Favorite Bike Path in Portland – Hawthorne to Tabor

A good bike path is predictable and unexpected. A good bike path is popular and inconspicuous. A good bike path is simple and adventuresome. Despite the minimalist nature of this quadrant cutting bikeway, there seem to be endless opportunities. Consequently, in Southeast, in all its natural and man made beauty, I have found a favorite bike path in Portland.

The Bike Path

Beginning from its most western point, the path starts at the food carts at Hawthorne and 12th, known as Cartopia. Most folks would confess that it’s not good to start your bike ride with a big meal. But I am a character of contradictions.

Ladd’s Addition

After stuffing face with Potato Champion fries or a Bottle Rocket  burger, look to the south to embark into Ladd’s Addition. Inspired by the French L’Enfant design, this section of Portland sticks out on a map like a positive drug test result at the Tour de France in the early 2000s. There is plenty of room for cyclists to pedal while enjoying the local scenery in this cozy neighborhood. Find comfort in the shade of the American Elms. Gander at the diverse homes. Inhale the fresh Portland air.

Then exhale and round Ladd’s Circle. Next, veer off right to exit onto Harrison. Circumvent the small neighborhood Rose Garden. Past this, heading east, there will be a stoplight. Perpendicular to your path is 20th Avenue, a popular road for cars to use. Consequently, this stoplight is a nifty piece of Portland bicycle infrastructure. Often, busy intersections are where car-bike and car-pedestrian related accidents occur. The light here ensures that all travelers are aware of the frequent use of this cross-section. Following the white crosswalk or green cross-bike, citizens can cross comfortably as cars come to a halt indicated by the blinking light and stop sign. It’s nice knowing a city wants to protect its citizens.

Additionally, there is no through traffic by car at this cross. In fact, there is even a barrier that allows only cyclists to cross 20th. This is part of a measure to prevent cars from traveling for extended periods of time on the Neighborhood Greenways of Portland. This development is a staple of Portland’s commuter transit. It is part of what separates Portland as one of the best biking cities in America.

Enjoy Southeast Neighborhoods

Alas, begin a gradual ascent up Harrison. A single speed nightmare, a commuters struggle, a cyclists bunny slope, this ten block hill offers scenic homes and foliage to enjoy until reaching another bike friendly intersection with yet another 4-way with flashing red lights. When free to cross safely, the ascent is rewarded with a rightward verge onto Lincoln that carries cyclists downhill. Following Lincoln through the heart of Southeast Portland, bikers may peel North or South to enjoy the sights and sounds of our popular districts.

Diverting North, Hawthorne Street exemplifies the weird and fun quirks that make Portland so… well… Portland. Shop at boutiques and thrift stores, enjoy fine dining and food carts, and explore Portland culture. Alternatively, turn South and check out Division Street, a newly flourishing part of Portland offering some of the best food and neighborly feels. Occasionally, if I opt to skip Cartopia beforehand, I’ll stop at my favorite brunch spot Trinket for the ambiance and neighborhood vibes. Ultimately, orient back to Lincoln, continue along the Greenway passing puppies, pedestrians and parks while following signs to Mount Tabor.

Ascend Mount Tabor

https://www.ritani.com/blog/engagements/places-to-propose-in-portland/attachment/mount-tabor/

After crossing another well maintained and safe intersection at Lincoln and 60th, the Mountain will be to the left. Tabor’s main road to the summit offers stunning views to the East. Making way up the volcanic cinder cone, Portlanders can get their fix of mountains, trees and greenery within city limits.

Finally, the summit. Take in the city of Portland, enjoy a snack and watch the sun set behind the city with others. Share in the beauty of Portland. Share in the beauty of bicycle infrastructure. Share with me my favorite bike path in Portland.

Sock Donation Portland Rescue Mission

“Portland doesn’t turn its back on the less fortunate” claims Cycle Portland staff member Jesse Levy. During the month of December, Sock Hop, Cycle Portland’s sister company, donated a portion of their sales toward purchasing socks for the homeless of Portland, Oregon. While the weather gets colder, our hearts (and feet) warm at the notion of helping the homeless with a sock donation. Join the cause!

