I’ve decided we should start our hiking adventures together right here in town. Don’t worry adventurous hiking Mamas, we will travel to new places, but for now, let’s stick with what we know and encourage new hikers or nervous hikers to get out on the trail. Without further ado, Spencer Butte.
Having grown up here, I am no stranger to this trail. I hiked it as a kid myself, and have found my way to the top many times. Hiking it as a Mama, is a new challenge, but one that can be easily accomplished.
(THIS IS NOT RIDGELINE TRAIL – WE WILL EXPLORE THAT ON ANOTHER DAY)
Hours: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Parking: Large parking lot right at the base of the trail
Distance: 2.16 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Bathrooms: Port-a-potty at base of trail
Trail: Well-groomed dirt trail, rock scramble just before the summit
Mobility: Moderate (if you are unable to take bigger steps or do squat/lunge –type movements, the last bit of the hike will be very difficult.)
Cell Service: Spotty
Potential Dangers: POISON OAK, Rattle Snakes (which my father always warned me about and I NEVER believed him, until I saw one myself a few years ago)
Shoes: Nike Terra Kiger (trail runners)
Kid Shoes: Keen Hikers
Backpack: REI kids pack
In the pack: water, snacks, layers of clothes
I’ve done this hike twice in the last few weeks. The first time, I went by myself with my two littles. This was the first time I attempted to have my smallest walk on her own. She was determined to do it all by herself. (I wrapped the Ergo around my waist just in case). The second time, I went with just my smallest and a friend who carried her 2-week old baby in a front pack.
At 3 ½, my bug did a great job! She picked a steady pace and held to it the whole time. No Ergo needed! The only struggle we had, and which I expected to have, was the scramble at the top. She isn’t quite big enough or sturdy enough to do it on her own, so with that, I was doing a lot of lifting her up to the next rocky area and then scrambling up on my own and on and on. The tricky part was keeping an eye on the boy who wanted to be able to just power through, scramble up, and not have to wait for us.
SOMETHING OF NOTE: At this last part of the hike, height is on your side. Even though I’m an average 5’6”, I have the world’s shortest legs. In order to step up at the end, I would need to lean forward, etc. shifting my center of balance which can be particularly tricky with a baby in the front pack or a toddler in the hiking pack. However, when I went with my almost 6’ friend with the world’s longest legs, she just stepped as though it were nothing, keeping her balance perfectly while her 2-week old slept peacefully in her front pack.
Getting down was also a bit of an interesting endeavor as my 3 & a 1/2 year old doesn’t quite get the concept of gravity or that if she simply steps off the edge she won’t necessarily land on her feet. There were a few times that I was concerned for her shoulder dislocating while she was holding my hand as she slid/jumped/propelled herself off a rock.
This hike is the perfect place to start if you are unsure about hiking alone with your kids. It’s not too steep, not too long, and just high enough that your kids will feel as though they have conquered Everest. My kids LOVE this hike. Gorgeous fir trees keep you shaded for almost the entire trail. The switchbacks make you feel like you are moving quickly. The views at the summit are breath-taking. I have never been there when there weren’t plenty of other (friendly) people around to make me feel very safe by myself.
ADVANCED HIKE DISCLAIMER: This is a popular hike to do at sunset. Where it is totally worth it and the views are uh-mazing, your hike down will be DARK. You will definitely want headlamps/flashlights. This is NOT something you want to do if your kids (or you) are afraid of the dark.
There is construction going on at the top of Spencer Butte this spring & summer. It looks like it will be awesome & more accessible when it's done so that's really great. Periodically they will be closing the top for the more intensive construction. Check this link for up-to-date information about closures:
Hike Mom Hike!
Jenna is mama to two awesome kids, a boy & a girl. They explore Lane County's hills & mountains on a regular basis. See all of Jenna's Hike Mom Hike posts here.
So despite the rain this week that's been reminding us that we do live in Oregon, I feel like the weather these past few weeks has been just unreal. Seventy degrees in March? I'll take it! However, now that it's April, you know it's going to rain for weeks and weeks. Oh well. Here's a new park to check out at the first sign of halfway decent weather.
First of all: Did you know that if you go to the Eugene Parks and Rec website, there is a place where you can request an actual paper map of all of the parks and green spaces in town? And they will send it to you for free in the actual mail? Isn't that so old fashioned and quaint? Paper! And mail! It's like we're living in the little house on the prairie! :) I keep my map in my car, and it's so very handy for when we are running errands and have a bit of extra time, but aren't super familiar with the area. We use the map and BOOM. Park located. Here's the link to get your copy:
We stumbled upon Bond Lane Park recently with the help of our super power (map).
Here's what we liked:
- Beautiful little park set way back far from the road
-It's tucked back inside a little neighborhood and feels very quiet
- Lots of shade
-Several picnic tables
- There's a merry go round, for those of you with kiddos who won't barf the minute it starts turning.
- Four swings: two "little kid" swings and two "big kid" swings.
- A PURPLE DINOSAUR. Awesome.
- No sand ;)
- A very fun little play structure, which was perfect for the preschool crowd. Older kiddos would probably find it a bit boring.
- This super cool spider web thing!
Here's what we didn't like so much:
- No trash can near the play area (picky, I know, but not very handy)
- There is a paved path, but it doesn't circle the play area. It just goes to the street. So this isn't an ideal place to bring your wheeled toys to ride.
