These mixed-use, flat and well-maintained paths are great for wheelchairs, smooth inline skating, cycling, jogging strollers or gentle walking. Some are paved (and great for everything) and a few are bark chip or compacted earth (thus best for walking or large-tire joggers and chairs), but all offer gentle, flatter terrain. Take an easy afternoon stroll or roll around the neighborhood.
Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System & Middle Fork Path
Eugene & Springfield
The wide, paved, flat paths are made for wheels or walking. Parade your kids with wheels – doll buggies, tricycles, pull-toys or big kid bikes – and stop to enjoy the park playgrounds along the way. The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System encircles the Willamette River where it flows through downtown Eugene. Multiple path segments created with pedestrian bridges over the water make it possible to enjoy shorter chunks of the 12-mile network. Try the North Bank segment adjacent to Alton Baker Park, where you can enjoy lunch on the patio at McMenamins North Bank restaurant. Or meander on the South Bank path where the children will enjoy both Skinner Butte Park with its extensive playground. In the beautiful wheelchair-accessible Owen Rose Garden, enjoy hundreds of fragrant and colorful roses. Keep watch for the assertive geese which may visit passing pedestrians, and please don't feed them.
Similar to Eugene's riverbank path system, the Middle Fork Path is an extension of the network, but this time in Springfield. Four miles of paved, flat riverside paths go from Dorris Ranch to Clearwater Park, both with plenty of parking and restroom facilities. The full walk may be too long for younger children but you can pick either end for some great park play and an abbreviated venture along the path. Older children with bicycles may really enjoy this stretch. And anybody that appreciates the tranquility of walking alongside a river will find this stretch satisfying. An added perk is Main Street's nearby restaurants and attractions — afterward, enjoy a refreshing craft beer at Plank Town Brewing Company or a cup of coffee at The Washburne Cafe.
Just under two miles of flat paths edge the 150-acre wetland reserve at Delta Ponds. The wildlife is plentiful here with dragonflies, fish, turtles, nutria, otters, beavers, herons, ducks, geese and more – in fact, this is a popular destination for serious bird watchers. It's not hard to spot something of interest around the ponds, whether it is as small as a ladybug or as big as a beaver. Delightful year-round, the ponds are particularly popular in the spring when new life is bursting forth and ducklings are cruising the water.
The path is a simple out-and-back and links up with the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System just passed Valley River Center. The trails are wheelchair and jogging stroller accessible, and you may find yourself sharing them with leashed dogs and cyclists. There is parking at the trailhead on Goodpasture Island Rd.
The Amazon Trails
The Amazon North Trail is a recently refurbished chip trail that loops on one side of Amazon Creek, while a paved path system meanders the other side between the Amazon and Hilyard community centers. Set within lush meadows and woodland, these trails are popular for running or strolling. Vicinity amenities include a skate park, children's playground, seasonal public swimming pool, a dog park and public restrooms. In the summer there is a farmers' market one day a week and free Shakespeare performances held outside on August weekends. The trails link up with the Amazon South chip trail which encircles Amazon Creek, crisscrossed with many footbridges and culminating in a small park. Because of the many loops, bridges and continuing paths, the chip trails are easily customized to fit your endurance. The portion of paved path is out and back along the creek's east bank by the community centers, and if you walk further south there is a paved bike path paralleling the east portion of the Amazon South jogging trail. Please do not ride bicycles on the chip trails — stick to the paved bike routes. If walking with a cup of coffee in hand is a perk, stop by the new Provisions South or Hideaway Cafe at the northeast end of the trail.
In Southeast Eugene near the Amazon SouthTrail, this community park showcases large playing fields, a children's playground and picnic pavilions. Edging the park are paved paths that make a nice loop. Follow the west-leading trail back through the park and over a footbridge for additional steps on the gentle uphill paved path that courses through the meadow. This is a great spot to see deer and watch for wildlife.
Fern Ridge Path
This six-mile paved path runs from West Eugene to the Danebo area and is popular with cyclists. The Fern Ridge Path skirts the Amazon Creek and wetland areas so it is excellent for birding and wildlife watching. Start near Westmoreland Park and follow the path alongside and behind West 11th businesses and residences until the path emerges across miles of flat meadow. Despite its name, this path does not connect with Fern Ridge Reservoir and actually culminates at Meadowlark Prairie Park — a wildlife area with interpretive signage and overlooks. With parking lots at either end, arrange for a return ride, or plan a longer out-and-back hike.
Row River Trail
A paved bike path that encircles Dorena Lake provides long, flat paths through cool woods and lush meadows. The Row River Trail is approximately 14 miles long and is lovely for strolling. Wayside parks provide resting spots or a place for return ride arrangements. Along the way, enjoy historic covered bridges, wildflowers and wildlife.