Walking Guide to Southwest Portland Cemeteries

First, we describe various walks a pedestrian (sans dog) can make in and through Southwest Portland Cemeteries. Then we talk about the fact that dogs are allowed in one cemetery and cyclists are allowed along one route in another. Pedestrians need to be aware of dogs and bikes. Our aim is to help avoid conflict between these users. Fortunately, bikes & dogs are not allowed in the same places.

References to sources mentioned are collected below the main article.

WALKERS BEWARE: Neither the New Collins View Blog nor any of the cemeteries mentioned herein bear any responsibility for your safety walking in the cemeteries. Mind your step. Walk in fair weather - No gusty winds, snow, or ice! Avoid dog bites and collisions with a cyclists. And remember, at all times you are on private property and roads.

Map of Walks

We marked up this map for the Walking Guide. We aren't going to explain every step you must take. We're counting on you to use your head, read the map, and read the territory.

Cemetery Walking Map, v5 - Based on Open Street Map

Red lines denote walking routes you can take through River View Cemetery (down or up). Blue lines denote the route that Cyclists must take. Yellow circles show places where cyclists and walkers cross paths. Walkers are together with cyclists on the final pitch at the bottom.

Greenwood Hills Cemetery has two connected loops. From the back loop in Greenwood you can go over the I.O.O.F lawn into River View Cemetery. A row of Sycamore trees marks the boundary. The I.O.O.F (Odd Fellows) is a section of River View that was originally part of Greenwood.

Nearby River View Natural Area has a set of primitive trails. Dogs are not allowed in the natural area. See Friends of River View Natural Area Hiking Maps, link below.


Before one can Walk in the Cemeteries, you first have to get to them and get into them. We leave it to the walker to choose a cemetery gate, and a route to it from their home location.

Gates are denoted with 'G' on the map.

Greenwood Hills Cemetery has only one gate on Boones Ferry, but several footpaths enter along Palatine Hill road, and one along Boones Ferry Road at Primrose.

River View Cemetery has four serious gates — two gates along Taylor's Ferry Road, a main upper gate along Palatine Hill Road, and a another main gate on Macadam, at the Sellwood Bridge. The gates along Taylor's Ferry are not particularly Pedestrian Friendly.

The River View Cemetery gate at Macadam is closed to vehicles at ~4 pm to suppress commuter short-cutting. When locked, the gate is passable on foot and with a bike.

Walking in Greenwood Hills Cemetery

Greenwood Hills Cemetery is a nice sized green space that's just right for short walks. You can do one loop, or both, or loop till the cows come home. Greenwood has gentle elevation changes for moderate exercise.

Walking in River View Cemetery

Please leave your dog at home, if you have one.

River View Cemetery is more expansive and can provide a good workout over its 500 ft elevation change from top to bottom. It's possible to walk from the River View upper gate (or Greenwood Hills) and get down to the Sellwood Bridge in about 25 minutes.

Loops passing through River View

At the Bridge, you can cross to Sellwood, or walk north to Iowa Street and use SW Trail #3 to get back up to George Himes Park on Terwilliger. (George Himes' daughter's grave was the first burial in Greenwood Hills.)

It's also possible to walk down through the River View, exit the lower gate on Taylor's Ferry, cross to the Abbey, go down the sidewalk to Fulton Park Blvd, then take the 'Custer Steps' (SW Trails #4) up to Fulton Park and Barbur / Terwilliger Bridge. You can make that Loop in about an hour.

Crossing Taylor's Ferry Road at the Abbey may seem daunting, but it can be done safely if you simply WAIT for a moment when no cars are coming down or coming up the road. Please wait. Mind your steps.

Loops can be done in either direction.

Not Walking in Other Cemeteries

There are three small cemeteries in addition to River View and Greenwood Hills. These cemeteries (Beth Israel, Avahai Shalom, and the G.A.R.) afford no walking opportunities, per se. The Collins View web site describes these small cemeteries, link below.

General Rules for Walking SW Cemeteries

Here's the deal - Bikes are allowed only along a fixed route in River View Cemetery. Dogs are allowed only in Greenwood Hills. No other cemetery allows dogs. It's up to Dog owners to abide by the rules, and up to cyclists to stay on the fixed route.

Please mind your manners while walking through any cemetery. This means no loud voices or boisterous behavior.

The following sections refer to specific cemeteries.

Rules for Greenwood Hills Cemetery (GHC)

Greenwood Hills Cemetery is a wonderful neighborhood green space, owned and maintained by the cemetery's Maintenance Association, and as such is private property. Many people walk to the cemetery from surrounding neighborhoods.

GHC visitors should abide by these basic rules:

Rules for Dogs in Greenwood Hills

Here is a map showing Dog and No Dog areas. Red lines denote approximate cemetery boundaries.

Greenwood Hills Cemetery Dog areas - 2023. This could change!

Note the Cemeteries Adjacent to Greenwood. The G.A.R. cemetery is north of the Greenwood Hills front loop road. Greenwood also shares an invisible boundary with River View Cemetery.

See on the map: No Dogs Allowed in the G.A.R cemetery. River View also has a strict No Dogs Allowed policy.

Greenwood Hills is Not a Dog Park.

Unfortunately, dog owners hear about 'Greenwood' by word-of-mouth, and show up thinking it's a public dog park. This was actually heard from a dog owner: "This isn't a cemetery, it's a dog park!"

Our Response: No, Actually, THIS IS A CEMETERY!

Here are some rules for dog owners in Greenwood Hills:

Dog Owners will not make friends by flaunting the rules — such as by parking in the back loop on the grass ON TOP OF KNOWN GRAVES. Be a Good Dog owner.

