A new sandy beach in the heart of downtown Portland with great views. Why aren’t there more of these?
One of my biggest complaints about Portland is our tendency to ignore, fear, sometime loathe the river that runs right through the middle of the city. There’s a common conception that it’s dirty, polluted and dangerous. Most people you talk to say there is “no way” they’d ever swim in it. I agree with the idea that the river is dangerous, especially since through the core of downtown there are almost no places to get out! It’s surrounded by seawalls plus it’s swift, cold and often filled will debris. But I don’t think it’s as dirty as everyone thinks. At one time it was, but most of the pollution has been cleaned up. Now I’m sure many will disagree with me, and according to this article, eating the fish in the river are still suspect, but taking a dip or spending time on the banks will probably be fine.
That’s why I’ve been a big fan of the Human Access Project. A group trying to improve the Willamette River’s reputation and get more people to use it. For the last few summers they’ve been hosting “The Big Float” an event that let’s people float across the river in a variety of water craft. But this week, the Human Access Project had a big milestone, the opening of the first beach in downtown Portland. It’s being called “Poet’s Beach” and you can find it on the west side of the river under the Marquam Bridge.
Spike and I went to check it out earlier this week. We parked near Salmon Street Springs Fountain then walked south on the waterfront path. Under the Marquam Bridge is a little stone path heading down towards the water. The stones are engraved with poems from local 4th graders and Chinook words. At the bottom of the path you can walk onto the beach. It’s about 100 feet of sandy beach and another little rocky peninsula that has great views of the new bridge.
We were there on a weekday morning but we weren’t alone. Another man was enjoying the view and a mother and her toddler were playing on the rocks. It’s a really great little spot that gives you a great perspective of the city, the bridges, and the Willamette River that we are usually so removed from. If you need a place to cool of during the coming heatwave, consider an afternoon at Poet’s Beach.