The 40-Mile Loop was originally proposed in 1904 by
the Olmsted Brothers (Frederick Law, Jr. and John Charles, sons of
Frederick Law Olmstead) who were brought to Portland from Boston to
propose a park system as part of the planning for the Lewis and
Clark Centennial Exposition and World's Fair.
Parks should be connected and approached by
boulevards and parkways...They should be located and improved to
take advantages of the beautiful natural scenery. The
above system of scenic reservations, parks and park-ways
and connecting boulevards would...from an admirable park system
for such an important city as Portland is bound to become.
- Landscape Architects
1904 - Portland, Oregon
It was a remarkable, visionary concept then when
the area was still largely meadows and forested hillsides.
Fortunately, city leaders of the time had the foresight to recognize
the importance of parks to a livable community. Though many
outstanding park lands were acquired, linking them was always put
off to the future.
In 1904 the desired linking parkways were to be for
the recreation craze of the time. Sunday drives in carriages
or the newfangled motorized touring car, for those fortunate enough
to have them. Scenic, separated walking or biking paths were to
parallel the boulevards and parkways. As times and tastes
changed, pathways replaced parkways.
That connected system was to be a 40-Mile Loop
encircling the city. The name, 40-Mile Loop stuck, even as the
planned loop trail has lengthened to more than 140 miles to include
all of Multnomah County and to connect more than 30 parks.
Now, a century later the 40-Mile Loop is nearly
complete. The trail connects parks along the Columbia, Sandy,
and Willamette Rivers and Johnson Creek in an almost continuous
loop. There is something somewhere along the route for
everyone, whether it is hiking or biking, whether you're in a
stroller or a wheel chair, whether you are skating or boarding or
even horse-back riding or canoeing. The loop includes
accessible trails and nature trails along forest hillsides and
overlooking wetlands and wildlife.
It can be reached by the MAX Light Rail or Tri-Met
buses at many points. It connects to downtown Portland,
Gresham, and Troutdale. It connects major public attractions,
institutions, and campuses. Its proximity makes it easily
usable by neighborhood residents, visitors, students, office and
industrial workers. It is our gateway to and through the
natural, nearby open spaces so basic to the quality of our lives.
Now, a century after being proposed, the 40-Mile loop is nearly
complete. A few missing gaps remain.
It is time to close the gaps. It is time to
complete the 40-Mile Loop.