Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

Natural Area
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
This page contains information about Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a beautiful mix of meadows, woodlands, and wetlands right in the hear of Portland on the east bank of the Willamette River.
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Summary

Tucked on the east bank of the Willamette River, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a natural area in Southeast Portland. Spanning 163 acres, its home to over 175 species of birds, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and red-tailed hawks. You'll also find river otters, beavers, and even deer roaming the landscape.

The refuge offers a variety of habitats, from meadows and marshes to wetlands and forests. As you explore, you'll appreciate the seasonal lake, open grassy areas, and mixed woodlands. The Springwater Corridor, a popular hiking and biking trail, winds through the park, providing visitors with great views and lots of opportunities to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.

Oaks Bottom is perfect for nature lovers of all ages. Whether you're an avid bird watcher, a casual hiker, or just looking for a peaceful retreat, this refuge has something for everyone. The efforts to control invasive species and promote native plants have created a thriving environment for wildlife and a beautiful backdrop for your visit.

Come and experience the natural beauty of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Connect with nature and enjoy the diverse wildlife right in the heart of the city.

Field Trips

Organize a day of outdoor learning for your classroom, community group, or club through PP&R's City Nature program.

The best way to learn about nature is to be in it. That's true for both children and adults. Ecology and environmental science make more sense when you can physically touch and interact with nature. Our field trip leaders have a background in science and education. Teaching methods are creative and engaging and include games, inquiry, and observation. 

Learn more about Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge field trips and other opportunities at the PP&R Environmental Education pages below:

Trails

Explore Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge on the North Woodland Trail and Oaks Bluff Trail. Starting at the north parking lot and trailhead, this one-mile round trip hike offers a unique view of the refuge.

The paved North Woodland Trail starts with a gentle downhill slope and is perfect for both cyclists and pedestrians. As you stroll, enjoy the shaded canopy and the sounds of nature. The trail connects to the gravel Oaks Bluff Trail, leading to a scenic wildlife viewing point. Here, you can spot deer, birds, and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

For more detailed information about the trails, visit our Oaks Bottom Trail Profiles page.

Portland Migratory Birds

Nature hawks, quail, pintails, mallards, coots, woodpeckers, kestrels, and widgeons are just the start of the list of birds you might encounter in Oaks Bottom. You can also find great blue heron in the area because of the proximity to one of the rookeries on Ross Island. Visit Portland Migratory Birds for more info.

Frogs and Salamanders of Portland

Did you know that Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge has an education pond called tadpole pond? Salamanders start laying eggs in tadpole pond in January, and frogs start laying soon after. January through March are good times to see eggs. April through June are good times to see frog tadpoles and salamander larvae. How many creatures will you see in tadpole pond? You'll have to visit to find out. View our Amphibians of Portland brochure to learn more.

Friends of Oaks Bottom

Friends of Oaks Bottom is a volunteer organization working in partnership with PP&R for the promotion, preservation, and management of Oaks Bottom. The Friends participate in habitat restoration, trail maintenance, guided hikes, information programs, and the publication of a newsletter. For more info, call 503-729-0318.

Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project Overview

In 2018, the Bureau of Environmental Services, PP&R, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked together to restore 75 acres of wetland habitat at Oaks Bottom.

Year acquired
1959
Size in acres
161.58
History

Oaks Bottom is a floodplain wetland located along the east bank of the Willamette River. Part of the park is built on a sanitation landfill consisting of 400,000 cubic feet of construction waste material layered with soil. The City of Portland acquired the original 115 acres in 1959. Parks acquired the landfill property from the Donald M. Drake Company at the beginning of 1969 to block its development as an industrial park. The area was believed, at the time, to be one of the few remaining marshland areas in Portland, and local residents were strongly opposed to its development as industrial property.

Portland Parks & Recreation's Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a 163-acre complex of meadows, woodlands and wetlands in Portland on the east bank of the Willamette River, just north of the Sellwood Bridge. The refuge is the largest remaining natural area within the lower Willamette River floodplain and provides important habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened salmon and more than 175 bird species.

Oaks Bottom supports many wildlife species that are considered “special status” - in decline on a regional or statewide scale. These include 44 bird species, three bat species, and one type of amphibian.

PP&R manages the site as an important habitat area and an inviting place to view wildlife in the heart of the city. The Springwater Corridor Trail (part of the region’s trail network) bisects the western edge of the refuge. A hiking trail and one hike/bike trail connect the refuge with two visitor parking lots and the Sellwood neighborhood to the east.

PP&R created Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (name changed from Oaks Pioneer Park), the city’s first wildlife refuge, in 1988 after a long history of environmental degradation at the site. The City thanks the Sellwood neighbors, schools and colleges, and many other volunteer and partner groups who help restore habitats at the refuge.

Park Location or Entrance

SE 7th Avenue and Sellwood Blvd
Portland, OR 97202

Open hours

Open 5am to midnight

North parking lot closed 10pm to 5am

Park amenities/activities

Visitor Attraction
Riverfront Views
Paths (Paved)
Trails (Biking)
Trails (Hiking)

Park policy

  • All dogs must be leashed in this park.

City section

SE