At this point, it may be hard to ignore the new addition to our urban landscape, the Tilikum Bridge, and with it the new arm of the MAX line, the Orange Line to Milwaukie.
The Tilikum Bridge is the first bridge in Portland in 40 years, and it is the only one of its length in the US that accommodates public transportation, pedestrians, as well as bikers. The Orange Line is also the third addition to the MAX network in 11 years.
At the first opportunity, I grabbed my GenZe e-bike and caught the Orange!
The line opened on 9/12 to much excitement and fanfare (see TriMet’s coverage here). With trains from SW 3rd and Lincoln all the way to SE Park in Milwaukie, there is a total of 10 new stops, taking a speedy 27 minutes to get from end to end.
I started at the end of the line. Just west of this stop is the Trolley Trail, a 6 mile trail that served as transport between Milwaukie and Gladstone in the early 1900’s – stay tuned for a blog on this scenic ride.
As I boarded the Orange on Tuesday morning, there was still buzz among passengers about this new addition to the community; the sentiment was positively electric. TriMet has employees staffed at each station through the opening to answer any questions passengers may have. This station is a “Bike and Ride” and has 74 secure bike lockers you can rent in addition to the 28 public bike parking spots. I boarded the train and put my e-bike on the hook. Fit like a glove!
This stop puts you right in historic downtown Milwaukie. There are handful of places to get a coffee and read a book or do some work, but I’d recommend Wind Horse Coffee just off of 99. They pour Café Umbria and have a nice selection of snacks.
If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, there are Milwaukie outposts of the Portland staple Cha! Cha! Cha!, but unique to Miwaukie is Gramma’s Corner, a family run diner with classic breakfast and lunch fare. Prices are fair and portions are generous.
As a note, there are 12 bike lockers and 36 public spots at the station for securing your e-bike while exploring.
SE TACOMA/JOHNSON CREEK
With 74 secure bike parking spots, and 34 public, this station is primed to be another hub for the Bike and Ride commuter in SE. After debarking and surveying the land, I realized how close to Sellwood I was. Knowing that, I kept my bike for some old fashioned fun. Biking west on SE Tacoma will take you to the Spring Water Corridor as well as Oaks Park! Get in the mood for some roller-skating, mini golf, and carnival games! If finding your inner child requires some liquid decompression, head to the Muddy Rudder Public House afterward. A healthy selection of whiskey, wine, and beer on tap makes an afternoon drink on the patio quite enjoyable at this Sellwood gem. They have music most nights too.
A hop down to SE 17th from here will get you a purpose driven cup of coffee at Kahveology (they’ve pledged to donate $1m to non-profits by 2025). You can also take a stroll through Westmoreland Park. Its 42 acres have facilities for tennis, baseball, and basketball around a couple of large ponds. On the other side of McLaughlin, between Reed College and the East Moreland Golf Course, is the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. A $4 ticket gets you admission to a landscaped park with flowers, rhododendron and otherwise, around Crystal Springs Lake – great for the amateur bird watcher as well.
SE 17th & HOLGATE
A short jaunt up Holgate will get you a great meal at Bird + Bear. Grab a sandwich and watch the trains as they head toward the river.
SE 17th & RHINE
Two brew houses are a stone’s throw from here – Bushwacker Cider and Lion Heart Kombucha. If you are in the mood for something a bit stronger, heading east you’ll find Stone Barn Brandyworks. All use local ingredients and offer anything along the spectrum of imbibing you may be in the mood for. As usual, there is a park nearby for some relaxing if you’d like!
SE 12th & CLINTON
If anything, I found too much to do here, you can spend the better part of a day in a 10 block radius. North towards Division, there’s breakfast at Genie’s, Ford Food & Drink, or Pine State Biscuits. Check out Longfellow Books, I love our downtown book staple as much as the next person, but Longfellow has been in this neighborhood since 1981, long before businesses were flocking to Division and setting up shop. They have limited hours, so check before you plan to go, so you can enjoy their eclectic selection of used and rare books. Make a stop into Blaqpaks as well, they make all of their bags right on site and can customize a bag for all of your commuting needs. Double Dragon or Los Gorditos will satiate your afternoon hunger, and feel free to order to go and take your meal over to Apex and enjoy one of their 50 beers on tap (as long as you clean up after yourself, bringing food in is welcome). Sound like too many beer choices? Check out their online tap list to plan your beer journey ahead of time.
While a stop here puts you not far from the Water Avenue cluster of bars, restaurants, and coffee – I would be remiss not to mention OMSI! Tour a submarine, catch a movie in one of the most “tech forward” screens in the state, maybe a laser light show at the planetarium, or just peruse the museum itself. Keep an eye on the event calendar for onsite events like OMSI after Dark or offsite events like Science Pub talks.
SOUTH WATERFRONT/SW MOODY
The south waterfront has been the sight of so much construction lately that it is hard to believe there are still gaps when it comes to food and entertainment in the district. Check out Lair Hill Bistro in the interim, or take the tram up Marquam Hill. You can take a leg of the 4T trail from OHSU to the Zoo if you are feeling adventurous – you’ll hit peak elevation at Council Crest for some stunning views of the city.
Which brings us to the end of the Orange Line extension, up on 4th you will find the PSU cart pod with favorites Nongs and The Portland Soup Company. But really from here, Portland is your oyster as pretty much every bus, train, and street car will connect to the rest of your journey.
It was a fun trek on the Orange Line – and I hope I’ve inspired you to check out some new friends to the south. Trimet currently has a scavenger hunt along the Orange Line called O Marks the Spot – so in addition to doing a little research as to what there is to be seen along this new stretch of light rail, you can enter to win a bevy of prizes through the end of this week.
Until next time!