Sock Donation

Leaders in Portland’s emergency service operations, the Portland Rescue Mission provides clothes, shelter and resources for Portland’s homeless population. The PDX Rescue Mission is a close neighbor of ours. Customers purchase more socks from us for the holiday season. We decided to do a little giving of our own. Through December, Sock Hop and Cycle Portland contributed a successful sock donation. Over 60 socks and assorted clothes were given to the Rescue Mission and homeless of the city. Furthermore, Cycle Portland is looking to continue to build our relationship with the community.

As a result, assisting the homeless became a priority in our cause. “We’ve been involved with the community association for several years,” describes owner Evan Ross, “and wanted to continue to work on livability issues in the neighborhood.” In Downtown Chinatown, people have jackets, pants and often times even access to food. What they don’t have… are socks.

Despite access to many resources, the homeless struggle to find quality socks. Socks are a poor secondhand clothing item and should therefore be purchased new. As a sock retail store, Sock Hop decided to allocate some resources for the community. In a blog on the Portland Rescue Mission Website, Jesse states, “This issue is more common than most think and it is problem that can be fixed.”

Moving Forward

Portland doesn’t turn it’s back on those in need, and neither should you. Cycle Portland, Sock Hop and the Portland Rescue Mission encourage those fortunate enough to buy their own socks to contribute to the homeless community. There is a list of needed goods included on the Rescue Mission website. Finally, join us in building a better community, comfortable living situation and prosperous future.

Free Sunglasses from Sock Hop!

Lens me your ears (and feet). Cycle Portland is working with Sock Hop to provide sunglasses with each online purchase made from now until Valentine’s Day! Whether for you. your love, a casual acquaintance, a winter fling, the hilarious socks from Sock Hop are worth checking out. Buy now to claim your free sunglasses from Cycle Portland.

Free Sunglasses

Back in the summer, we released our Cycle Portland Sunglasses for in shop purchase. Not only are these shades suave and protective, but they are inexpensive as well. Wanting to share the LOVE with our sister company, Sock Hop, Cycle Portland is offering free sunglasses with each online purchase of socks. Now you can gaze with the spirit of Portland

Sock Hop

Sock Hop is a creative sock boutique selling affordable and silly/stylish socks. Looking for a taco-dinosaur sock? They got it. Looking for a pug pun sock? They got it. Looking for a unicorn sock? They got LOADS! Add 5, 10, 50 socks to your cart with FREE SHIPPING and get your FREE sunglasses with it.

If there’s one thing left to say, it’s that you should stock up on socks. People flock to our block to buy Sock Hop socks, but they need not. The prices will leave you in shock. Friends won’t mock, but they’ll certainly talk about your socks. Throw on these free sunglasses and remember… You rock.

Southwest Portland Bike Ride

If you’re looking for good views and an exhilarating ride the Council Crest Greenway Path is the way to go. See what makes the Pacific Northwest so beautiful on this Southwest Portland Bike Ride.

Southwest Portland Bike Ride

Marquam Hill

Unless you are looking to bike a couple hundred feet uphill (a great options with one of our E-bikes) I would recommend taking the OHSU aerial tram (tickets are  $4.90) to the top and starting from there. Once at the top of the tram, take the Gibbs/Marquam hill greenway road until it dead ends into Fairmont. Here you’re going to want to take a right on Fairmont followed by a left on Greenway, then follow the signs to Council Crest Park.

Council Crest Park

Historic Council Crest Park offers a 360-ish degree view of Portland with beautiful views of downtown, the Washington Cascades, Southwest Portland, and on a clear day, a breathtaking view of Mt. Hood. I usually like to stop here and take lots of photos as this is one of the best spots to see Portland.

