EUGENE, Ore. - Every year, thousands of visitors are drawn to Eugene to sample its array of walking/jogging/running paths. Pedestrians and rollerbladers can criss-cross the city on a multitude of concrete and asphalt paths, while hikers can easily escape into forested wilds.
The City of Eugene offers a wonderful map of local trails and parks on its web site (http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_309660_0_0_18/Open.Space.Map.09web.pdf).
Here are some of the area's more well-known on-foot routes.
Amazon TrailLocation: South Eugene, bordered by Amazon Parkway and Hilyard Street. Parking is available at the corner of 24th and Amazon Parkway.
Length: 600 meters-1 mile loop
Footing: Soft woodchip trail, approximately 8-12 feet wide.
Description: The other well-known trail in town, located next to Roosevelt Middle School. There's a 600-meter, 1,000-meter loop and 1-mile loop, all configured in a figure eight with a grove of trees in the middle and the Amazon River on one edge. All the local track legends workout here, sharing it with a wide mix of walkers and joggers of all ages. The loop is entirely flat, and its width can accommodate groups of runners 4-5 wide. The wood chip surface is one of the softest runs you'll find in town and is well-maintained.
Hendricks ParkLocation: Northeast Eugene (1 1/2 miles east of University of Oregon campus via Birch Avenue). Parking is available at the intersection of Summit Avenue, Floral Hill Drive and Fairmount Boulevard.
Grade: Gradual to Moderate
Length: Various, up to 1.5 miles
Footing: Hilly dirt singletrack (some gravel) heading easterly to top of Capital Drive (aka 'Pink House' road running route to former Duck runners), and a short aromatic loop trail to the west through the Hendricks Park public flower garden.
Description: This beautiful city park offers something for all ages, although it's only open to those on foot. A network of singletrack, fine-gravel trails and paved paths connect through a Rhododendron garden, camping and picnic area, with several ways to access the area. Key roads to the top of this hilly section of southeast Eugene are Riverview, Fairmont, Cresta del Ruita, Capital Avenue, Heights and Summit Avenue. All of them trace up windy roads and empty out at various points of the park (but all are within a mile of each other), with Fairmount and Cresta del Ruita the only roads to the top. Look for Pre's Rock -- a memorial to the Oregon distance-running star Steve Prefontaine who died in a nearby car crash in 1975 near the corner of Birch Street and Skyline Boulevard -- when you're near the Rhododendron Gardens. Also keep an eye out for many of the city's most unique houses in this area.
Directions: Following Birch Street, a block south from the corner of 15th and Fairmont, driving up the steep hill for approximately a mile is the easiest way to find Hendricks Park, but you can also find it off of Fairmont Street which curls around the butte just to the west. There are several other roads that end at various points to the top. Historic Hayward Field, the premier track and field-only facility in the nation, is located 1 1/4 miles from Pre's Rock at the corner of 15th Avenue and Agate Street.
Rexius TrailLocation: South Eugene, bordered by East and West Amazon Parkway roads, just south of junction of 34th street. No specific parking area but parking is permitted along the street.
Length: 2-3 miles
Footing: Soft, woodchip trail, approximately 6-8 feet wide.
Description: An easy-to-find wood chip trail great for a morning jog, especially since it connects to the Amazon Trail near 30th Street. It runs along both sides of the banks of the Amazon Creek and is an easy add-on to the Amazon Trail run.
Dorris Ranch ParkLocation: West Springfield, 3 1/2 miles southeast of Hayward Field in Eugene. Take Franklin Street on edge of campus near Hayward Field east 1.5-2 miles into Springfield, turn right (south) onto 2nd Street and drive less than a mile into the parking lot (no fee required).
Length: 2-3 miles of looping trails
Footing: Soft, woodchip, dirt trail, approximately 6-8 feet wide.
Description: A great place for an easy day jog in the shade of tall trees along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River or the park's scenic arboretum. No park map is available but loops from 1/2 - 1 1/2 mile in length interconnect around the perimeter of the property.
Location: South Eugene, 5 access points on Spring Blvd (far eastern), Dillard Road, Fox Hollow Road, Willamette Street and Crestview Street (far western), connecting Southridge, Spencer Butte, East Spencer Butte and Hult Parks.
