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When it’s a maybe-it’ll-rain kind of day, but also a we-gotta-get-the-kids-out kind of day, we like to hit up Willamalane’s new Middle Fork Path through Springfield. It’s a 4-mile paved path along the middle fork of the Willamette River. We like the paved path because it’s easy for the stroller but the scenery is amazing.
There are 3 main trailheads along the Middle Fork Path. One at Clearwater Park, one in the middle near Agnes Stewart Middle School, and one at Dorris Ranch. This day, we chose Dorris Ranch because we hadn’t walked that part of the path yet.
The Middle Fork Path has it’s own parking area at Dorris Ranch, and we parked right next to the restrooms. Directly behind the restrooms is the Living History Village with a replica of a homestead so we explored this first.
Living History Village
The village is arranged around a loop, so we traveled the rest of the loop, checking out each building.
The Path – The First Half-Mile
After fully exploring the pioneer village, we headed down the paved path toward the Willamette River. Almost immediately, we left the city behind and transcended into a world of nature, beauty, and forest. The first 0.25 mile was through a reclaimed pasture. There were signs describing the invasive vegetation removal, and we could see their efforts along the path to remove (most likely) blackberry and other invasive plants.
Soon we were under the trees, occasionally catching glimpses of the hazelnut orchards in Dorris Ranch, which borders the path.
The Path – the next Half-Mile
Shortly after the 0.5 mile marker, the river peeked through the trees. We were all eager to see the river, so despite several of our little ones getting tired, we pressed on.
One note about walking/hiking with little ones…preparation makes it fun. We have 4 children who are age 4 and under, so we took our double stroller and two packs so everyone could ride when they were ready. As kids got tired, the went into the stroller or into a pack. Our 3 and 4-year-olds are both pretty good about walking and can go about a mile. But our 2-year-old doesn’t “get” hiking and sees no reason to walk very far! And then we have a 2-month-old who thinks hikes are the best nap ever.