Downhill

Next comes the fun part. From the top of the crest, head back down Greenway making sure to take a left on SW Talbot Terrace. This road is a bit thin and a little windy so be sure to be alert of cars. At the end of Talbot Terrace take a left on Fairmount Blvd. You’ll follow Fairmont for a while before hooking a right onto SW Chesapeake. Here you’ll have a quick succession of turns consisting of a right on Twombly, then a right on 27th, and finally a left on Sunset. The Fairmont to Sunset section is fairly steep and I enjoy bombing it as fast as possible, but ride at your own comfort level as it is enjoyable at any speed.

Sunset will take you to Hillsdale, one of SW Portland’s cute tucked away “mini towns”. Here there are many great restaurants, food trailers and shops to check out. But I prefer to head west on Capitol Highway to the Sasquatch Brewing Co.  SW taproom for a nice end of Southwest Portland bike ride beer.

Springwater Trail Bike Ride Loop

The Springwater trail/West Bank Esplanade/Eastbank Esplanade 11 mile loop is everything a bike ride should be: Beautiful, calming, energizing, fun, and full of surprises. Last summer, a portion of this route was closed for most of the year last year.  Now, I am glad to say that the Springwater Trail bike ride is back.

Springwater Trail Bike Ride

Start

Beginning the ride, Rivelo is as good a place as any to start.  It is a bike shop/ record store that only sells Bob Dylan LPs. Additionally, it’s located just two blocks from the North Entrance to the Springwater Trail bike ride. Rivelo is the perfect place to browse around while awaiting the rest of the bike crew to assemble. I find it better to ride the loop in a clockwise direction, but I can’t really say why.  Perhaps this is because you can better appreciate Ross Island as you approach from the North.  Kayakers, paddle boarders and boaters floating along the Willamette always add to the scene. As do the birds. There are like, Hella birds.  Herons, hawks, grebs. I saw a Bald Eagle once (I swear!). And you will see all of this in the first mile.

Riding the trail last spring, I was confused by what I thought was snow.  Turns out it was just the floating cottonwood seeds creating a whimsical atmosphere.  (I make a game of trying to catch them as I cycle by. It’s harder than it sounds.) Although I’ve seen it many times, I’m always surprised when I look left and see the bird mural on a bluff overlooking a little lake.  Learning that the mural, said to be one of the largest hand painted murals in the USA, is also on a mausoleum, only makes it that much cooler.  Biggest or not, it is beautiful. As is the mile hike it takes to reach it. Or so I’ve been told. A friend and I once locked our bikes to a tree and tried to find the trail that leads to it, but got lost.  We had fun though.

Oaks Bottom and Sellwood

When I’m feeling festive, I stop for a bit at the Oaks Amusement Park.  For the roller skating or bumper cars (if I need to work off some aggression), but usually just for the funnel cake.  Even when I don’t stop, just seeing kids on rides, smelling the foods, and the general carnival atmosphere puts a smile on my face.  The park has been open for over 100 years, so it must be doing something right.

From there, it’s only another mile or so to Sellwood RiverfrontPark. Stopping here is mandatory.  Especially if you brought anything for a picnic for your Springwater Trail bike ride. In Summer the beach is filled with people splashing in the Willamette River, dogs running around, and live music some nights.  It’s also a great place to launch a kayak. (I’ve yet to figure out a good way to tow a kayak on a bike, but I am pretty good at convincing Kayak friends to bring an extra one and meet me there.)  Other times, I’ll just lay back and watch the boats pass back and forth underneath the Sellwood Bridge.

Sellwood Bridge over swimmers in the Willamette.
Photograph by Tyson Gillard.

West Side

Next, cross to the West Bank. It’s two blocks up, a right on 6th, then a quick right on Tacoma Street. To get to the Sellwood.  Rebuilt in 2016 to be more bike and pedestrian friendly, this is now an awesome bridge to cycle across.  I love the views and the plaques with interesting info on the history of Portland and the indigenous communities that lived here for thousands of years.  

