Hanging Out Under a Bridge

Note to self: Skip the isolated trails between the river and abandoned railroad tracks when you’re alone, especially if no one knows where you are.
Note to self: Just because it’s sunny don’t assume it’s warm. It’s February for goodness sake. More layers.
Note to self: Carry a hankie when it’s cold.

Powers Marine Park

Powers Marine Park looking south along the trail

Sellwood Bridge bolts

Bridge bolts are as big as my head!

Powers Marine Park lies alongside the Willamette River just south of the new Sellwood Bridge. I’ve been wanting to explore this little park since the bridge construction project finally ended last year. Apparently, the 1926 bridge design was built for fewer, lighter automobiles, and oops! did not take into account that the western bank was shifting and crumbling, and the bridge would someday go with it! The new construction is bike friendly, with long ramps that make it easy to get from street level to the bike-footpath that runs north toward downtown.

Under the Sellwood Bridge

Under the massive Sellwood Bridge looking northeast

Perfectly graded ramps from bridge to path

Perfectly graded ramps from bridge to path

I walk down the ramp to a narrow stretch of trail with beautiful watery vistas, and an impressive view of the underside of the massive bridge that spans the river. 

Walking south, the long 14 acre park has a path that winds through trees and scrub, a perfect place to meander alone, the water close by, sea birds and fishing boats drifting.

I spot a couple homeless camps, and then a lone fisherman, and I feel a little too much loneliness, a little more hesitant. A mile from the trailhead, a car full of about six men pull off onto the road above me and come scrambling down the cliff right toward me. I stop, rooted to the spot, and watch warily as they approach.


A lone fisherman



I have never been the object of violence, but am nevertheless nervous in situations like this. And I hate that. Why can’t I hike where I want without being concerned about human behavior? Fortunately these men are just scouting out a likely fishing spot, and I walk on, quickly texting Alan my location so he can find my body later on. Then I feel sheepish and overly dramatic. I go on these hikes seeking peace and quiet, but have to find a balance between solitude and being uncomfortably alone. It’s not until I get home that I find an article from 2010 calling the area a “no man’s land” and “a haven for transient camps,” but since then “efforts have been made” to clean the area up and make it “family friendly.”

New creek drainage construction

New creek drainage construction with attention to beauty

Even so, it’s beautiful, I do love walking by the river, and the clear winter day is breathtaking. 

I walk back and up to the bridge which has wide sidewalks and bike paths. Many signs kindly fill me in on the history and features of the bridge, and I learn that it weighs 10 million pounds. Good to know. I can see the downtown skyline, sailboats in the distance, and closer in, houses that float on the water! Curious, I look up Macadam Bay Floating Homes, and yes, as cool as I thought. A floating home. Here’s some close up pix if you’re ready to invest.

North view from Sellwood Bridge

North view from Sellwood Bridge, floating homes center left, city skyline in the distance. Bike ramp left foreground, Sellwood neighborhood on right

I drive home through the adjacent, enormous River View Cemetery, filled with Portland luminaries since 1882, but that’s a story for another day.

Note to self: keep taking advantage of this oddly dry, sunny winter, and hit the trails! Maybe bring a buddy next time.

6 thoughts on “Hanging Out Under a Bridge

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