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By this point in the quarantine, we all want to know: where can we go hiking?! Here are 7 quarantine hikes near Eugene that are open for local hikers.
Throughout the past weeks, the news has rolled in, one headline after another. Stores are closed, but you can still go hiking. Go hiking, but keep your distance. All state parks are closed to hiking. Forest Service closes all trailheads in Oregon. The BLM has closed all trailheads. Stay home.
For many of us, being outside is essential to our mental health and happiness. For families with children, being outside helps small bodies to be calm, to eat more regular meals, and to sleep better.
Our family has spent much of the past several weeks seeking out trails that are still open, and we’re ready to share some quarantine hikes near Eugene that you are still welcome to take. Keep your distance, but enjoy the fresh air!
1. Mount Pisgah Arboretum
Mt Pisgah is a Lane county park, and thus has remained open to the public. They do ask that visitors are mindful of distance, and that you make an alternate plan if the trail you’ve chosen is busy. Since there are 7 miles of trails across over 200 acres, there’s plenty of space for everyone.
Directions: From I-5, take Exit 189. Turn right onto OR-225, left on Franklin Blvd, left on Seavey Loop Road to Frank Parrish Road. Click “Directions” to see a map, you might need one the first time if you’re not familiar with the area.
2. Howard Buford Recreation Area – North Boundary Trail
Mt Pisgah Arboretum is part of the larger Howard Buford Recreation Area. Aside from the arboretum, Howard Buford park has 17 additional miles of trails on 2363 acres, winding over and around the Mt Pisgah Butte. Trails are accessible from the east and west sides of the butte. We visited the North Boundary Trail on the east side (Pleasant Hill side) recently. We encountered a few families, but it was easy to keep our distance. The views and the meadows of wildflowers are well worth the visit in the spring and early summer.
A $4 parking permit for Howard Buford is required. This trailhead doesn’t have a pay station, but you can print your own permit from home using the website or use the handy app. Download the Passport Parking App to pay from your smartphone.
Directions: From I-5, take Exit 188B to Hwy 58 toward Pleasant Hill. Left on Ridgeway Road. Trailhead is about 2 miles north on the left. It is marked with signage.
3. Armitage Park
Armitage Park is a Lane County Park just north of Eugene on Coburg Road. It has 57 acres along the Mckenzie River and features several short, flat hiking trails and walking paths. Walk under the I-5 bridge and up a short staircase to access the old railroad bridge, now open for pedestrians. Enjoy walking along the river on a paved path. The Crilly Nature Trail is a fun 0.5-mile loop trail under the tall Douglas Fir trees. Bring a frisbee or a kite and don’t forget a picnic!
A parking permit may be required, depending on season. A pay station is available on site.
Directions: In Eugene, drive North on Coburg Road. Armitage Park is on the left and is well marked.
4. Thurston Hills Natural Area
As part of Willamalane Parks & Recreation district in Springfield, the trails at Thurston Hills Natural Area are open. Over 6 miles of trails cross 665 acres of forest and meadow along the ridge line bordering west Springfield. Jump on the trail from two locations: the main trailhead at 75th and Main Street features bathrooms, ample parking, and a bike wash station. This trailhead leads uphill through lush forestland, with occasional views over Springfield. The opposite end is just up the road from Quartz Park on 60th Street. The 60th Street access isn’t developed yet, but offers a completely different hiking experience than the trailhead off 75th Street with open meadows, oak savannas, and wide views over the Jasper area.
There is no parking fee in any of Willamalane’s parks or trailheads. The only developed trailhead for the Thurston Hills trail is at 75th and Main Street, and it includes bathrooms, a water fountain, picnic tables, and more.
Directions to main trailhead: In Springfield, take Main Street to a right near 75th into the trailhead. A large sign marks the entrance.
Directions to Quartz Park trailhead: In Springfield, take Hwy 126 to Bob Straub Parkway. Make a left turn onto Mt Vernon, then a right on S 59th. Follow this all the way to it’s end at Quartz Park. Park in the park’s parking lot, but walk up Quartz Street to the dead end. There’s a trail up to an old road, take a right on the road and walk 0.25 mile to the trailhead, which is a large yellow gate on the left. Signage is present.
5. Clearwater Park
It’s no secret that Clearwater Park is one of our favorite local parks. We go often, and so we were relieved when Willamalane chose to keep this park and its trails open. At Clearwater, you can “choose your own adventure” with myriad trails to choose. Whether you just want a quick walk to stretch your legs, or a longer hike to log some miles, you can find it at Clearwater Park. This park is also popular with the local painted rock group, so look closely, you just might find a treasure!
One of our favorite trails is what we call the Pond Trail. It’s a short loop, maybe 0.25 mile, with a bench facing the pond at the midway point. To turn this into a longer walk, cross the road and continue on the other side. There are lots of options, so its easy to customize your experience to your kids’ needs.
No fee for parking. Bathrooms are available at trailheads.
Directions: In Springfield, take 42nd Street to a left on Jasper Road, then a right on Clearwater Lane. The park is at the end of Clearwater Lane.
6. Deerhorn Landing
Thankfully, Lane County is full of county parks, and while Deerhorn is a small hop up the Mckenzie Highway, it’s worth the effort to visit. It’s a small park, but has a basketball court, a couple of swings, and a short hiking trail. Bring a frisbee and play on the huge lawn. My kids played basketball for a while before we explored the trail. The hiking trail is flat and perfect for toddlers, but interesting enough to entertain your older kids, too. Discover wildflowers, peekaboo trees, and more sticks than you can, well, shake a stick at. We have toddlers, so sticks are a really big deal! Before we left, we wandered down the boat ramp. More sticks! The kids threw sticks into the river for a solid 20 minutes, always a fun activity! We were enchanted by this tiny park and plan to return often.
Directions: Highway 126 up the McKenzie River, right on Holden Lane, left on Bridge Street. The park is just after the bridge on the left.
7. Golden Gardens Park
Golden Gardens is a relatively new park in Eugene, built in 2009. It features a mile long path around three ponds, with paths intersecting between the ponds. We’ve been here twice since the quarantine started, and both times we’ve seen lots of ducks and geese. I hear that turtles are a common sight as well. The path is well maintained and easy to walk. Our toddlers enjoy collecting sticks and counting the ducks. Benches are placed sporadically around every pond, inviting visitors to sit for a spell. Take your camera and go at sunset…it’s absolutely lovely.
There is no fee for parking. Use a bathroom before you go, there are none available at the park.
Directions: In Eugene, take Beltline west to Barger Drive. Turn right on Barger, then right on to Golden Gardens Street. The park is at the end of the street.
Quarantine Hikes Near Eugene
There are more trails available, especially in the South Hills of Eugene, but these are some of our favorites that we’ve taken recently. I omitted trails that are likely to be overly busy, like the beautiful but popular Wild Iris Ridge trail in Eugene. That one is still open, but the parking lot was overflowing on our recent visit. We found something else to do!
Feel free to share your favorite local hikes that are still open!