What is the Riverwalk?

The Riverwalk offers public access to intimately experience the continent’s second most powerful waterfall for the first time in over a century. Located on the east side of Willamette Falls in historic Oregon City, the Riverwalk includes a series of explorer trails with incomparable access to the Willamette River, healthy habitats, and public spaces that culminate in an observation platform overhanging the basalt cliffs that make up the Falls. The Riverwalk will bring people and communities together to directly experience, not only the beauty and power of the Falls, but the rich current Native American culture and history, the site’s distinctive function as the cradle of Western innovation, and the bustling site of the Oregon Territory’s former capital.

What is Willamette Falls Trust?

Willamette Falls Trust is a nonprofit organization raising funds and engaging the community to ensure that the new vision for a world-class Riverwalk at the Falls becomes a reality.

 As we steward the collective vision for Willamette Falls, we work closely with Willamette Falls Legacy Project—the public-sector collaboration that kick-started this work—and our other partners, including:

  • Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde

  • Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

  • Confederated Tribes of The Umatilla Indian Reservations

  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

  • Confederated Tribes and Bands of The Yakama Nation

  • Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition

  • Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation

  • Portland General Electric

  • West Linn Paper

  • We Love Clean Rivers

  • Willamette Riverkeeper

  • Rivers of Life

  • Travel Oregon/Mt Hood Territory

  • Downtown Oregon City Association

When does Riverwalk construction begin?

We’re excited to announce that the Riverwalk groundbreaking and construction will begin in 2020. Be the first to get updates about what’s happening by signing up here

When will the project be finished?

Phase One of the Riverwalk is scheduled to open in 2022. The entirety of the Riverwalk is estimated to be complete in 20 years.

What else is planned as part of the Riverwalk project?

The Riverwalk is the first part of a larger transformation to create more accessible public space and places to enjoy the natural beauty of Willamette Falls. 

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Future phases:

Phase 2 (2020-2023) Complete ‘The Yard’:

  • Remove fill

  • Create healthy habitat

  • Construct the pedestrian bridge and Visitor Center

Phase 3 (2023+):

  • Connect 99E to ‘The Yard’ through explorer trails 

  • Connect Mill H to the Hawley Observation Platform via explorer trails

  • Create a natural habitat space inside the Clarifier

  • Permanent parking

The complete vision for Willamette Falls beyond the Riverwalk joins both sides of the river, including an extended Downtown District with restaurants, shops and community spaces at the former Blue Heron Paper Mill site. 

Who is paying for the project?

Willamette Falls Trust is the primary philanthropic organization raising funds to make the new vision for this world-class public destination a reality. The Trust relies on generous donations from people and organizations in the community who work alongside us to champion the vision.  

Willamette Falls Legacy Project—a public partnership of Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon—is the public-sector collaboration that kick-started this work and provided early funding for planning and construction design.

Phase One of the Riverwalk has a fundraising goal of $35M. $19.5M has already been contributed by the Willamette Falls Legacy Project partners. The Trust has taken on raising the remaining $15.5M from private philanthropy and has raised $7M to date.

In June 2019, the Metro Council referred a parks and nature bond measure to greater Portland voters to consider on the November 2019 ballot. The $450 million property tax measure would allocate $20 million to the Willamette Falls Riverwalk project.

What’s happening on the side of the river across from the Riverwalk?

Portland General Electric owns the island on the West Linn side of the Falls, and they have rented the property to paper companies for years. In November 2017, the West Linn Paper Company closed and the papermaking buildings sat empty and unused until June 2019, when PGE entered into a five-year lease with the newly-formed Willamette Falls Paper Company.

PGE still owns and operates the Sullivan Power Plant on the site, the longest running hydropower plant west of the Mississippi.  

Who owns the land around Willamette Falls?

Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde bought the site from Falls Legacy, LLC in August 2019; this includes the land around the planned Riverwalk, including the former Blue Heron Paper Mill site. This change in ownership does not impact the creation of the Riverwalk and the other planned public spaces around the Falls, as an easement securing public access and the creation of public spaces transfers with the land sale.

Portland General Electric currently owns the majority of the land across from the planned Riverwalk on the West side of the river in West Linn.

Who else is involved?

The Riverwalk has the support of Governor Kate Brown, state legislators, local and regional council members, Oregon City, Willamette Falls Locks Commission—and has been designed with input from thousands of Oregonians. 

The project has been strengthened by the participation of the tribes and tribal organizations active on the project:

  • Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde

  • Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

  • Confederated Tribes of The Umatilla Indian Reservations

  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

  • Confederated Tribes and Bands of The Yakama Nation

Willamette Falls Trust remains committed to working closely with sovereign tribal governments to realize a new vision for Willamette Falls, alongside federal, state, regional and local governments and the local community.

How can I get involved?

We’re so glad you asked! There are several ways to get involved:

Donate: Join thousands of other Oregonians in making this historic project a reality.

Sign up for updates: Be the first to get the latest news about Willamette Falls.

Volunteer: We’re currently seeking volunteers to join us on the journey. 

Where do my donations go?

Your donation, together with funds from public and private partners will go directly to honoring the history and funding the future of this iconic place. Your gift supports habitat restoration, recreation opportunities, community events and programming at the Riverwalk for all to enjoy.