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Family Friendly Bike Paths

Published: June 22, 2018

From trailers to training wheels to "Watch me, Mom!", where are the best bike paths to ride with your kids?

1. Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System - Eugene

Cycling in Eugene by Michael Kevin DalyAlso known as the Willamette River Trail, this paved bike path loops the Willamette River as it flows through Eugene. The path can be easily chunked into smaller sections for shorter, easier rides. Along the route there are children's play areas, restrooms, ducks, gardens and park and wildlife.

The North Bank Path (5 miles) which passes the BMX Track, the Eugene Science Center and winds through Alton Baker Park is a favorite. Hungry child? Take a break for lunch at McMeniman's North Bank riverfront restaurant with outside patio seating. Or ride over to the Valley River Center mall to choose from their food courts.

The South Bank Path (4 miles) passes the Owen Rose Garden and the RiverPlay Discover Village Playground at Skinner Butte Park. Use one of the five bike bridges along the trail to create a small loop ride. My child loves all the playground possibilities along this ride which can make for a longer afternoon!

2. Mill Race Path - SpringfieldMill Race Path by Colin Morton

The Mill Race Path is a pleasant ride that parallels the Springfield Mill Race, a constructed waterway from the 1800s. Its 3 miles course through wetlands which make it an interesting journey for children eager to spot wildlife from nutria to frogs to ducks. There are also industrial views of factories and the older Booth-Kelly buildings. The Mill Race connects downtown Springfield to the Middle Fork Path (Clearwater Park) for a larger 7-mile stretch. There are restrooms and a picnic area at the Booth-Kelly trail head.

If you are comfortable riding in business districts with your children, end the ride with a stop in downtown Springfield along Main Street. There are great restaurants and cafes here and the large colorful murals are fun to see. The Springfield Museum is always a treat and inside the kids can pose with a replica Simpson family for a photo!

3. Middle Fork Path - Springfield

Springfield Clearwater Park Bike Path by Melanie Griffin

The Middle Fork bike path from Clearwater Park to Dorris Ranch is a wide, shaded 4-mile long lane along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. There are restrooms at each end and one near the midway point. What's great about this path is the easy access to the water. Cool your feet off in the shallows but always stay with your children and beware the rapids can be stronger than they look. Rather than swimming, it's just nice to have a rest by the water's edge and soak in all the beauty.

Dorris Ranch is also a great place to ramble with kids. Onsite is the Historic Village which includes three museum houses - a pioneer homestead, a Native American plank house and a trapper's cabin. Walking through the filbert orchard is also pretty cool.

4. Fern Ridge Path - Eugene

Fern Ridge Bike Path by Melanie Griffin

The Fern Ridge bike path is excellent for a family ride because it is mostly flat and wide open. Schools often pick this path for larger group rides for the same reasons. The 6.9 mile (11.1 km) path crosses through wetlands and native prairie and hugs the Amazon Creek. Look for spawning fish, Great Blue Herons and spring camas. In the wet season use caution as some lower levels of the path are prone to flooding.

The path is mostly buffered from cars but it does cross a few roads as it parallels the length of West 11th. Some of the crosswalks feature flashing lights for pedestrian crossing. Have your children stop to wait for you and cross together (sometimes kids are prone to speed ahead for the sheer joy of riding fast and outpacing their parents!).

Parking is available at Meadowlark Prairie trail head on Green Hill Road. There are restrooms here and picnic tables under shade.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Web Content Manager for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.

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