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Portland Pathways Program Process


Portland Pathways allows community members to propose, design, and build trails within the public right-of-way (ROW).

Undeveloped ROW exists throughout the city. People often use undeveloped ROWs to find quicker routes to stores, places of worship, and friends’ and families’ homes. Portland Pathways provides the opportunity to permit to both new and long-standing trails on these lands.

In the Portland Pathways process, community members and the City collaborate to create new trails. Community members propose their idea for a trail and contribute local knowledge to the trail design and development. Meanwhile, the City will provide guidance through the permitting and trail design process. During the permitting process you will be contacted by a PBOT staff member with an update on the status of your project.

How can I participate?

 You can take part in several ways!

  • Propose a trail and apply for a permit
  • Lend your voice during trail design
  • Volunteer to build or maintain a permitted trail
  • Volunteer to provide technical support for new trails

You want to permit a trail. Here is how to get started!

Step 1. Send in a Trails Request Form. 

Step 2. Bureau Review 

Step 3. Community Notification 

Step 4.  Design Charrette & On-site visit to proposed trail 

Step 5. Obtain the applicable permits 

Step 6. Construction & On-going Maintenance 

For more information email or call (503-823-4414) the Urban Trails Coordinator. 

Application Process

First, you must submit your application!

Application can be submitted online or downloaded to fill out offline. 

As the focus of Portland in the Streets Programs are community centered, the proposed trail should also connect to places people want to go, parks, schools, places of work, and transit. Additionally, the purpose of these trails is to improve the pedestrian environment, therefore proposed trails should provide a more direct, comfortable, or safer (e.g., does not require crossing busy roads) route than existing infrastructure allows to meet this requirement. You can email for help.

Questions to ask before applying: 

How do I know if it’s public right of way?

  • Go to
  • Type in the address where the trail ends or begins, OR the cross-streets
  • All the areas outlined in white are City right-of-way.
  • Email PBOT staff to confirm that the undeveloped ROW is under PBOT jurisdiction.

What kind of trails are perfect for this program?

Trails that are great for the Portland Pathways program are:

  • Trails that connect people to places they want to go, like parks, schools, work, and transit.
  • Trails that create a more direct, comfortable, or safe walking option.
  • Gravel or dirt areas located in underdeveloped low-volume streets, alleyways, and urban pathways.

What kind of trails are perfect for this program?

A permit allows those who are not adjacent property owners to construct and maintain trails in the ROW. 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.

Process Overview


Bureau Review

Several public agencies will review your application to see if there are any projects planned in the proposed trail location or other issues with development. Some PBOT ROWs are on top of utilities such as water mains or sewers. It is important to make sure the proposed trail will not harm the function or maintenance of these utilities. 

Community Notification

PBOT will notify the community of your trail project. This notification will also include an opportunity to provide feedback. This step is important because it allows people who live by the trail to contribute to the trail design. Community support is also important because those living in the neighborhood will be the primary users of the trail.

Trails that have demonstrated support by neighbors and adjacent property owners are streamlined.  If a proposed trail is not identified in an adopted plan, community support for the trail can still be confirmed through a notification sent by the City providing an opportunity for neighbors to give feedback. Adjacent property owners, who take maintenance responsibility and have liability until an improvement is made, would be given a voice and have an opportunity to express their support or objection to the trail.

There are two types of required community notification and support:

  • Simple Community Support Requirements: The Simple Requirement is for trails that are already included in City Council-adopted plans (such as the SW Urban Trails Plan of 2000). For these trails, PBOT will send a notice to neighbors within 400 feet of the proposed trail. You can determine if your trail is “adopted” at
  • Moderate Community Support Requirements: The Moderate Requirement is for trails that are not a part of City Council-adopted plans. For these trails, PBOT will look to the community most affected by the potential trail to help decide whether the trail moves forward. To do so, PBOT will send one letter to property owners living right next to the trail to collect feedback and gauge support for the trail. The trail will impact these residents the most. They are also responsible for not creating barriers to the trail once it is permitted. If less than 40% of these residents oppose the trail, the application will move to the next step. PBOT will also send a separate letter to residents living within 400 feet of the trail, as under the Simple Community Support Requirements.

All trail applicant groups will be held to the Acknowledgements and Code of Conduct outlined in the application. This includes applications for trails included in City Council-adopted plans.

Trail Design and Site Visit

Our team will work with you to design your trail. This is to make sure the trail provides the best experience for you and your neighbors. We will also visit the proposed trail location to work out the details of the trail design. This visit will include the applicant, PBOT's Trails Coordinator, PBOT's Permit’s Lead, and a Third-party trail reviewer.

Any proposed trail must meet City of Portland “Trail Type A, C and J” guidelines. These standards are in “Trail Design Guidelines for Portland’s Park System” (2009). The trail design must also follow any applicable environmental or overlay zoning codes. Our team will review the trail design against these standards. You are also welcome to reach out to local trail groups for design assistance.

Trail Permitted

A trail must meet all access, community support, and design requirements to receive a permit. The Portland Pathways Trails Coordinator and a third-party trail reviewer will review the site before issuing a permit.

Each permit will include a maintenance plan. PBOT staff will create this plan with the applicant. The plan will define regular trail maintenance tasks, and who performs each task.

Construction Day & Ongoing Maintenance

After submitting the application, engaging your community, and designing the trail, you’ve finally made it to construction day! It's time to build or make updates to your permitted trail. Once this is completed, please send us photos and notify us of the completion of the project. We will then conduct a post-construction assessment.