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We’ve lived in the Eugene/Springfield area for almost 20 years (actually, my husband grew up here) and Leaburg Fish Hatchery has been a favorite day trip location even before we had kids. In recent years, they’ve made several improvements and we were especially surprised to see a few more on our recent trip.
When you arrive at Leaburg Fish Hatchery, via a scenic drive along the Mckenzie River, you’ll cross the dam and have a few choices of where to go next. Turn left and you can park near the bathrooms, explore a small info center, and fish from the shoreline. Go straight and you’ll enter a lush park with picnic tables and fire pits. Go right and you’ll enter the magical world of the fish hatchery. Park beneath towering fir and cedar trees, and the roar of the water through the dam will be the first thing you hear. The air is fresh and bright, and it’s easy to forget the rest of the world even exists.
Right next to the parking area are the display ponds. Here, you can feed rainbow trout and, if you’re lucky, see huge sturgeon. There’s a fish feeding machine, so bring plenty of quarters. They’ve made improvements to the path around the ponds, shoring up the perimeter and replacing a couple of the bridges.
Leaburg Hatchery Ponds
After walking around the display ponds and feeding the fish, we wandered over to the hatchery’s ponds. Many of them were empty this time of year, but there were a few that had baby trout.
Leaburg Hatchery Aquatic Education Park
After exploring all of the cement ponds, toward the back of the hatchery is a small treasure that you must not miss. We’ve never seen it before, so it must be pretty new. This sign is the entrance to an accessible deck overlooking a small pond, and a short interpretive trail. The trail isn’t wheelchair- or stroller-friendly, so I took the big kids and we walked the trail while reading the signs.
Riverside Observation Deck and Gigantic Trees
For the last part of our visit to the Leaburg Hatchery, we walked along the river. Bordering the hatchery is a row of gigantic cedar trees and the Mckenzie River, a sparkling blue roiling with rapids after the dam. There’s an accessible observation deck, perfect for enjoying the river view.
If You Go
If you’re near the Eugene/Springfield area, or passing through on the Mckenzie Highway, the Leaburg Fish Hatchery is a perfect place to stretch your legs, let the kids run, and have a picnic. Sometimes the hatchery is our only destination, other times it’s just a stop along the way. We love to visit and I always enjoy seeing the changes they’ve made between our visits.
The hatchery is about 20 minutes from Springfield (30 from Eugene). Bathrooms are available. Food and drinks are nearby at Ike’s Pizza, across the highway. There are multiple picnic areas, including a couple that are covered. Plenty of parking, and visiting is free.
Oh, and remember to take quarters for the fish food!