On the other side, head north through more parks, houseboat communities, awesome river views, and sailing clubs, until you reach the Old Spaghetti Factory.  The waterfront trail ends here, so you leave the river behind for the bike lanes on Bond and Moody ave through the high rise condos and under the OHSU aerial tram of the South Waterfront District. Before you know it, you reach Tom McCall Waterfront park for more leisurely river view riding.  The promenade is nice for slow riding, but if it gets too crowded I like to take the two lane bike-way known as Better Naito. Not only is it faster, but I also like to check out Mill Ends Park to see if there has been any alterations to the world’s smallest (and ever evolving) city park.  

From there it is an easy cruise into Old Town.  For the obligatory end of the bike ride beer, there is no better place than a beer bar in a bike shop. So I pop into Cycle Portland for a Pint at the Handle Bar. So ends the Springwater Trail bike ride.

Check out the map at the top or our City Guides for more information on Portland bike rides.

Portland Bike Path – The Bowl to St. John’s

Originating from a big city, I enjoy biking on a path that has it all; a riverfront car-free park path, a shared path that takes you through industry, as well as a shared bridge path.  Portland definitely fills the gamut. My favorite Portland bike path takes you through all of it.

The Portland Bike Path

Waterfront

After stopping in at Cycle Portland to grab a rental bike, I typically start off in “The Bowl ” at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a small, intimate amphitheater.  It gives me a chance to look over the riverfront and collect my thoughts.  Also, it is the central hub for many festivals and concerts. I can also appreciate looking out on the river at the Taiwan-style “Dragonboats ” as they train for their race in early June.  Not to mention the baby geese littering the Central Lawn as they chase after their mother!

From there I bike along the car-free riverfront path on the West side of the Willamette river. On my way, I’m typically greeted by fellow bikers, runners, and tourists all utilizing and enjoying the little strip along the park.  Occasionally, I’ll stop along the way at the Portland Saturday Market at Ankeny Square to see what creativity the vendors are stirring up. I’ll also hang out by the Skidmore Fountain sip some chai from one of dozens of local shops and vendors and watch families play.

NW Portland

After riding along the Esplanade I connect with motorists on a shared road named Naito Parkway.  It is on this roadway that I ride under the steel lattice work of both the Steel Bridge and the Broadway Bridge,  both of which are engineering marvels. From there I hang a left at NW 9th Ave, cross the Amtrak Railway at Union Station and then hang a quick slight right onto NW Overton St.  I run this through both the Nob Hill Alphabet District and the Northwest District where I reflect on my days living in a more condensed part of town.

After daydreaming a bit, I then continue along NW Overton St. to NW 24th Ave and hang a right.  I then run 24th to NW Vaughn St and hang a left. NW Vaughn St. turns into NW Wardway St. I’ll loop around the Adidas Employee Store and hang a left at NW Nicolai St.  Nicolai will almost immediately turn into NW St. Helens Road which will take you to Mount St. Helens if you want to get out of town. But we’ll stay on the Portland bike path for now.

St. John’s

My ride of choice takes a left from St. Helens Rd onto Bridge Ave where you can merge onto the St. John’s Bridge. Here you can visually capture not only the grandeur of the suspension bridge, but also that of the industries lining the Williamette River.  On a good day, you can make out downtown Portland in the distance. I’ve heard you can also capture Mt. Hood but I have yet to experience that.  It will be amazing when I do.

Photograph by David Gn

After traversing the St. John’s Bridge, you will be placed on N. Philadelphia Ave.  I take Philadelphia to N Lombard St. and hang a left. I normally go 2 blocks to the Blue Bird Tavern and grab a brew as I reflect on my ride and all that I have encountered.  … But it isn’t over yet! After a few (many) brews, I then walk (stumble) 1 block toward N Philadelphia Ave and stop off at the Tienda Santa Cruz and grab a hefty vegetarian burrito.  