If you, as a Dog Owner, do not have voice control over your dog, it should not be off-leash. This is serious — not every one is walking a dog in Greenwood Hills. Many walkers do not appreciate being approached by an unleashed dog.

The Maintenance Association reserves the right to allow or not allow any visitor for any reason.

Walkers: Be aware that some dog owners think Fido is cute the way it runs up to greet a stranger. Walkers should be prepared to either pet the dog, let it lick you, etc, or to overtly shun the dog. The owner should read your body language and try to call the dog off. Good Luck! Carrying a stick or green apple only confuses these doggies. Dog-Shy or frail walkers may want to avoid Greenwood Hills.

Supporting Greenwood Hills

Please consider making a donation if you frequent Greenwood Hills! An annual cleanup event is held prior to Memorial Day. Visit the GHCMA website for more information. Link below.

Rules for River View Cemetery

River View Cemetery is not a public park. It is a busy, working, private cemetery.

Things for walkers to be aware of in River View:

Graveside Services and mourners. Please pass quietly, gently. Tread like an Angel.

All Traffic. Be aware of Staff and visitors driving the roads, processions, bikes, and heavy equipment.

One exception to "Stay to the Right" is going down the two broad blind curves to the right just above the lower gate - it feels safer to walk on the left there, where you can step off onto the mossy shoulder if needed. You'll see.

Processions. Please stand aside (hat off) if you see a funeral procession approaching in the Lane where you are walking. Respectfully allow the procession to pass before continuing. It only takes a moment.

Bikes. Be aware of cyclists traveling down through cemetery. Cyclists are confined to an agreed upon marked route. Circles with directional arrows show the way. Those lanes are shown in blue on the map. You can avoid using those lanes, except the final pitch down to the Sellwood bridge. You can also share the road with cyclists.

Tractors. Be aware of Back-Hoes and Front-Loaders using the roads, mostly during business hours. Move aside when you hear them coming!

Gators. Groundskeepers zip around from one job to the next all day in their little utility vehicles (aka Gators). Move aside when you hear them coming!

Groundskeepers. Seasonally you will find that mowing, sprinkling, leaf blowing, trimming around gravestones, and so on, may affect your walking experience. Once you learn the sections and lanes, you can often chose a route that avoids work crews.

Dogs. Dogs are not allowed in River View Cemetery, anywhere.

Rules for Dogs in River View Cemetery

Pets are not allowed in River View Cemetery, anywhere.

Dogs are NOT allowed in River View Cemetery, even on leash.

This means you, Dog. Did we mention that Dogs are Not allowed in River View Cemetery?

Rules for Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery

The G.A.R. Cemetery is a Metro pioneer cemetery.

No pets are allowed on the G.A.R property. Don't stand on the access road, and toss your dog's ball into the G.A.R. Sorry. It's your DOG that is not allowed in the GAR.


Editor's Note

Many combinations of lanes can be composed for a variety of walks within the two cemeteries. Back roads and shortcuts are not explored here. We leave them to you, the walker, to discover on your own. The 'Graves' section of the blog has some interesting stories.

Most dog owners are responsible. Others think they can get away without picking up the poop, or park wherever they want. It's an unfortunate waste of time and energy for us to enforce simple rules. If things get worse, the dog option may disappear, which would be a shame because many of the dog owners contribute financially to the Maintenance Fund. Same with cyclists - a few bad ones spoil it for everyone.

A conflict between dog-owners and a (River View) Cemetery visitor came up on Nextdoor in Fall 2022. The Dog Area map was made quickly to aid discussion of the adjacent space. The dog map was not published on the blog or posted in the cemetery. SW Trails noticed the discussion, and asked that we write something more definite about walking thorough SW cemeteries with or without dogs, and so on. It has taken months to get around to it.

The rules were established by River View and Greenwood Hills Cemetery boards.

Walks were suggested by the Terrain of the Lanes.

The River View Cemetery bike route is an agreement between River View cemetery and cyclists via Bike Portland years ago. The bike route avoids both the Office/Chapel parking lot and the maintenance shop — Too much activity in these areas to have bikes bombing through. See a Bike Portland article in References, which links to several previous articles on the subject.

River View Natural Area has only primitive hiking trails -- accessed via the 'Hub" off of Palatine Hill Road at Brugger. Trails go down to Macadam and Powers Marine Park. RVNA trails are not a good route to the Sellwood Bridge! Dogs are not allowed in RVNA, a rule unfortunately ignored by some nearby neighbors.

Photos and maps by J Miller. Editor J Miller.

Questions for Our Readers

Comments submitted on this article

Comments will appear here — To be curated from Nextdoor, then posted a week or so after article is published. (At this time, we don't support commenting directly on the blog.)

Comment on Nextdoor: Thank you! As someone who has found Greenwood Hills to be a refuge these last few years for myself and my dog, and have great grandparents and grandparents resting at River View, I appreciate your sharing how we can all appreciate these spaces respectfully.

Comment in email: Amazing work. Wow!

Comment in email: This is WONDERFUL!!!! OMG! I can't thank you enough!!!!

Comment in email: Very impressive piece of work.

How this Blog Post should be (was) described on Social Media

We have put together a Guide for Walking in SW Portland Cemeteries. The guide offers two routes down through River View Cemetery, one to the Sellwood Bridge, the other to Fulton Park Blvd. The guide also has a map showing where dogs are allowed in Greenwood Hills Cemetery, with rules about dogs.

Here are examples some of the Rules in the Guide.