I have not always been a runner, and there was a time when I was not aware what running could do for me. I did not understand that taking in the sights and sounds that nature offers could invigorate and relax me at the same time. Those of us who live in Clark County are extremely blessed to have the opportunity to run in such a breathtaking area. I have discovered many beautiful places through my running journey, and I am excited to share them with you.
One of my favorite places to run is on the Vancouver Waterfront, known as the Waterfront Renaissance Trail. This five-mile run connects Esther Short Park to Wintler Park and contains not only breathtaking views but many pieces of art along the way. The route is paved and great for runners, walkers, and rollerbladers. The views are stunning, and on a clear day you can see Mount Hood and the Columbia River with views of both the I-205 and I-5 bridges. Along the trail you will see landmarks and statues. When I run on the trail I like to pause and look at the 700-pound, seven-foot tall statue of Illchee, a beautiful Chinook woman. The statue, given to Vancouver in 1994, serves as a tribute to the Chinook people who lived at the mouth of the Columbia River for thousands of years..
As I continue on the trail I pause at the Wendy Rose statue which represents women going to work in the factories during World War II. She is made of welded metal and has a red polka dot scarf made from glass. This 10-foot by 5-foot sculpture celebrates men and women who worked at Vancouver’s Kaiser shipyards during World War II.
After I have run the Renaissance Trail I often head over to one of my other favorite places, the Discover Loop Trail, also known as the Land Bridge Trail. This trail is directly across from the Whoo Song and Larry’s parking lot. The Land Bridge goes over SR-14 and leads to the historic Fort Vancouver. It has a slight incline, and when you get to the top you can see stunning views of Mount Hood as well as a log cabin just outside of Fort Vancouver. The trail is a 2.5-mile loop that takes you past Fort Vancouver, the Pierson Air Museum, Providence Academy and Esther Short Park. Learn more about Fort Vancouver in this ClarkCountyTalk article.
In a different part of town, I love running the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. On this beautiful eight-mile trail I run near woods, ponds, streams and more. I like to enter on Andresen and 18th Street and run in either direction. This trail has a variety of landscapes from grasslands to heavily wooded areas. It is a paved trail that is perfect for walkers, bikers, joggers and more. Often, there are also views of majestic Mount Hood. I get lost in the sounds and sights of nature and can run for miles.
If you are adventurous and want something completely different and a bit of a challenge, you can run on the Glenn Jackson Bridge (I-205 Bridge) that connects Washington and Oregon. This two-mile run takes you from under the bridge to a paved path. The entrance is on 23rd and Ellsworth, hidden at the end of 23rd on a dead-end street. There are guard rails on the bridge to make sure you remain safely away from the traffic. The noise is overwhelmingly loud, so do not think you will be able to hear your music or talk to your running partner. But, the noise is worth it as you gaze to the east and see another exquisite view of Mount Hood. In addition, the views of the Columbia River are spectacular as you continue your adventure. When you exit the bridge, you will be on Marine Drive, a terrific place to run in Oregon.
Finally, there is the picturesque trail at Salmon Creek Greenway. These 850 acres of wetlands opened to the public in 1996. This is a three-mile paved trail that goes from Lake River in Felida to Klineline Pond in Salmon Creek. Streams and woods surround you as you venture down the trail. One of the things I love is that there are distance markers painted on the pavement every quarter of a mile. Many wild creatures live along the trail as well, including birds, deer, coyotes, rabbits, opossums, raccoons and beavers. What I love is being free in nature, forgetting my worries and feeling the rhythm of my pounding feet.
You do not have to be a runner to enjoy the beautiful places that Clark County offers. You can walk, bike or even stroll along. But, if you want to become a runner, you are in the right place to get started, because the enticing views of nature will help encourage you on your journey.