On August 31, the Port of Hood River and community partners celebrated the completion of the Waterfront Trail with a ribbon cutting ceremony presented by the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce at the Nichols Basin Trail plaza. With final segments recently finished, the long-desired continual paved pedestrian path on the shoreline is a reality.
Dozens of representatives from partnering organizations joined Port of Hood River Commissioners and staff for the festivities. Partners include:
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD)
Oregon Dept. of Transportation (ODOT)
Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District
City of Hood River
Hood River Waterfront Park Committee
Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association
Best Western Plus Hood River Inn
Hampton Inn & Suites
Congressman Greg Walden
Senator Ron Wyden
Port Commissioner Rich McBride, acting as master of ceremonies, recognized numerous accomplishments over a 45-year period that contributed to a continuous, paved pedestrian and bicycle path from northwest end of The Hook to the east end of the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn property. “It’s perseverance,” he said, thanking all involved, “Perseverance is what gets these things done.” The Waterfront Trail is comprised of several sections that connect around two-and-a-half miles of pathways, each completed at various times over the decades.
The first segments appeared in 1980 after the completion of Port Marina Park, nearby Port-owned buildings, and The History Museum. The Hood River Inn’s shoreline path was developed in 1988. The Event Site, constructed in the early 1990s, contributed sidewalks in its plan. In the late ‘90s, community members worked with the City and Port to create and expand the Pedestrian Access Way (PAW) at the Marina and waterfront. In 2000, the path from the Pedestrian Bridge to downtown Hood River was added. More Marina Park segments were added in 2002 along with landscaping improvements. The PAW moniker was later replaced with Waterfront Trail, although each project portion often used specific identifying names. Waterfront Park’s first phase included its path sections, completed in 2008. Two more sections developed by the Port of Hood River the following year connected the Event Site, Waterfront Park, and The Hook. In 2015-2016, four final, crucial segments were completed: Nichols Basin Trail, improved sections from the Pedestrian Bridge to Marina, The Hook Trail, and the walkway north of Hampton Inn & Suites from Nichols Basin Trail to the Pedestrian Bridge.
Over the years many grants were awarded for specific segments of the Waterfront Trail, with the most significant contributions coming from OPRD and ODOT. “The Waterfront Trail efforts have been such a collaboration of so many organizations, from government agencies to businesses and volunteer associations,” remarked Port Waterfront Coordinator Liz Whitmore. “All these important efforts add up to a magnificent community asset and usage is increasing tremendously.”
Not only does the trail network encourage exercise and recreation, it also provides safe, non-motorized access to various points. Another benefit is enhanced economic development through increased inter-connectivity in the recreational, light industrial and commercial zones, as well as to other parts of Hood River.