Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Skidmore Bluffs

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A few pics of a secret little spot up in North Portland, a park the city calls Mocks Crest Property, and everyone else calls the Skidmore Bluffs [map].

The park's a small grassy area atop high cliffs overlooking the Willamette. To the south you can see part of downtown Portland. Directly below, you get a great view of the Union Pacific railyards if you're into that sort of thing, and to the north you can see parts of Swan Island and industrial North Portland. Further to the west, across the river, are the green hills of Forest Park. It's quite a view. Great place for a picnic, or to watch the sunset, or take pictures, or just hang out, etc. I didn't check to see if there's WiFi here, because that would be too geeky even for me. So ymmv if you show up with a laptop and expect to work on your PowerPoint slides or whatever. And if you'd rather work on your sales presentation than enjoy the view, why would you go to the trouble to get here, anyway?

skidmore bluffs

I didn't tinker with the colors in photo #2 here. It really is that green, at least in the right light, during the right time of year.

A small sign at the park says it was purchased with Metro Greenspace money in 1995, and the parks website says the city's owned it since '98. The city hasn't done a lot with the place in the short time it's owned it, but that's fine. Leave it like it is. No railings please. They block the view, and all they do is protect stupid people from gravity. If you haven't realized by now that falling off of stuff from a great height is bad, it's time for you to go, that's all I'm saying.


If I was going to add anything at all to the place, maybe a trail to the bottom via one of the gullies bordering the park to the north or south. Or even better, possibly a steep, vertigo-inducing set of stairs. That would be fairly awesome, actually.

skidmore bluffs

skidmore bluffs

skidmore bluffs

You can see the hillside's been neatly trimmed up, probably so the brush won't catch on fire later in the summer. I have no clue how they do this. All I know is that you couldn't pay me enough.

So here are a few comments about the place from out on the interwebs. You'll notice that everyone says the place is top secret insider info (although they posted on the net to say so). So shhhh, don't tell anyone. I don't want to spoil anyone's fun, of course, but I figured it'd be OK to post about the place here since nobody reads this humble blog anyway. Beside, I'm just repeating stuff that was already out there on the net, and posting a few photos. It's not like it was that secret, really. And what could really happen anyway? It's a small park in a quiet neighborhood, it's not like it'll suddenly be overrun by buses full of Japanese tourists or "active seniors". And unless someone proposes building an ultra-luxury condo tower next door, which is highly unlikely, the place isn't going to be on the parks bureau's radar for the foreseeable future. So don't worry, it's all good.

The Dirt Cheap Guide calls the place "Mocks Crest Park":

Little known to the public, this small park in North Portland's Overlook neighborhood offers sweeping views of industrial districts (Union Pacific Railyards, Swan Island, and the Northwest Industrial District), bridges (Fremont Bridge, St Johns Bridge, and Railroad Bridge), West Hills neighborhoods (Hillside, Kings Hill, Washington Park, Council Crest, and Marquam Hill), downtown, the Willamette River, and miles of Forest Park. Mocks Crest Park isn't on most maps and isn't mentioned by the parks and recreation dept, so this is insider knowledge. And it's panoramic for sure. The view at night of all those lights is also serious (I imagine the sunset would be good since you're facing southwest).

Mocks Crest Park is at the dead end of N Skidmore Terrace.

The Zinester's Guide to Portland once described it:

We haven’t included this li’l gem of a park in previous editions because we were jealous and preferred it to be our li’l secret. Well, what is popularly known as the “Skidmore Bluffs” is not so secret anymore. This is basically a patch of grass at the west end of Skidmore, sitting on Mocks Crest, the bluff overlooking the Willamette River below. You won’t find softball fields or rose gardens here, just some of the best views in Portland. You’ll have downtown and Forest Park on the opposite bank, and the industrial riverside areas and UP’s Albina train yard directly below (which explains why this spot is popular with the hobos). It’s a great spot to watch the sun set over the West Hills and contemplate life.

And a review on Yelp says:

Portland purists may be disappointed that I'm letting the cat out of the bag about one of Portland's best green spaces to watch a sunset and hang out with friends while overlooking the industrial maze of Swan Island and the west hills across the river. While other popular parks and crannies are widely known (Mount Tabor, Forest Park, Peninsula Park, and Laurelhurst are among my and others' faves), the Skidmore Bluffs is somewhat lesser-known. Therefore, ride your bike up there and bring your camera--the evening light is great for snapping shots of your photogenic friends lazing and laughing together at the Bluffs. To get there, take Skidmore all the way west until it ends. Take right and first immediate left, and you'll end at the Bluffs.

And from a bike forum post:

- go to the skidmore bluffs. from East Broadway, take Williams north to Skidmore.
take a left on skidmore and ride west (toward the river) until you come to the end. take a right and then an immediate left. (skidmore blvd vs. skidmore ave) at the end of the block you'll find the park.
it's an amazing overlook of the city/trainyards/forrest park. I don't think it's an official park because lots of people drink there but there are still benches and such. GREAT at sunset or at night. big bike destination. bring a tallboy and friends.

CafeUnknown just calls it the "Nameless Park", and has a photo of the place.

For a bit more of the unique Skidmore Bluffs vibe, check out "Bluffs, but not bluffing" at Mirror and Shadow.

A couple more photos:

Skidmore Bluffs

This is the "grand" entrance to the park, on Skidmore Ct. (not to be confused with Skidmore Terrace). I'm not sure what was here before the park. Someone's house, maybe?

skidmore bluffs

Cottony bits, caught by the wind. If I believed in magic -- and I'm not saying I do -- I'd say there was a bit of it around here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lovely shots
Charlie White

Anonymous said...

Bit of History on the area. The Park is Slusher Park. I have a photo of the parks dept sign was presented by the neighbors of Ken Slusher, a resident of Skidmore Terrace. His battle to keep the end and gully of Skidmore Terrace free from development during the early 70's raised awareness of the need for the City of Portland to own and secure the area from development. In the photo, neighbors who live on Skidmore Terrace are shown with Ken holding the parks department sign. The Sign was installed on Skidmore Terrace and remained there for many years until it was stolen by vandals. It was never replaced. Photo available on request.

Bob Slusher

adventure! said...

Interesting. Never knew about the "Slusher Park" name.

And yep, this place is by no means a secret anymore. I went through there a week or so again on a nice night. At least 200 people there, to venture a guess. Guess we'll have to find another spot...