stick in a defensive position. I did not try to take his rock.


Once you come out of the woods and cross a small meadow on the edge of the lake, you’ll find yourself on the Springwater Corridor. While this paved bike path is not as pretty as the path through the refuge, there are still great birding spots and a beautiful views of the Willamette River and the murals on the Portland Memorial Funeral Home.

Now I only have 99 hikes to go. Hopefully, my next report will have some better photos.

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