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Mill Race Path in Springfield, Oregon

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Hiking near Springfield is our family’s passion, and so when the city of Springfield passed a bond measure to build new paths and trailheads, we were elated.  When one of the first new trails opened, we were there!  The Mill Race Path is a 3-mile paved trail for hiking and biking.  And because it’s stroller-friendly, the Mill Race Path is the perfect destination for winter hikes with kids.

Our family went hiking along the new Mill Race Path

The trailhead is on the edge of Springfield, just down the street from Willamalane’s Bob Keefer Sport Center on 32nd Street.  Two bathrooms are available, as well as a water fountain and plenty of parking spots.  From the parking lot, you have two choices…left or right.  Left leads south, and connects to the longer Middle Fork Path.  Right leads to the Booth-Kelly Trailhead 2.5 miles away.

South on Mill Race Path

If you turn left from the parking lot, you’ll be heading south toward the Middle Fork Path and the Willamette River.  This is one of our favorite walks, and is maybe 1.5 mile round trip if you just go to the trail junction and back.

Mill Race Path - Springfield Oregon hiking

My kids love bridges, and on this part of the Mill Race Path, there are lots of bridges!

The Mill Race Path is named for, well, the mill race.  Springfield’s mill race was hand dug in 1852 to provide water to local lumber mills.  Today, it’s been restored by Willamalane and the City of Springfield, along with Springfield Utility Board, into a haven for wildlife.

Mill Race Path - Springfield hiking

The millrace is beautiful any time of year. This was in February, and the colors, while more subtle, were varied and lovely.

Children hiking on Mill Race Path in Springfield

Along the path, you’ll see trees, meadows, distant hills, ponds, and of course, the mill race.  It’s a very picturesque walk, and we thoroughly enjoy it in ever season.  This happened to be an unusually warm February day, so the trees don’t have leaves yet.  Also, we often carry empty baby carriers so when the cutie in red runs out of steam, we can carry him.  He loves hiking, but has low endurance.  The Deuter carrier has saved our family hiking adventures!

Hiking near Springfield at Mill Race Path

A pond along the path. Even in February, it was surrounded by birds. There’s a bench that I’ll bet is perfect for bird watching.

Hiking near Springfield - Mill Race Path

About 3/4 of a mile from the parking lot, the Mill Race Path connects to the Middle Fork Path.

Hiking with kids near Springfield, Oregon

Sit a spell, and enjoy the scenery. On just about any day, the path is busy with people enjoying this path.  At this point, our son went up in the carrier.  We still had 3/4 mile hike back to the van, but he was done.  He weighs 40 pounds, but my husband carries him comfortably in our Deuter pack.

West on Mill Race Path

Back to the parking lot, if you take a right turn, you’ll head west toward Booth-Kelley Trailhead.  The very first thing you’ll see is a bridge and a magnificent rustic wooden fence.  Stop here a while, and I guarantee you’ll see ducks at the very least.

Mill Race Path perfect for winter hike near Eugene

In this direction, the path follows right along the mill race.  Across the water, there are farm fields, pastures, and hazelnut orchards.  We stopped for a bit and watched people working with horses in the distance.

Winter hike near Eugene for kids - Mill Race Path Springfield

Walk the Mill Race Path in the winter

Beautiful Mill Race Path, lovely any time of the year!

This new trail is a treasure, and right in town!  It’ll be fun to watch spring and summer come to life along the mill race, and to see what kinds of wildlife thrive nearby.  We’re so blessed to have wonderful winter hiking in Springfield.

Map of Mill Race Path

If you go south from the Jasper Road trailhead, the Mill Race Path connects to the Middle Fork Path, which stretches from Dorris Ranch to Clearwater Park.  This Willamalane map shows the route of the Mill Race Path and the Middle Fork Path.

History of Springfield’s Mill Race

The mill race, or channel of swift moving water that turns a mill wheel, was dug by hand in 1852 next to the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.  Elias Briggs, the founder of Springfield, dug the canal with his son, Isaac, using an ox plow and shovels.  The mill race provided water to the new grist mills and lumber mills built later in 1854.

History of Mill Race in Springfield

Tailgate of the mill pond, emptying into the mill race. Springfield Flouring Mill in the background. 1912, by J.A. Armstrong, Cottage Grove . Photo used with permission of Lane County Historical Museum.

Springfield history

Springfield Flouring Mill, circa 1914, photographer unknown. Photo used with permission of Lane County Historical Museum.

The mill race was a cornerstone of Springfield for 50 years, with fishing and picnicking along its banks.  But as the mills no longer needed it, and it fell out of use, it seemed almost forgotten for decades.  In 1993, Springfield proposed to restore the mill race.  Work began in 2009 with the creation of new inlet at Clearwater Park.  The restoration of the mill race, along with the accompanying Middle Fork Path and Mill Race Path, was completed in 2017.

Let’s Go!

Jasper Road Trailhead, 3202 Jasper Road, Springfield, OR
No day use fee.

Stroller-friendly, wheelchair-accessible.  Bike, hike, or bring your dog.  And definitely bring the kids!

 

Just for Fun

Our daughter, Camille, is a talented up-and-coming photographer.  And she’ll do anything to get the photo.  Here’s a before and after for your enjoyment.

When I snapped this pic, I had no idea what she was looking at. It wasn’t till later, when I downloaded her camera, that I realized I’d caught a magical moment of a photographer immersed in her art, and in a world only she can see.

With her camera, she brings her world alive for the rest of us. Photo credit: Camille

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OregonOutdoorMama

I’m a middle-aged mom of 3-6 and sometimes more, depending on day. I’m out of shape and usually exhausted. Our favorite summertime activity (and often on dry winter days) is getting outdoors and finding adventure.

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