Length: 1,200 meters-1 mile
Footing: Dirt singletrack
Description: One of the outdoor treasures of the Eugene area -- nearby to town but also scenic enough that you forget about the proximity. If you choose to jog, the grade is hilly, but the lush fauna and forested setting obscures how high (and low) some of the hills really are. In the fall, the changing leaves make this one of the most visually exciting hikes around, and you can even take an off-shoot (another 1.5-2 miles long) to the top of Spencer's Butte for one of the best views from above of Eugene. The best way to get to the trail is to drive to the several access points from any of the four roads (except Spring Street which dead-ends at the trail head) that split the trail up -- each parking lot has room for 6-12 cars so there's almost always open spots. All four lie at the south edge of town near the city limits in the 60th Avenue vicinity (if there was such a road). The trail is marked at each trailhead and it's never more than 2-3 miles before you cross each of the intersecting roads, while the overall length from one edge to the other is approximately 6-7 miles.
Directions: Take any of the above-mentioned roads (Fox Hollow, Dillard, Willamette, Crewstview) south from the southern edge of town and all are with 1-2 miles of the city limits with signs indicating the parking areas and trailheads.
Pre's Trail (Click here to see a photo gallery)Location: Within the city limits in northern Eugene alongside Alton-Baker Park and the Willamette River. Parking is accessible in the park near the Ferry Street Bridge, near the corner of Country Club Road and Centennial Blvd (near Autzen Stadium). The trail is also accessible by both footbridges: Autzen Footbridge -- a half block north of the corner of Franklin and Agate Streets -- and Knickerbocker Footbridge -- near Franklin and Riverview Streets
Length: 4-6 miles
Footing: Combination of dirt singletrack, woodchips and asphalt
Description: One of the most famous jogging trails in Eugene, running along the Willamette River and featuring wood-chip paths that intersect grasslands, ponds, woods and other lush green areas in the neighborhoods of campus, Autzen Stadium, and even parts of Springfield. Bikers and roller-bladers also can share the area on several miles of flat intersecting concrete/asphalt paths.
Skinner's ButteLocation: Eugene, near the Ferry Street Bridge
Length: 1200 meters-1 mile
Footing: Dirt singletrack, woodchips at base of butte.
Description: A moderate, short picturesque hike in northern Eugene. Located within view of the nearby Ferry Street Bridge on the northern edge of town, there's a 1-1 1/2 mile road on the south edge of the butte, situated next to the downtown, that also arrives at the summit. On the northern edge of the butte, however, a mile-long switchback dirt/wood chip trail leads to the top on the side facing the river. Nearby along the river's edge, joggers/bikers/roller-bladers can also trace the concrete footpaths for several miles away from town. The opposite direction, these same concrete paths trace the Willamette River into Alton-Baker Park near the Pre Trails. Parking is located along Skinner Butte loop which turns into High Street towards downtown.
Directions: Head north of downtown on High Street, and the road curls around the butte to the west in a half-mile and becomes Chesire Ave. Parking is available along Chesire at the base of the butte, or sunset gazers can drive the half-mile uphill road to the top to look south over downtown and the Willamette Valley.
Valley River LoopLocation: Eugene, along the Willamette River, with various entry points along both sides of the river from the Ferry Street Bridge heading east
Length: Up to 9 miles
Footing: Mostly concrete, with grass and occasional dirt footpaths nearby.
Description: The community's busiest foot highway is popular year-round among runners, walkers, roller bladers and bicyclists. The concrete path meanders along the Willamette River and its east edge starts at Alton Baker Park and Pre's Trails and heads west on both sides of the river. Loops are available since there are 2 bridges on the eastern 2 miles of the path, and certain sections have distances marked off for the stopwatch-conscious. The Valley River Center mall is accessible on the north edge of the river next to one of the bridges, while downtown is less than a mile south of the south edge of the trails adjacent to the Ferry Street Bridge.
Westmoreland ParkLocation: Jefferson High School, near 21st Avenue and Polk Street in west Eugene
Grade: Flat loop
Length: Approximately 1-1.5 miles of trails/grass
Footing: Wood-chip trail
Description: This area path hosts many high schools cross country races in the fall and is often less-busy than some of the other more well-known trails.
Directions: Drive west on 18th street to Polk Street, then turn south for three blocks to 21st Avenue and park anywhere nearby on the street.
For more challenging adventures, see a local outfitter store for maps and information on popular hikes in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, such as:
- Mount Pisgah (5 miles southeast of Eugene) - 6-10 miles of hilly trails.
- Goodman Creek / Eagle's Rest / Eula Ridge / Hardesty Mountain (20-25 miles south of Eugene) - Steep mountain trails up to 14 miles out & back.
- Fall Creek (35 miles southeast of Eugene (past Lowell, Oregon) - 12 miles of trail one-way
- Brice Creek / Trestle Creek Falls, 35 miles southeast of Eugene (and due east of Cottage Grove) - 6-7 miles of trail one-way
- McKenzie Trail (about 50 miles east of Eugene) - 26 miles of trail one way