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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.