Portland Pathways FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the Portland Pathways program

How does Portland Pathways work?

In the Portland Pathways process, community members and the City collaborate to create new trails. If a proposed trail has been adopted by City Council from a PBOT plan, community members can obtain a permit to construct and maintain that trail and contribute local knowledge to the trail design and development. The City will provide guidance through the permitting and trail design process.

How do I know if the trail I have in mind is on public right-of-way (ROW)?

The map below includes council-adopted trails from the SW Trails Plan and PedPDX, which consolidated approved trails from multiple plans. If your Portland Pathways proposal is along one of those networks, the trail should be eligible for a Portland Pathways permit.

Remote Media URL

What kind of trails are perfect for this program?

Any Portland Pathway on an approved trail map is a candidate for the Portland Pathways program, particularly those that:

  • Connect people to places they want to go, like parks, schools, work, and transit.
  • Create a more direct, comfortable, or safe walking option

I want to get involved! How can I participate?

You can take part in several ways!

  • Apply for a permit
  • Lend your voice during trail design
  • Volunteer to create or maintain a permitted trail
  • Volunteer to provide technical support for new trails

What are the benefits of receiving a permit through this program?

A permit allows those who are not adjacent property owners to construct and maintain trails in the public right-of-way. Under House Bill 2865 (ORS 105.668), adjacent property owners are also protected from liability from possible injuries or damages that occur on permitted trails.

Is there a community support requirement?

Portland Pathways is only permitting trails that are part of a plan adopted by City Council. Public outreach and involvement are key elements of adopted plan development and authorization. As part of the permitting process for Portland Pathways, PBOT will notify area residents of the permit application. PBOT staff will work with the permittee and community members to find resolutions to issues that may arise during notification.

PBOT has the authority to not issue a permit in cases of harassment, environmental damage, and/or needs of the bureau to otherwise utilize the right-of-way arise. PBOT also has the authority to deny or revoke a permit if the Portland Pathways' Code of Conduct and/or Acknowledgements are violated.

What does it mean for a trail to be “City Council-adopted”?

For a trail to be “City Council-adopted” or, “adopted by City Council,” it means that the trail was a part of a plan that was accepted by City Council as an official City of Portland plan, and included community engagement as part of the plan. The interactive map above shows Council-adopted trails from the Southwest Urban Trails Plan (2000) and PedPDX (2019), which consolidated adopted trails from disparate plans.

What is the Code of Conduct for Portland Pathways applications?

A Portland Pathways application requires applicants to adhere to a Code of Conduct and signed Acknowledgements for the benefit of themselves, the community, community partners, and city staff. The Code of Conduct is as follows:

  • 1. No person shall violate any Federal, State or City of Portland Laws.
  • 2. No person shall take, deface, degrade, damage, or destroy any personal property located in or upon this location. 
  • 3. No person may light any object on fire except for smoking devices designed for smoking.
  • 4. No person shall engage in behavior that constitutes as harassment toward private property owners, residents, or neighbors regardless of their support or opposition of the proposed trail.
  • 5. No person shall engage in behavior that constitutes as harassment toward City staff.
  • 6. No person shall engage in unsafe action during trail construction or during trail maintenance.

Consequences for not abiding by this Code of Conduct may result in the termination of a trail application or the removal of an existing permit.

How does Portland Pathways make sure trails do not harm the environment?

The Portland Pathways program has several ways to make sure trails protect natural resources and comply with environmental rules. Projects must meet the requirements of applicable land use and overlay zones, and all trail proposals undergo review by several bureaus include Bureau of Environmental Services and Bureau of Development Services. Trails must also meet existing City of Portland Trail Type A, C, or J guidelines as detailed in the Trail Design Guidelines for Portland's Park System (2009)

Do tax payers have to pay for newly permitted trails? 

No. Trails that are permitted through this program are not provided with funds for trail development. This program provides technical support and a permitting process for City Council-adopted trails. However, we do inform those who subscribe to email updates (sign up here) about grant opportunities to support trail development and maintenance across the City of Portland. 

Still have a question? Email us at trails@portlandoregon.gov.