The Forest Park Trail Bridges project restored and enhanced trail access and enjoyment for park users by replacing three deteriorating bridges with a unique, beautiful, and cost-effective modular bridge design that was sized appropriately for each stream crossing.

Why does this project matter?

The project restored trail access to hikers that was temporarily limited by damaged and aging bridges. The new bridges protect the sensitive riparian environment by providing sustainable trail crossings, overlook areas, and a new durable water access point in an area that had been trampled by over-use.

What is ESA doing to help?

Forest Park stretches over seven miles of Northwest Portland along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains and includes over 5,100 wooded acres. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) maintains more than 70 miles of trails within the park. ESA led a team to design and permit three backcountry trail bridges in Forest Park and Macleay Park for PP&R. We developed an iconic and unique modular bridge design that could be transported into sensitive environmental areas with limited impacts. ESA collaborated closely with PP&R staff to develop the bridge design, identify construction access routes, design new trail connections, restore riparian vegetation, and repair a trampled area along Balch Creek with a new, durable, water access point. As part of the iterative design process, our team fabricated a full-scale mock-up of a bridge section. PP&R staff, along with the team, carefully reviewed the mock-up in a collaborative meeting and identified important design elements to fine-tune for the final design.

In addition to civil engineering and landscape architecture design efforts, ESA’s environmental staff prepared a Type II Environmental Review application package for a City land use review, due to the project’s location within an Environmental Protection overlay zone and within an area regulated by the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan. We also prepared applications to obtain Section 404 permit coverage from the USACE for in-water project elements and prepared a historic/archaeological resources report to facilitate agency reviews of potential to impact Section 106 NHPA resources.

Testimonials icon

"This project resulted in an iconic and durable backcountry bridge design that celebrates the landscape of Forest Park. The bridges are designed to be easily replicated as other bridges in the park need replacement."

Hunter White, ESA Project Manager


Client City of Portland Parks & Recreation

Location Portland, OR


2018 Portland Small Project Honor Award Winner


2019 American Institute of Architects National Small Project Award Winner


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