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Fanno Creek Trail (Update)
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Fanno Creek TrailWhat’s to Love: (2012) Since first publishing this article, the major sections of the Fanno Creek Trail have been connected.  You can read more about this here.  Also, take a look at the new trail map here.

After living here for the past 9 years and being an avid city biker, I can honestly say that Portland does deserve its reputation as one of the best biking cities in the country, if not the world. However, the more I start to bike with my 4 year old son, the more I realize that much of the best kid-friendly-biking exists outside the city limits. Sorry Portland, but the network of paved paths within the Tualatin Hills Recreation District rivals anything within Portland proper. Certainly, Vancouver, WA is also providing an impressive array of biking paths for its young bikers and families.

Fanno Creek TrailThe Fanno Creek Trail is part of the the Tualatin Hills’ network of paved biking paths, and it’s well worth the drive from Portland. The Fanno Creek Trail is in two sections (Electric Railroad section and the Greenway section) that are divided by some busy roads (i.e., it’s not convenient to do them at the same time). Both sections are each under 2 miles. So, if you do them both at the same time (out and back), you’ll ride between 6 and 8 miles total.

Connector bridge on The Fanno Creek TrailWe chose to do them at the same time, and it was definitely a challenge finding the best way to link them up. I do my best in the video clip to describe our route, but you should consult Portland’s bike map, or check-out Tualatin Hills Recreation maps online.

Sure, we rode near some homes and busy roads, but the Fanno is a sweet trail! It appears to be in almost new condition (i.e., no washboard, root-bumps, cracks, weeds or grass, etc.). The surface is a smooth ride, and it’s plenty wide for all types of traffic. It’s flat 90% of the ride and can be ridden by even a beginning rider with training wheels. I have found the folks on the trail to be very friendly to kids and parents.

While playstructures, basketball courts, and even a Frisbee golf course are peppered throughout the route, the second section (Greenway) of the Fanno has an “adult” playstructure – something that I’ve never seen. If you venture onto this gear, be prepared for a serious workout. Here are a couple clips of the Fanno Creek Trail:

Electric Railroad Section – Fanno, Part


Greenway Section – Fanno, Part 2

Green Space along the Fanno Creek Trail (Greenway Section)Caveats: While the Tualatin Recreation District should be proud of their efforts, most of these paved-paths lack connectors; thus, riders are forced onto busy streets and intersections if they want to connect the trails. Hopefully, planners will be able to connect some of these trails into loops, which would make the network even better.

More crosswalks please! Also, it would be nice to have some porta-potties setup along the trail, especially if the goal is to attract young children and families.

Website: Fanno Creek updated map 2012

Distance from Portland: Within 10 miles of downtown Portland. The Electric Railroad section starts at the Garden Home Recreation Center (Click for map). The Greenway section is off SW Hall Blvd between SW Creekside Place and SW Greenway Blvd. Here is a map of that area.

Recommended Ages: This is a great trail for all ages. It’s perfect for young bikers and/or parents looking for a casual stroller-walk.

Parental Stress Factor: If you’re hiking and there isn’t much traffic, you’ll have a pretty low stress outing. If you’re biking with kids and crossing traffic via busy streets, the stress level gets bumped-up to high!

Physical Difficulty: This is flat terrain and not difficult at all. It’s a good trail for accessibility issues.

Family Fun Factor: Depends on the activities…your family could turn this into a biking/Frisbee Golf outing with a picnic, basketball and playstructure activity. In that case, the Family Fun Factor is high. If you’re biking, the trail is very mellow, so the fun factor is medium.

Pet Friendly: Dogs on leashes.

Weather Considerations: Because of the Frisbee Golf option, this is definitely a year round trail, even for biking.

Adult Playstructure - Core Fit Fanno Creek Trail (Greenway Section)Insider Info: The basketball courts we passed had a single basket with a low, vertical-height. This makes it the perfect basket for kids ages 3 – 10. You’ll have to study the biking maps carefully to link-up these two trails; however, I think it’s worth the trouble.

Playstructure on Fanno Creek Trail near Scholl’s Ferry RoadFamily Tips: Frisbee Golf anyone? I’ve played this many times, but the goals were just trees in the distance. This course has actual “goals” where one must land the Frisbee. There is plenty of space to play, but make sure your kids are aware of other trail users.

There are benches along the way, if you want to stop for some snacks, but picnic benches are scarce. There is some nice open green-space, so plan on bringing a blanket along for a picnic in the grass.

Because the trail is in such excellent shape, any stroller will work fine on the Fanno.

Technorati Tags: Fanno Creek, biking, trail, Frisbee Golf, core fit playstructure, kids, Tualatin Hill Recreation District

Other Posts of Interest...

Willamette Park on April 19th, 2008

Springwater Corridor/Eastbank Esplanade on February 17th, 2008

Abernethy - Playground on November 20th, 2007


  1. The lack of Porta-Potties is a problem. We park in the Albertson’s parking lot so we make sure the kids hit the bathroom there before going out!

  2. The two sections of this trail were connected in 2012!….

    • Thanks for the information! I haven't been on the trail lately, so I had no idea. We'll have to make it out there for another family ride.

  3. I thought Portland was the king of paved trails until I went to Kansas City and rode three paved trails, Indian Creek which travels for nearly 30 miles, Gary L. Hailer trail which runs almost 20 miles and Tomahawk Creek,12 miles in length. (Tomahawk and Indian Creek actually meet which brings the total length to over 40 miles in trail.) All three of them run through wooded parks and shaded neighborhoods and with the exception of the last few miles of Indian Creek these paths have no breaks anywhere. One can ride miles and miles WITHOUT stopping for traffic or crossing a road. Fanno Creek and Springwater Corridor trails pale in comparison. The people in charge of trails in Portland might want to check out Johnson County Parks and Rec in KANSAS of all places to see how they do it. Just a suggestion. Happy riding!

    • Thanks for the comments! Yes, I agree that some of the paved trails here are a bit overrated, but at the end of the day, you're in Portland…not Kansas. 🙂

  4. That is best part of your picnic. Having rest after lots of fun is required if you want to recharge yourself. And if the rest is in electric blanket then it will me more comfortable in winter season only.


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