It's a beautiful morning in Eugene, Oregon and I'm anxious to get outdoors for some fresh air and exercise. Fortunately I don't have to drive far to enjoy seeing wildlife and verdant landscapes. Where should I go?
Alton Baker Park
I could walk around Alton Baker Park, Eugene's largest park, with 373 city-owned acres to explore. There are usually ducks, Canadian geese, and other birds to see. A popular trail follows the bank of the Willamette River that flows through the city.
There are large ramadas to have a picnic, a Nobel Peace Laureate Project to see, the famous Pre's Trail to run on, and the Whilamut Natural Area to wander through. Last time I was there I even discovered a Mother's Against Drunk Driving Memorial Garden that I never knew existed.
Or I could go to Delta Ponds within walking distance of Valley River Center, Eugene's largest shopping center. Delta Ponds was originally part of the Willamette River's floodplains. In the 1950s and '60s the area was part of a sand and gravel operation. The City purchased the property and developed it as a wildlife riparian area. There are many birds to see and a trail with several short bridges to help traverse the shoreline. A pedestrian bridge just south of the ponds spans the nearby Delta Highway and offers a good elevated location for pictures.
Golden Gardens Park
Perhaps I should stroll through Golden Gardens Park in west Eugene. I wrote about this park in a post titled A Quarry Where Children Drowned Becomes A Nature Park. It doesn't take long to walk around the three ponds and it's a peaceful place except for the sound of the occasional plane landing at the nearby city airport and the honking of geese flying overhead.
Maybe I'll head to southeast Eugene near the University of Oregon campus and hike one of the many trails through the woods in Hendricks Park. This is the City's oldest park. I can walk among 200-year-old Douglas fir trees, ferns, wildflowers and over 6,000 varieties of rhododendrons and other ornamental plants.
The Rhododendron Garden is beautiful anytime of year, but especially in the springtime when everything is in bloom. I've even seen wild turkey wandering through occasionally.
It's hard to believe that I'm in the heart of Oregon's third most populous city. Spring and fall are especially nice times to visit. For those of you who can't visit in person, take a video tour instead.
Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System
How about going for a jog on the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Trail System? Miles of paved paths and multi-use trails border the Willamette River and connect Eugene to nearby Springfield's 29 miles of dedicated bike routes. Eugene's 12 mile section runs through several beautiful parks. Five pedestrian / bike bridges connect both sides of the river.
It's a popular place for joggers, walkers, bicyclists, dog walkers, families and friends to enjoy nearby nature anytime of year.
If these choices aren't enough for you, Eugene has several trail systems with maps to help you find your way.
These five places to discover in Eugene are just a sample of the many things there are to see and do here. Not to mention the seemingly unending places within an easy 60-90 minute drive in any direction. Residents know they are fortunate to live here.
Rick Obst is an Arizona native who moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2005 and fell in love with the verdant Pacific Northwest. He enjoys photography and discovering the many people, places, and events that make this part of the world so special.
To learn more about Eugene, Lane County, and western Oregon, visit 365 and More Things to do in Lane County, Oregon on Facebook. You'll see hundreds of pictures and links to discover the beauty and attractions of this special area.