PDX Runs: Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island View

You’ll love this run for its:

  • Paved, flat roads
  • Long loop
  • Mountain and park views
  • Easy parking

If you’re looking for a flat run 12 miles or longer, Sauvie Island north of the city is a great option. 

There's a reason this bucolic island in the Columbia River features in the social media of local elite runners when they document their long workouts. The island is 26,000 pancake flat acres dedicated to farming and wildlife reserves, with light traffic most of the year.

It’s about 12.1 miles around the main loop—Sauvie Island Road, Reeder Road, and Gillihan Road—and you’re on farm roads with other bikers and runners the whole time. Enjoy the fresh scents as well as the views of the mountains on clear days.

To get there, take Hwy 30 north past the St. John’s Bridge. You’ll cross on the Sauvie Island Bridge over the Multnomah Channel. There is one main parking lot immediately to the left of the bridge, next to the only convenience store on the route.

You can also park at some of the farms: Bella Organic Farm advertises a “park-and-bike” parking lot, with the intention that you support their farmstand and get some fresh berries or produce after the workout.

The roads are well-paved and flat. There is not a large shoulder, and never a sidewalk. This is not a place to run if you’re nervous about running on roads with vehicles, and leave your music in the car.

The route is so popular with bikers and runners, however, that most drivers are expecting you, and you’ll see other groups of bikers and runners on your lap.

Running from the main parking lot by the store, I like to head south (under the bridge) first. Take a left every time there’s an intersection, which is only about three times. Look for large boats in the channel in the first half of the loop, and savor the mountains and Forest Park views in the second half of the loop.

If you run north or clockwise, you’ll take a right at every stop sign intersection, and you’ll see Howell Territorial Park and houseboats near the start of your run.

Post-run, enjoy some of what Sauvie Island has to offer—which is a lot!

In the fall, stay after for pumpkin patch activities at the farms such as corn mazes and tractor rides. In the spring and summer, try your hand at picking berries and other abundant fresh produce.

Some farms even serve prepared food and bev and host occasional evening concerts on warm summer nights. There’s also Sauvie Island Beach if you want to relax or take an almost-ice bath afterward.*

 

*Word to the wise: Collins Beach to the north of Sauvie Island Beach is "clothing optional."

 

Julie Baker is a former collegiate swimmer who runs for the Portland Running Company Race Team. She lives in Portland with her husband and two small children. Email baker.juliew@gmail.com.

 

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