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Johnson Creek is the only free-flowing creek system on the east side of Portland, Oregon. It starts in the hills above Boring, Oregon, 24 miles from its confluence with the Willamette. It is spring fed and so, unlike other watersheds on the eastside of Portland, Johnson Creek is unaffected by snow melt from Mt. Hood.

Until recently Johnson Creek was much maligned or ignored. Associated with flooding and pollution problems there were few people who saw its potential as an amenity for the urban and suburban areas it passes through. But watershed activists like Steve Johnson have struggled for twenty years to raise community awareness of the important role that Johnson Creek plays in preserving fish and wildlife habitat as well as its potential for providing a wild respite for urban dwellers to enjoy and learn about nature.

Johnson Creek industrial

Johnson Creek begins in a rural area but soon hits the SE suburbs of Portland. On its way to the Willamette it flows through some heavily industrialized landscapes with an occasional respite through protected parkland on the southern edge of the city. This stretch of the creek is less than a mile from its confluence with the Willamette. The view is from a new bridge that will connect two segments of the Springwater Corridor, a bicycle path that starts in close-in SE Portland across the Willamette from downtown, follows the river for four miles and then heads east along Johnson Creek to Boring. This bridge is one of three bridges opening in the fall of 2006 that finish the connection between the Wiillamette River and Johnson Creek portions of the trail.

Looking south from the bridge you can see how industrialized the creek corridor is for much of its last five miles through Portland.

Johnson Creek Pastoral

But looking south, toward town you get a pastoral view. At sunset you can watch flocks of flickers catching bugs and getting ready to settle down for the evening. A wonderfully peaceful and wild spot just yards away from industry and noise.

evacuation point


Tucked beyond this parking lot and "evacuation point" sign is the creek, struggling the reach a stretch with wider set backs and less pollution.


Johnson Creek Park in the Sellwood neiughborhood of SE Portland is a small natural preserve at the confluence of Johnson Creek and its tributary Crystal Springs (which starts on the Reed College campus about three miles upstream). This nature park has been the beneficiary of habitat restoration work over the past couple decades and this family of ducks is enjoying the fruits of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council's efforts.


The Johnson Creek Watershed Council has played a big role in helping restore the health of Johnson Creek. The Watershed Council is showing people living in the watershed how to love the creek and protect it as an important natural resource.