Accessible Bridges and Boardwalks, Portland, OR

After wintering in the desert, it was great to reacclimate to the luscious Pacific Northwest with one of our favorite ADA accessible outings, one we’ve done over a dozen times: rolling a section of the Springwater Corridor into and around downtown Portland’s riverfront. Scenic cityscapes peek through punctuated clearings of natural wetlands, making the journey varied and colorful. Portland is a city of bridges (and roses and homebrews and celebrated weirdness), and on a good day you can get a little bit of all its claim to fame along this relatively easy loop with a mobility device.

Be sure to stop for something to eat at either Flying Elephants Delicatessen (look for the tall, red balloon sculpture where the light rail stops at the end of Tilikum Crossing – see recommended route for more) or Theory Eatery at OMSI. Both restaurants have outdoor seating right along the path, guaranteeing superb people watching.

Recommended route: Unload at Sellwood Riverfront Park where they have a ADA bathroom facility near the ADA parking spots (brilliant, I know). It’s going to be a long ride (if you want it to be, as we do) so take advantage of it.

Exit up and out of the park and follow the Springwater Corridor left towards the city about 3.5 miles along the flat, well-marked multi-use path. (About midway, a right turn into Oak Bottoms offers a worthwhile side path that is marked ADA accessible.)

At the end of the Springwater Corridor turn left towards the river (turning landmarks include McMillan Lumber and the All Classical Portland building). Follow the signs to East Esplanade which will route you right, towards OMSI, including its Theory Eatery. (The restaurant is closed on Mondays.)

Continue along the East Esplanade about 1.75 miles, passing underneath the Hawthorne Bridge and Morrison Bridge, until you reach the great, dark iron Burnside Bridge. Along the route be sure to look for the famous Portland, Oregon neon sign on the other side of the sparkling Willamette River.

Turn left. Go over the multi-use grid path of the Burnside Bridge to the other side of the river.

2017 Women’s March

Turn left again and enjoy cruising (usually more slowly) towards Tom McCall Riverfront Park. Generally, there’s something always going on: a traveling amusement park, outdoor markets, dragon boat races, street performers, or the 2017 Women’s March (you bet I was there!).

At the end of the park, there will be a roundabout. Look down towards the streets to find the bike path that flows a few blocks onward to what is clearly marked as a dead end except for bikes and pedestrians. Follow the path until you see the light rail station and Tilikum Crossing bridge on your left. Cross over the street at the appropriate marking.

Collaborative Life Sciences Building
Good and proper ADA access at the entry, Collaborative Life Sciences Building

This is a good place to stop for a refreshment or lunch at Flying Elephants Delicatessen. There are also public restrooms here. You can enter automatic door openers to the second floor bathroom facilities by following the Collaborative Life Sciences Building around to the front. I was able to drive my red mobility scooter directly to the bathroom door.

Tilikum Crossing, the largest non-car bridge in the USA

And now for the grand finale: continue over the modern Tilikum Crossing – Bridge of the People. Only foot traffic, bikes, scooters of course, and a light rail are permitted on Tilikum Crossing. Towering columns and tubular, gleaming white connectors draw the eyes upward and outward where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Mount Hood.

Turn right just past the All Classical Portland building to reconnect to Springwater Corridor back to the parking lot.

Hydrate well.

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