Walking along the Willamette River

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Walk like a Duck (University of Oregon mascot) in Eugene

On our road trip, we decided to explore new places in old stops. We have enjoyed walking around the main campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene. Among its attributes: architecturally interesting buildings, it’s flat, has pleasing lawns, trees and gardens and it is near downtown.

University of Oregon

Somehow, we hadn’t explored the many trails along the Willamette River. Near our hotel was a path along the calm waters of the Millrace. I’m not sure where the mill is. Perhaps, it’s now only an historical reference.

Millrace Eugene Oregon

Following Riverfront Parkway (closed to vehicle traffic, yeah!) is a path leading to the Autzen Bridge. This leads to the football stadium but also leads to some woodsy trails and parklands on the north side of the Willamette River. This includes the Alton Baker Park – which has an area for dogs to run free. Alton Baker founded the local newspaper.

Eugene woods

The river and bridge seem to be part of an organic group art project. In the river near the footbridge are natural rock formations. Students have added rocks to create sculptures. In one case, flat rocks balance on a branch over the rushing water.

Willamette Art Project

On the bridge, hopscotch-sized squares painted on the cement provide framework for other art projects. The evening I crossed, someone was copying from an image on his phone, to fill a square in chalk with a blue dragon.

Autzen Footbridge Eugene Or

Across the river are trails under the name of Ruth Bascom Riverfront Paths. Ms. Bascom was the first female mayor of Eugene from 1993-96. She helped improve downtown and the riverfront for walkers, runners and bicyclists.

Willamette River Eugene Oregon

For more information about walking in Eugene – it is a town dedicated to getting outdoors – please click Walking in Eugene  At that site is a link to the trail map on both sides of the river.

They’re called running trails – University of Oregon is famous for its runners – but walkers can use them too. Click Running trails

Willamette River at Sunset

Springfield, the other city

Next day, we went off to explore Springfield. Between fighting with inadequate paper maps and a new ‘smartphone’ app, we did find downtown Springfield and a small park along the Willamette River. At another millrace or waterway running into the main river was a small interpretive park.

Millrace Park Springfield Oregon

We walked across the bridge on Main St or Hwy 126 and we could have walked back to Eugene, but stopped mid-span. We looked down on yet another park. Now how do we get to that? It was called Island Park. ‘

We were running out of time with a long drive ahead of us. My only sense of ‘justice’ is when looking for a site with all of Eugene and Springfield Parks. Each had the same picture. So I won’t share that site. But you could look it up or wait for our next trip…There are plenty of flat walks.

Words by Lynn Millar, Photos by Mike Millar copyright 2013 – pictures available upon request.

Just (Oct 2013) saw an article about completing the ped-bike trail in Springfield.

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