Dig out the bikes and dust off those helmets. It’s time to get the whole family out on a spring ride! Whether your kids are old pros at biking or still learning how to balance, there’s a great path nearby for everyone. These routes are mostly away from traffic on paved trails, giving kids a chance to try out their wheels in safety. Read on to discover more.
photo: Richo.fan via Flickr
Choose a side of the river, or make a loop across the bridges for a grand tour of the Willamette! The Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade is a flat 1.5 miles one-way. One inclined ramp leads you to the water level and can be steep coming back up! If you do the loop, cross the Steel Bridge and head south on the Waterfront Park Trail to connect to Tilikum Crossing, Portland’s newest bridge. The full loop offers a great view of the river, downtown, and city life.
Distance: approximately 3 miles looped
Location: Downtown Portland
Offering a little bit more nature to take in than the Esplanade, the Springwater trail is a really great route that’s ready tailor to your needs. Need a short ride near downtown? It has one. Feel like heading all the way out to Gresham Park? It will get you there. Want to cool off by Johnson Creek while having access to plenty of restrooms on the way? Done and don! The trail is paved, mostly separated from main roads, and scenic, with lots of wildlife to check out (if your zooming doesn’t scare them away). You can take off-road breaks to stretch your legs at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Tideman Johnson Nature Park, and Powell Butte Nature Park, making this a route you’ll need a few days to thoroughly explore!
Distance: 21 miles one-way, though it’s easy to cut into shorter bits
Location: Downtown Portland to Gresham
photo: Richard Masoner via Flickr
If you want to avoid traffic completely, head up to Marine Drive to a paved trail running along the Columbia. The flat, wide path is great for everyone. While it can get windy, you’re little riders will be rewarded with views of ships and sailboats on the river, and plenty of airplanes taking off the airport. Starting at 33rd avenue you’ll find a dedicated bike path to the I-205 bridge, then past that on a smaller path near the water. Not as busy as the Springwater, but might be full of some more serious speed-cyclers, so tell the little ones to keep an eye out.
Distance: 17 miles one-way
Location: NE Portland
Just outside of Newberg, this historic park is the site of a long-gone pioneer town. Now visitors can camp, bike, hike, and even play disc golf on the banks of the Willamette River. Four miles of bike trails wind through the park, meandering through grassy meadows, oak groves, and along the river. Save time for visiting Pioneer sites like the Threshing Barn, the 1860s Kitchen Garden, and riding the whole trail out to the Historic Butteville General Store for an old-fashioned ice cream cone!
Distance: up to 4 miles of trails
Location: 5 miles south of Newberg, OR
Cost: $5 vehicle pass required
photo: Sam Saunders via Flickr
If your kids are older and more comfortable in traffic, take a family ride on the streets of Portland! Well-known to be a bike-friendly city, Portland Bureau of Transportation has mapped out safe scenic routes all across the city. Find an easy ride through NE Portland or Sauvie Island, or take on a hillier challenge at Skyline or Washington Park. And stay tuned for the upcoming Sunday Parkways across the city. The first one’s in SE Portland in May!
Location: all over, different lengths
What’s your favorite spring ride? Tell us in the comments below!