Once settled and sobered, I find my bike parked on Lombard in front of the Blue Bird.  I then mount and hang a left on Baltimore, which is the cross street on Lombard around the corner from the Bird going away from N. Philadelphia  Ave. From there it is a straight shot to Cathedral Park where you can sit on a park bench and watch the sunset from alongside, or under the St. John’s Bridge.  Full and fuzzy, I usually call this the end of the ride. Of course, I still have to get home. But that ride description is for another day! I hope that you enjoyed my favorite Portland bike path!  And remember, always wear a helmet! Ride safe!

New Portland Bridge: Sullivan’s Gulch Crossing

Portland City Council’s recent unanimous vote to pass the Central City in Motion Plan has got us excited about the proposed projects soon to be under way. The plan will create a better Downtown and Central Eastside for non-car commuters. It will benefit students in the area. It will provide Bridgetown with a new Portland Bridge.

Most Bike-citing Project: Sullivan’s Gulch Crossing

Cyclists in Portland have often warned one another to “Avoid the Lloyd.” Translation: The Lloyd District ain’t for pedal people. It isn’t just hyperbole. With its weird intersections (like the crossing of NE Lloyd Blvd, 13th and… 16th. wtf?), rat’s nest of a railroad crossing through a bike lane on 11th, and multi-block street interruptions (I’m looking at you Lloyd Center) the Lloyd District is best sidestepped.

Recently, improvements have been made to improve the laborious Lloyd. A marked path over the MAX rail on 11th helps and NE Multnomah Street’s (partially) protected bike lane makes for a nice East/West passage. But the main problem remains: Safely crossing Interstate 84.

Crossing Options

While heading south on 7th (the districts only north/south bike lane thoroughfare) you are presented with two options at the T-junction with Lloyd Blvd. First, you could, A) Turn right. Next, head down the hill in the narrow bike lane. Whilst traveling, avoid the lumber piles of sticks that fall there. Then, cross Grand Ave. Simply merge across two lanes in 100 feet to make a left with the cars and trucks onto MLK Blvd. Finally, pedal like your life depends on it (because it does) along the 4 lanes of cars trying to either get to the 84 on-ramp or beat the light at Burnside.

Alternatively, you could B) Turn left. Then cross, from a stop, the 4 lanes of traffic to the bike lane on the far side. Next, merge in front of car traffic at 11th to turn right on 12th. If you’re lucky, you won’t get cars racing around you to pass you in the same lane that you’re riding in until you reach the bike lane after Irving. After that, all you have to worry about is the triple trailer, 26 wheeler trucks pulling out of Franz Bakery. The 12th street crossing is the much better choice, but still far from ideal. Soon, however, we will have a third option: Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.

New Portland Bridge

New Portland Bridge Rendering
Conceptual rendering of future Sullivan’s Crossing

Named after Sullivan’s Gulch (the narrow valley which the I-84 and Union Pacific Railroad now occupy) the Sullivan’s Crossing Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge will connect NE 7th on either side of the gap. At this new Portland bridge, a traffic light will replace the one-way stop on the Lloyd side. This new bridge will have 12 feet of pedestrian walkway and 12 feet of bike lanes. Including an awesome view of Big Pink, expect the pedestrian side to be a crowded spot for instagram shots.

In addition to the bridge, 7th street south of the bridge will also be getting a makeover with wider sidewalks. Sharrows on what is already a relatively quiet stretch lead to improved bike lanes in South East. The project, scheduled to be completed in 2021, will be a major stepping stone in Portland’s proposed “Green Loop” of bike, jogging and walking paths encircling six square miles of Downtown and Central Eastside.

Alas, Sullivans Gulch is the most awaited project according to surveys. When asked about prioritization, Portlanders claimed that of the 18 projects in Central City in Motion’s proposal, Sullivan’s Crossing was the clear favorite. Considering how many people will benefit: Students at Benson Polytechnic High School, MAX riders who work in the Kerns District, and Jimmy Johns delivery cyclists just to name a few, this isn’t very surprising. What is, is that it has taken this long to implement the concept of this new Portland bridge!