Sauvie Island is well known for its farms, pumpkin patch and beautiful riverside beaches (including optional Collins Beach), but the Portland area destination is also home to several great hiking trails. Trek.
With trails that lead along the river, around small lakes, into the forest and through open grasslands, there is a surprising diversity in the hiking areas of Sauvie Island.
People have known the beauty of Sauvie Island for countless generations. Prior to the arrival of white settlers in the Pacific Northwest, the island was home to one of the largest concentrations of Chinookan villages on the lower Columbia River. Rich in food sources like wapato, camas, and waterfowl, the island was a natural place for many Chinookan families to establish seasonal homes.
Today, the island is used primarily as a sprawling farming community and recreation area for Portlanders, whose cars fill the island’s narrow roads on summer days. The hiking trails not only offer a different way to experience the island, but an opportunity to connect more deeply with the natural environment – just as people have done for thousands of years.
Here are four places to hike on Sauvie Island, to experience it for yourself.
WAPATO GREENWAY ACCESS
Distance: 2.2 miles
Approvals: Restrooms, picnic tables at Hadley’s Landing
Located on the southwest side of Sauvie Island, the Wapato Access Greenway is a two-mile loop trail around Lake Virginia that passes beautiful wetlands, towering oak trees, and tons of wildlife. The easy trail only has about 40 feet of elevation gain and has several places to stop, including the docks at Hadley’s Landing.
Although part of the trail runs along the Multnomah Canal, these views can be limited. The Wapato Access Greenway is more of a wildlife viewing trail, especially in the open grasslands where you’ll find all kinds of wildflowers, plants, and animals.
The Wapato Access Greenway trailhead is on Northwest Sauvie Island Road, approximately 2.5 miles from the Sauvie Island Bridge. Parking permit required.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Approvals: rest room
Although only 2.5 miles long, the Oak Island Trail is packed with sights, sounds and smells to delight the senses. There are great views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams. Cranes and herons populate the shores of the lake, while smaller birds and creatures fill the forest inside the loop trail. Wildflowers bloom in spring and blackberries arrive in late summer. An active cattle farm on the grounds also means you might encounter cows (and what they leave behind), so watch your step.
However, Oak Island is not an island at all: since it is surrounded by water on three sides, it is technically a peninsula. This surrounding water is called Sturgeon Lake, which is home to a protected wildlife area. Oak Island also features a “Biomimicry Trail” designed by local students, which allows visitors to use their smartphones to learn about local wildlife by scanning QR codes posted along the trail.
To reach the Oak Island trailhead, follow Northwest Sauvie Island Road for two miles from the bridge at Sauvie Island, then turn right onto Northwest Reeder Road. After 2 km turn left onto Northwest Oak Island Road. In 4.2 miles the road will end at a gate, where you will find the trailhead. Parking permit required.
Distance: 7 miles
With miles of forest trails, river views, a beach, and a small lighthouse, the Warrior Point hike might be the best on Sauvie Island. Located on the northern end of the island – just past the optional Collins Beach – Warrior Point may be a bit long for some hikers, but with only 10 feet of elevation gain, it’s at least an easy walk (unless you you only enter in the rainy season, when the trail is muddy).
The trail officially ends at the Warrior Rock Lighthouse, which has the honor of being Oregon’s smallest lighthouse, but people are not allowed inside. Those who want to walk a little further can continue north along the beach to Warrior Point itself, although the path can be blocked by brush and high water depending on the season.
To reach the Warrior Point trailhead, take Northwest Gillihan Road 6.1 miles from the Sauvie Island Bridge. Turn right on Northwest Reeder Road and proceed 8.5 miles. The road ends at the trailhead parking lot. Parking permit required.
Distance: 3 miles
A visit to Portland’s best beach can also turn into a short day hike, with plenty of room to explore. Willow Bar Beach extends approximately 1.5 miles north of the parking lot access point, ending at an open point on the Columbia River. (It also extends about 1.6 miles south to Reeder Point, for those who want to walk longer.) The beach hike offers great views of the river as well as several Cascade peaks, including the Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood, Mount Adams and a ribbon. of Mount Rainier.
To reach the Willow Beach parking lot, take Northwest Gillihan Road 6 miles from the Sauvie Island Bridge. Turn right onto Northwest Reeder Road and continue for 4 km, then turn right at a parking lot on the side of the road. Follow gravel road 0.3 mile to main parking lot. Parking permit required.
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