Portland, OR. Thousands of water lovers of all ages took a dip in the Willamette River for the 7th annual Big Float, hosted by the Human Access Project. Participants launched from “Poet’s Beach” which is on the west bank under Marquam Bridge and take out was at the Tom McCall Bowl south of the Hawthorne Bridge. After the float people gathered for a summer beach party, including a music barge with live bands.

It’s a competition with bragging rights to come up with the most colorful floats and costumes.

It's a competition with bragging rights on the line to come up with the most colorful floats and, in this case, hats to boot!

This is the first year floaters were able to enjoy the new and improved Poet’s Beach. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler opened the beach on July 12th in an effort to reconnecting people to the Willamette River in downtown Portland. The Mayor dedicated $158,040 to implement a temporary swimming beach pilot program for summer 2017 at Poet’s Beach. Here are some details:

Poet’s Beach at a Glance

  • Program duration: July 12 through September 4, 2017.
  • Poet’s Beach is a sandy shore with river access, and an in-water swimming area delineated with a swim line and floats.
  • Water depth is shallow in the area of Poet’s Beach.
  • On-land amenities include: picnic tables; trash cans; bicycle racks; signage; life jacket borrowing station; and portable toilets.
  • Specialized river rescue lifeguards will staff the site 7 days/week.
  • Lifeguard hours are from 11:00 AM-7:00 PM
  • PP&R Beach hosts will be at the site 7 days/week, welcoming guests, orienting them to the site, and collecting usage data. Hours and shifts are to be determined.

Map of Poet's Beach

Getting to Poet’s Beach

Poet’s Beach is in South Waterfront Park, on the west side of the Willamette River and just north of the I-5 Marquam Bridge.

  • Walk, roll, or bicycle along the South Waterfront Park Trail. Bicycle racks are available at Poet’s Beach for short-term use.
  • If taking public transportation, the nearest Portland Streetcar stop is SW River Parkway and Moody Avenue. The nearest TriMet bus stops are 35 and 36
  • If driving, the nearest road intersection is SW River Parkway and Moody Avenue. Paid vehicle parking is available in the area.

View a larger map of Poet’s Beach

Here’s a video from last year’s Big Float:

From the Human Access Project HAP:

The Human Access Project vision is simple:  a city in love with its river. This grassroots not-for-profit group has three concentric goals: 1) Create a human habitat and more access points along the Willamette River in downtown Portland. 2) Inspire people to get into the Willamette River. 3) Facilitate stewardship of the Willamette River and Watershed.