Sauvie Island is the largest island in Oregon just off of Portland in the Columbia River. Within Sauvie Island is an island on Sturgeon Lake, which has been established as a wilderness area that is popular amongst bird watchers. The south end of the island features views of the Forest Park Hills, while from the north side you can see Mt. Adams and St. Helens in Washington. The island is covered in flora and fauna with large oak trees. The island also features many beaches, including a clothing-optional section in the Collins Beach area. There is also a hike that leads to the Warrior Rock Lighthouse.
Wildlife areas of Sauvie Island are open daily from 4 am until 10 pm, with certain wildlife areas closed off depending on the time of year. Activities on Sauvie Island include: hunting, fishing, bird-watching, hiking, trapshooting, foraging, photography, and canoeing. Parking in the wild life areas of Sauvie Island require an island parking pass.
Most Portlanders know Sauvie Island for its beaches, but exploring the island through hiking can be rewarding as well. Two hiking options are the Wapato Access Greenway, a 2-mile loop around Virginia Lake, and the Warrior Point Hike, a 7-mile out-and-back hike to the island’s Warrior Rock Lighthouse.
The Wapato Access Greenway trailhead is off of N.W. Sauvie Island Road 2.5 miles north of the Sauvie Island Bridge. From the small parking lot, a path takes you to a picnic shelter where a trail forks around either side of Virginia Lake. Take a right and hike through a meadow with large Oregon white oaks. The trail heads southeast soon, as it follows along the Multnomah Channel. At the end the trail turns into a gravel path before coming to a fork; stay left to complete the loop. Head right to hike to Hadley’s Landing, a dock which includes picnic tables and a bathroom.
The trailhead for the 7-mile Warrior Point Hike is unmarked and just beyond Collins Beach. Walk north along Collins Beach until you find the singletrack pedestrian trail through the brush at the end of the beach. From here move through a black cottonwood forest; pants and boots are recommended to protect you from stinging nettles. There are several intersecting dirt roads and side trails leading to numerous small ponds and shorelines. Just continue north along the main trail to reach the lighthouse and a very small beach section along the north end of the island. Enjoy the view, the lighthouse, and watching the ships pass before heading back the way you came.
Sauvie Island is home to the Warrior Rock Lighthouse, one of only two Oregon lighthouses still operating that are not along the Pacific Ocean. U.S. Congress authorized the site for the lighthouse in 1888. It was constructed in 1889 as a small, wood frame building with a living quarters below, an oil lamp beacon light with lens, and a hand-cranked fog bell. The goal of the lighthouse was to warn of a bedrock reef projecting into the Columbia from the east tip of the island. The fog bell was cast in 1855 in Philadelphia and first used at Cape Disappointment Light and then the West Point Light in Seattle until being installed at Warrior Rock in 1889. In 1969 the lighthouse was struck by a barge, damaging the foundation and disabling the light and bell. Today the lighthouse operates with an automatic beacon and fog bell.
Sauvie Island also features historical areas of Fort William, a fur-trading outpost established in 1834, and the Bybee-Howell House, a two story house constructed in the mid-19th century Classical Revival architecture style. By the time of the house’s construction and the Fort William Outpost was developed, it is estimated more than 90% of the native inhabitants of the area had been wiped out by disease and violence brought with the original white settlers.