Elizabeth Caruthers Park

Opened in August, 2011, Elizabeth Caruthers Park is located in the heart of the South Waterfront district. Amenities include a bocce court, walking paths, tables and chairs, and public art. It is also the home of the South Waterfront Farmers Market June-October.

The park is named for Elizabeth Caruthers, an early pioneer woman who was one of the first settlers in the southern part of the young city of Portland. Elizabeth Caruthers was born in Tennessee. In 1816 she married Joe Thomas, and the couple had one son. She later rejected her married name, and in 1847 she and the son, Finice Caruthers, came to Oregon. They settled here on the banks of the river near the abandoned 1842 Johnson cabin. Under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850, they claimed this 640-acre section. Elizabeth died in 1857 and Finice in 1860. Their deaths, without wills or heirs, led to fraudulent claims and litigation, which reached the United States Supreme Court in 1868. There the matter was resolved in a landmark decision ruling that, under the 1850 Donation Act, a woman - married or not - had the same property rights as a man. SW Caruthers Street, SE Caruthers Street, and Caruthers Creek in Marquam Gulch also reflect the family's prominence in the early history of Portland.

OPEN: 5:00 am - midnight
WEBSITE: Elizabeth Caruthers Park


40-Mile Loop and Marquam Trails

The South Waterfront offers instant access to some of Portland’s best hiking and biking trails. Enthusiasts have three easy ways to access area trails:

  • The River Place/Waterfront paths
  • The Springwater Corridor
  • The SW Trails.

All of these hikes are part of the “40-Mile Loop” and the, now more than 140, miles of trails that run along the east and west banks of the Willamette.

40 Mile Loop
Friends of Marquam Nature Park
Portland Parks & Recreation


Ross Island

South Waterfront residents are able to enjoy wildlife unlike any other urban neighborhood in Portland. Located across the Willamette River from Ross Island, it’s easy for residents to see young herons, osprey, and bald eagles nesting. The Audubon Society hosts hikes, regattas, and brewpub talks (Blue Heron Pale Ale), as well as year-round expeditions to Ross Island and the adjacent 140-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge wetland.

Portland Audubon Society



In 2007, a pair of osprey began to make a home in the South Waterfront. Initially located in the north end of the Central District, the pair raised young that year. The following year, the nest had to be removed as it posed a threat to electrical equipment.

The osprey won the hearts of the community and members of the community pulled together to find a long-term solution. South Waterfront residents, PacifiCorp, Zidell Marine, Williams and Dame Developers, Audubon Society, the City of Portland, the South Waterfront Nature & Greenspaces Committee, Hoffman Construction, the South Waterfront Dog Park, and South Waterfront Community Relations have all contributed to finding a home for the osprey.

In 2009, Zidell Marine fabricated a new nesting platform and for two years (2009-2010), the osprey were located on Zidell property.

With the South Waterfront Greenway construction project underway, the osprey platform needed to be moved once more. The South Waterfront Dog Park took over ownership of the platform, and Portland Parks & Recreation issued a temporary permit so that the platform could be placed on the north end of the Greenway for the 2011 season.

When the Greenway is complete the platform will be located on the north end of the Greenway. There will also be a nesting platform on the south end of the Greenway atop one of the dolphins in the Willamette River.

Portland Audubon Society


Nature & Greenspace Committee

The Nature & Greenspaces Commitee is composed of South Waterfront residents with an interest in preserving and enhancing the neighborhood's natural elements. Providing a comphensive balance between green buildings and green landspace is an important effort for this community. Nature & Greenspaces has been instrumental in shaping Elizabeth Caruthers Park and the South Waterfront Greenway, among other projects. The group is focused on bringing vital information concerning our local environment to the neighborhood via lectures, discussions, and debates. Resident Jim Luke is Board Chairman.

Interested parties are encouraged to join the committee. Contact Chairman Jim Luke at jim@lukeonline for more information.


Wildlife Restoration

Development of the South Waterfront neighborhood also includes plans to provide and restore habitat for wildlife. The plants in the bioswales, ecoroofs, gardens, and parks provide shelter and food for birds. These plants benefit both the native and migratory birds that pass through South Waterfront. Treatment of all storm water will help restore the health of the Willamette; plans to lessen the Greenway riverbank grade and provide improved plant cover along the shoreline will also benefit local salmon.

Portland Audubon Society
Willamette River Keeper