Portland and the Columbia River Gorge are filled with hiking opportunities, many of which have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible portions. But just because a hike isn’t marked ADA accessible doesn’t mean someone with a disability isn’t capable of using it — everybody has different levels of strength, stamina and terrain-appropriate gear. To address this, Metro (a regional governmental agency) funded the Access Trails project, which expands on local trail information and helps people with disabilities choose their own adventures. Here are a few to try.
Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area’s Interlakes Trail
Terrain: Pavement with small sections of concrete upended by tree roots.
One of America’s largest urban wetlands, Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area offers nearly 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of wild habitat to explore. For a leisurely, shaded tour through the forest, take the Interlakes Trail located near the main entrance off North Marine Drive. At the trail’s end, an elevated-yet-accessible platform provides a window through the dense trees, revealing the expansive marshland landscape.
Hoyt Arboretum’s Overlook Trail
Accessible directly from the Hoyt Arboretum visitor center parking lot, this paved, mile-long (1.6 km) trail slopes and bends through open fields that give way to stunning views of the arboretum’s natural bounty and Portland’s West Hills. With nearly 2,000 plant species, the arboretum offers something new every season, including incredible fall foliage.
Powell Butte Nature Park’s Mountain View Trail
Terrain: Mixed pavement with areas of compact soil, loose gravel and occasional steep grades
An extinct-volcano-turned-recreation-area, Powell Butte Nature Park has over 611 acres (247 hectares) and boasts 10 miles (16 km) of mixed-use trails. Take the Mountain View trail that starts at the interpretive center for rewarding views of Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens.
Milwaukie’s Spring Park
Terrain: Pavement, compact soil and gravel
This quiet oasis along the Willamette River is tucked away in a residential Milwaukie neighborhood and features rare, protected wetlands. The recently renovated trail at Spring Park carefully treads through the delicate habitat and offers an accessible overlook into the protected area.
Bridal Veil Falls State Park’s Overlook Trail
If scenic mountain overlooks pique your interest, then this Bridal Veil Falls trail will not disappoint. Circling the top of the bluff, the Overlook Trail offers multiple breathtaking views of the Columbia River below, as well as bright purple camas wildflowers in the spring. Consider saving this trip for late afternoon; the bluff is a stunning place to catch the sunset.
Terrain: Paved with some wooden bridge areas
Stretching 21 miles (34 km) along a repurposed lumber railway line, the Banks-Vernonia Trail winds through shaded woodland canopies and across a total of 13 bridges, many of which traverse wide-open expanses of grassland peppered with delicate streams. There are six trailheads to choose from, but the Buxton trail starts smack in the middle of the forest and is by far the most beautiful.