The Springwater Corridor comprises the southeast segment of the 40-Mile Loop regional trail system encircling the greater Portland area. The origins of the Loop come from a 1904 proposal by visionary landscape architects, the Olmsted brothers, who—during the planning process for Portland's Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition—put forth a plan for a 40-mile system of parks and greenways connected by boulevards.
Today, the family–friendly Springwater Corridor follows the banks of the Willamette River from downtown Portland to Johnson Creek and then parallels Johnson Creek through neighborhoods, industrial districts, park refuges, and wetlands—eventually ending in the town of Boring. Portland's light rail and city buses enhance options and ease of travel along the route's length.
The history of the trail stretches back to the early 1900s, when a rail line was built to bring people, produce, and timber from areas south and east of Portland into the growing metropolis. Known variously as the Portland Traction Company Line, the Cazadero Line, or the Bellrose Line, the railroad finally adopted the name Springwater Division Line, though neither the railroad nor the trail that bears the town's name ever reached this small community. In 1990, Portland bought the railroad corridor, which had ceased its passenger service in 1958 and its freight and timber hauling in the 1980s. The multiuse trail opened in 1996.
For a recreational tour, start at the Johnson Creek Boulevard trailhead; it provides ease of parking and avoids the on-road section between Ninth and 19th Avenues. Sellwood Riverfront Park is an alternate start point and worth a visit if you don't mind this bit of road section. The downtown start at SE Fourth Avenue and SE Ivon Street is another option. To avoid an industrial section from mile 8, which is not well traveled during the week or at night, choose the trailhead east of the I-205 Multi-Use Path at Flavel Street.
The Johnson Creek Boulevard trailhead sits at mile 6. If you backtrack a bit to cross the creek, you'll find a natural area. At mile 9, you'll cross the I-205 Multi-Use Path and eventually reach SE 111th Avenue and Beggars-Tick Wildlife Refuge. A right onto SE 122nd Avenue leads to the 17-acre Leach Botanical Garden, which boasts more than 2,000 plant species. Just a little farther along is the 612-acre Powell Butte Nature Park, offering meadows, forests, and mammal and bird habitats enjoyed by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.
The next part of the trail leads you through a hilly area toward the Cascade foothills. Take in the grandeur of Mount Hood, which stands at 11,240 feet. The trail then crosses Johnson Creek (mile 13)—a serene spot (with covered benches) to rest your feet and relax. Farther along, you'll reach Linnemann Station, after which you'll intersect with the 3-mile Gresham Fairview Trail, which runs north and will eventually connect with Marine Drive in Portland. The path leads to Gresham's Main City Park at mile 16. If you exit through the park to Powell Boulevard, you can explore Gresham’s pedestrian walkway in the shadow of Mount Hood. MAX, Portland’s light rail, is accessible nearby. The trail ends 5 miles farther at State Route 212 in Boring.
Access to the trail is available at many locations, including the I-205 Multi-Use Path. To reach the Johnson Creek Boulevard trailhead, from I-205, take Exit 16 and go east on SE Johnson Creek Boulevard for 2.2 miles. Turn left to stay on Johnson Creek Boulevard, and the trailhead is just past Johnson Creek on your right.
To reach the Boring trailhead at 28000 SE Dee Street, from Gresham, head west-southwest on US 26 for 3.8 miles. Turn left onto SE Stone Road, and after 0.5 mile, take a right onto SE 282nd Avenue. Go 2 miles, and turn right onto SR 212. Take an immediate right onto SE Dee Street, and parking will be on the left. From I-205, take Exit 14. Go east on SE Sunnyside Road for 5.8 miles. Turn left onto SR 212, and follow it for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto SE Dee Street, and parking will be on the left.