One last note: It occurred to me that this park would be a super fun spot to have a birthday party. There's a picnic table right near the play area, as well as several others in the grass a bit farther out. It would be lovely!
Oh and another thing! Don't put "Bond Lane Park" into your GPS/maps feature on your phone. Unless maybe you happen to have a way smarter phone than mine or my friend. Both of our phones led us to a residential house several blocks down the street from the actual park. Seriously, it took us down Bradley Drive, which is not helpful at all. Even the way it looks on my phone map is really misleading. Just keep driving down Bond Lane, and you'll see the park. Which leads me back to my first point...get the free paper map! Happy Adventuring!
You guys. Let's talk about Dorris Ranch. Ahhh, dear old Dorris. If I could marry a physical place, I would marry Dorris Ranch. It is very nearly the perfect place. Anywho, here's how my family likes to enjoy dear old Dorris (henceforth known as DOD). I hope you and your family head out there soon and check it out, because it's the best. For reals.
DOD is in Springfield, right down Pioneer Parkway, off the Springfield City Center exit. Now before you quit reading because you live way out in the South hills of Eugene or whatever and decide that DOD is way too far away to visit, let me just tell you that you're wrong. So very wrong. It is well worth every single minute spent in the car.
When you get there, the driveway splits three ways. Okay hold on. I am going to WAY overexplain this for all of the people out there who are like me and who really really really like details. If you're more of an "explore it on your own" type, feel free to skip this next 35 paragraphs. Hopefully, however, there is someone out there who is like me and will find the nitty gritty specifics helpful. Let's forge on!
See this map? See the gate at the top? That's where you start at DOD. See how the road splits three ways? Oh the options! How does one decide? Okay, here we go.
The paved road to the left (your left when you've arrived at the park, your right when you're looking at this map) leads to a brand new (last year I think) path that is paved. On the map, it's the yellow "paved multi-use path". There are bathrooms and a water fountain and a few benches in the parking lot area. Head down the "paved multi-use path" and you'll hit the Living History Village right away.
The buildings aren't open, but they're fun to check out. Last fall, DOD held a really fun event where they had the buildings open to explore as well as people in period dress there to show artifacts and answer questions. Super fun! Keep going and you'll hit a beautiful forest - this is my son's favorite part of DOD. He loves how tall the trees are, and how dark and quiet it is. We love to talk about which animals are hiding or napping in the trees, and how they're camouflaged. Keep on trucking and you'll reach the river. It's too far away (and blocked off by a fence) at this point to get down to the water, but the view is lovely.
I haven't ever gone farther than about where the river curves and the map cuts off, so I can't attest to what's just around the river bend (anyone catch that reference?) so let me know if you know! FYI, my four year old can ride his bike all the way down to the river and back with no problem. I have zero idea how far that is - there are distance markers but I never pay attention. I also can't figure it out using the map, because my babies used up all my brain cells when I was pregnant. So...there you go.
One note about the "paved multi-use path": Some of the path has a yellow line painted in the middle, like a real road. I really wish the line were on the entire path, and I'm not sure why it's not (anyone?) It is a great place to teach your littles about basic traffic concepts like lanes, passing, and road courtesy. My kiddo loves to yell "passing on your left!"
The gravel road to the right (okay so that's your right when you're at the park, your left when you're looking at this map) leads to a gravel path that winds through filbert orchards. On the map, it's the light grey "road". Just a little distance distance from the parking lot is a very cool barn (it's available to rent and has the most beautiful twinkly lights hanging inside!) as well as a neat old nut harvesting machine, picnic tables, and a port-a-potty. Keep walking and you'll hit the orchards. The orchards are a fantastic place to let littles play - they are just so visibly cool! The rows upon rows of matching trees - so fun. On the map, there's a place labeled "Pump House and Packing Shed". These are some random buildings (you can't go in them) as well as another port-a-potty. There is also another picnic table and an awesome old tractor to let the littles explore. If you've got pretty short legs with you, I might recommend turning around now and heading back to the car. It's not a long walk TO the "tractor spot" (that's what we call it, super creative, I know. You're welcome.) but you do need to walk all the way BACK. :) If you've got longer legs, you're about halfway to the river, and it is truly a beautiful walk. Keep going and you can toss rocks and sticks in the water after you scramble down the bank. Gorgeous. For reference, this weekend my four year old walked the entire way to the river and back without a problem after he rode his bike all the way to the river on the paved path. You can do it!
There are also lots of small gravel trails, marked as the white "trails" on the map. We've never really checked those out, but we should!
So last weekend here's what we did: We started on the "paved multi-use path", rode bikes/walked to the river and back, and then headed back to the car, which we had parked in the gravel lot. We threw the bike in the car, grabbed our picnic basket, and walked down to the picnic tables near the barn. After we ate, my husband threw the basket back in the car and we headed down the gravel "road". We stopped at every tractor and allowed for lots of time to check out bugs/logs/leaves/puddles. We walked all the way to the river, threw rocks in, and walked back to the car. From arrival to departure, we spent 3 and 1/2 hours at DOD. Wonderful family time for exploration, conversation, enjoying the outdoors, and getting dirty!
Parking: plenty of free parking
Restrooms: There are flush toilets near the paved parking lot, and several port-a-potties in various spots up and down the gravel path.
Resting/Nursing Spots: a few benches and picnic tables scattered around
Time Frame: At least an hour - you could easily occupy your littles for half a day at DOD!
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